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Sports in Kansas: 25 Running Backs to Watch for 2019

Tank Young is looking to help STA repeat in 5A. (photo: Susan Goodwyn)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Aug 14, 2019

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Several running backs return after having big seasons in 2018. Check out who to watch in 2019. This lists main purpose is to represent the entire state from nearly every class. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we will do this position by position. Chet Kuplen, CEO/Founder of Sports in Kansas, evaluates players every year based on performance from prior year, our all-state lists from last year and events (camps/combines) he sees players across the state with input from several coaches and media members. This is not a recruiting list or prospect list and players are not ranked or in any special order.This list is powered by Rack Performance, Nex-Tech Wireless, American Implement and Kansas Turf. Be on the lookout for our postseason honors after the 2019 season on who will be the Top 100 seniors in Kansas and who will make the Sports in Kansas All Non-Senior Team. While its impossible for us to check out every player in the state, we have a pretty good track record at going into detail like no other outlet in the state. If you ever have a player that you think we should take a look at be sure to DM @sportsinkansas or sportsinkansas@gmail.com as tips coming in can always help out on who we should check out! If you are interested in a player evaluation contact Chet Kuplen by TEXT at 620-719-0283 or email sportsinkansas@gmail.com. Several player evaluations landed major offers over the last eight football seasons. 

 

25 Running Backs To Watch for 2019

(LIST IS NOT RANKED)

The Unknown?

Many solid backs are back but there are question marks on RB for a lot of teams because of the unknown and many players have not yet had the opportunity. Will Blue Valley North have a feature back to look at this year? They may be a pass first team but they’ve had some studs in the backfield in recent memory and lose hybrid Amari Pesek-Hickson but have some talented athletes all over the place that could step up and fill the role. Jax Dineen had a lot of production for Free State, who will step up in that role. Are there more Sunflower League players that will have seasons like Daymonn Sanchez did last year? Arland Bruce IV is back at quarterback.  Who will be fill the shoes of Iowa State signee Breece Hall who has been one of the best backs in Kansas over the last few seasons at Wichita Northwest. Can Blue Valley get a running back to put up big-time numbers this season? Will Manhattan have someone step up to replace the production of Kevontae McDonald? Can Bishop Carroll return to what they have been and find a big-time back? Will there be a small school player like Travis Theis of Pratt that will dominate, that player likely will be Wyatt Pedigo again? The MCL always has very solid play at the running back position, who will step up for Phillipsburg or Smith Center, Plainville has key pieces back? Will there be a hybrid type of player out there to take over like we saw with Christian Jegen back in 2015 of Mill Valley?

Tank Young, Aquinas, 5-7 170 Jr.

Young had one of the best seasons in Kansas that generated Division I offers last season as a sophomore for the 5A state champion Saints. He had 2,075 rushing yards to go along with 27 touchdowns as STA finished undefeated. The question is, who will be the other Aquinas back to put up a lot of yards because we know its never a one-man show on a Randy Dreiling coached team. They have athletes all over its just a matter of time before someone else besides Young emerges. If you remember, Cameron Jackson was the teams leading rusher before taking a smaller role to Young last season.  Expect Young to still have a ton or production, but you have to think there will be multiple skill players producing for STA in 2019.

Brison Cobbins, Bishop Miege, 5-7 165 Sr.

Cobbins is ready for a breakout year but there has been so much star power at Miege to spread around the football. There is a lot of star power still there with Daniel Jackson back from injury and Phillipe Wesley returning. Miege aims for their sixth straight state title. Tyquez Agnew-Whitten is an athlete that can play nearly every skill spot on the field & could also provide some reps at running back if needed but figures to be one of the best defenders in the state. DeAunte Parker could also see some reps. The Stags are loaded with talent all over the place.

Tre Washington, Derby, 5-10 195 Sr.

Washington rushed for over 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns last year as the Panthers won the 6A state title. Back to pave the way for Washington is Nebraska commit Alex Conn upfront. Expect another big year for Washington and Derby. The Panthers have likely been the best program in Kansas since 2013.

Ky Thomas, Topeka, 5-11 195 Sr.

Thomas, a Minnesota commit, is a rare four-year starter at the 6A level. He has been one of the best backs in Kansas since he arrived in high school. He rushed for 21 touchdowns and over 1,600 yards in 2018. With the departure of Jacquez Barksdale to graduation you can expect the state of Thomas to be even better in 2019. Topeka High also returns KU commit Da’Vonshai Harden forming likely the top backfield in the state.

Caden Cox, Maize, 5-9 195 Sr.

Cox is a talented back that can also be used as a receiver if needed. He was a non-senior pick at SIK last season in helping Maize reach a semifinal in 5A. He was also a leg on the state champion 4x100 relay team this past spring. Cox rushed for over 1,500 y ards last season despite entering the year with a broken foot and having a 2,000-yard passing quarterback in Division I basketball signee Caleb Grill.

Mason Edwards, Maize South, Sr., Cole Diffebaugh, Mulvane, Sr., Mac Brand, Andale, Sr., Carter Morrow, Goddard, Sr. Jakob Feil, McPherson, Sr. 

