The best returning G5 running backs list is a skilled group of Power-5 caliber talent. For G5 teams, a game-changing talent is one of the dominoes needed to knock off a bigger team. This list features a few of those game-changing talents, and they’ll be looking to help engineer some big upsets this fall. We have covered the Best Returning G5 Quarterbacks so let us take a look at the players they will be handing the ball to.
Best Returning G5 Running Backs
Camerun Peoples, Appalachian State
App State starts its 2022 schedule with UNC and Texas A&M. Does anyone smell an upset? If that happens, Camerun Peoples will be at the center of the offensive attack. The fifth-year back has posted consecutive strong seasons as the feature back for the Mountaineers. In 2020, Peoples popped off for 1124 yards and 12 touchdowns. Last season, Peoples notched 926 yards and 14 scores.
Peoples enters the 2022 season as a veteran back who should threaten the 1000-yard threshold. He’ll be the main feature in the offense of a team that should flirt with the top 25 throughout the season and challenge for the Sun Belt title. As such, he checks in at No. 3 in the list of the top returning G5 running backs.
Lew Nichols, Central Michigan
Everyone loves MACtion and Central Michigan will take center stage in a couple of high-profile non-conference matchups. They travel to take on Oklahoma State and Penn State in the first four weeks. Can Lew Nichols, their elite running back, buoy the Chippewas to an upset? Nichols ranks second in the best returning Group of 5 running backs list.
Nichols had a great argument to be in the top slot on this list, and it was a really close call. He had the most rushing yards of anyone on this list, with 1848 last year. He added versatility in the passing game, notching 40 receptions. At 5.7 yards per touch, Nichols was one of the MAC’s most electric players. He found paydirt 18 times. By pure volume, his workload was impressive. He handled 30+ touches in 6+ games, including games with 43 and 44 carries. He exceeded 130 rushing yards in ten contests, punctuated by eight straight to end the year. Additionally, Nichols notched 200+ all-purpose yards in five games.
Nichols returns as the focal point and a game-changing talent for the Chippewas. They fully expect to be competing for a MAC title and a strong season could see them push for 9+ wins. If they can hit their ceiling, it’ll be on the legs of Lew Nichols.
Rasheen Ali, Marshall
Looking for a major upset on the Marshall schedule? Circle September 10th on their calendar. The Thundering Herd travel to South Bend for a clash with Notre Dame in the Irish’s home opener. Notre Dame will be coming off the emotions of a season-opening battle with Ohio State. And Marshall has got one of the game’s premier backfield talents in Rasheen Ali. The Marshall sophomore tops the list of the best returning Group of 5 running backs.
Ali is incredibly explosive, notching 1401 yards at 5.6 yards per pop. He danced his way into the end zone 25 times in his redshirt freshman season, adding 45 receptions at 7.4 yards per catch. He scored 23 times on the ground, once through the air, and once via kick return. Overall, Ali notched nearly seven yards per touch. The raw totals are a little less than Nichols, primarily due to receiving about seven fewer touches per game. But as the best returning player in receptions, touchdowns, and edging out Nichols in yards per touch, Ali gets the nod. He ranks atop the best returning Group of 5 running backs list entering 2022.