In addition to Cox and Washington above and the City League, the Wichita are is loaded with some backs this year and here are some we expect to shine out of the four AVTCL leagues. Edwards is a beast in the weight room and earned all-state honorable mention honors one season ago. Maize South returns a lot of talent for 2019 and Edwards will form a solid backfield with Collin Shields. Edwards rushed for 1,300 plus yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior last fall. Diffebaugh has sub 11 second speed in the 100 and earned first team all league honors last season. Brand more known as an all-state defender could also emerge as a big-time back this season. Morrow has the size and strength to be a major force with the football once again in 2019. He is a hybrid type that can double as a running back or reciever depending on how Goddard will use him which should be at multiple spots. He is one of the most under the radar talents in Kansas. He cleans 315 and and has a 36.5" vertical. Feil is a utility back at 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds that can be a great player in multiple spots including all of the special teams, earning first team all-conference as a special teamer last year. He has some of the quickest feet in Kansas and with a lot of the production gone from 2018, you can expect him to have a big year on the Mac offense. He is pound for pound one of the strongest players in the state as he captured a state powerlifting title last school year. He is a lock down corner that loves to hit as well. Don’t let his size fool you, he may be one of the smallest players on the field at all times but he will also be one of the best. Feil highlights kind of remind us of the Cody Paul video that went viral in the mid 2000s.

Wyatt Pedigo, Hoisington, 6-1 220 Sr.

Pedigo rushed for over 2,000 yards as a junior last fall in earning Sports in Kansas 2A Player of the Year honors. He also earned the Non-Senior Defensive Player of the Year from SIK. Pedigo is one of the states best two-way players regardless of classification. He is also a two-time state wrestling champion. He has committed to play football at Division I FCS program North Dakota.

Adam Albertini, St. Paul, Sr, Syris Dunlap, Liberal, Sr., Arland Bruce IV, Olathe North Sr., Teven McKelvey, Gardner Edgerton, Sr.

All of the above guys are ATH type of players that also line up at the quarterback position but they are really running back style players, if you want to see their capsules about them – check out the QBs list on the main page of our site.

Conor Haviland, Humboldt, 6-1 180 Sr.

Haviland rushed for 1,687 yards last season and 32 touchdowns as a junior. He was also one of the better return men in the state. The Cubs made a first ever semifinal in 2018 under head coach Logan Wyrick. Look for big things again in 2019 as the line returns 6-foot-6, 265-pound, senior, Joshua Hull to pave the way for Haviland.

Taybor Vetter, Wamego, 5-9 160 Sr. Isaiah Childs, Wamego, 6-1 205 Sr.

Vetter and Childs can play a variety of spots and will double up to form one of the better backfields in the state in the smaller ranks. Both are the athlete position and could both line up in multiple spots. Childs played at Manhattan last year while Vetter emerged as a star return man in his first year at Wamego since coming over from Rock Creek. The two will be problems for a lot of 3A defenses to deal with if Wamego can take care of business up front.

Atreyau Hornbeak, Marysville, 6-1 200 Sr.

Hornbeak rushed for 1,170 yards and 17 touchdowns last season for Marysville. He has great size, vision and is a physical back that will be one of the best in 3A this season. Marysville has quite the cast of returnees for 2019.

Bryce Krone, Bonner Springs, 6-1 215 Sr., La’James White, KC Piper, 5-9 165, Connor Hasz, Paola, 5-7 150

The Frontier League always has talent and here is some of the key returnees at RB in the league. Krone rushed for over 1,300 yards as a junior last year for the Braves in earning SIK Non-Senior honors at running back. White was one of the top sophomore backs in the state last year for the Piper Pirates. He rushed for over 900 yards and should be one of the top juniors in the KC metro for 2019. James also has speed in the 4.4-4.5 HH range. Hasz has great strength for his size and earned second team all conference honors in a loaded league last season. 

Joe Williams, Wichita North, 5-9 165 Sr., Joshua Sanders, Wichita Heights, 5-7 180 Jr., Norman Massey, Wichita East, 6-2 200 Sr., Larry Cherry, Wichita Southeast Sr.

A few of Wichita backs that are looking for big years here. Wichita North showed some flashes last year at time and it was because of Williams who rushed for over 1,400 yards as a junior in the City League one year ago. Williams had just nine scores but averaged over six yards per carry on the ground. Sanders will look to take over the production that human highlight reel K’Vonte Baker did over the last three seasons. For his size, he is extremely strong. Look for a big year for him in the City League. Massey if used at running back could produce a big season for the Blue Aces. He has legit size and speed at 4.62 40. Look for a big year for all three of these athletes in the Wichita City League. Cherry could also experience a breakout year under first year head coach Taylor Counts. Cherry was an all league honorable mention pick last season.  

Tony Friends III, SM East, 5-7 170 Sr. , Marrell Fountain, Olathe East, 5-9 170, Jr. Andrew Nehrbass, Olathe South, 5-10 180 Jr. Tayezahn Crough, Gardner Edgerton, 6-0 175 Sr.

Sunflower League should have some very solid backs this year and here are a few of them. Friends was one of the best backs in the Sunflower League last season and will look to improve after a very solid junior season. The league has seen some recent improvement and has a lot of stars to shine in 2019. Fountain had over 1,000 yards rushing as a sophomore last year in one of the better leagues in Kansas while splitting carries. He is looking for a big year. Nehrbass rushed for over 1,000 yards in the SFL last season as a junior in earning SIK 2nd Team Non-Senior all-state honors.Crough is an elite hurdler in track and field that has speed to show for it. He has Division I offers and could project in the defensive backfield if needed. He makes the move to GE for his senior year after having a lot of success at Hutchinson where he will rejoin his old coach Ryan Cornelsen. Dangerous offense or defense with Crough and Teven McKelvey on it. GE has some dudes. Anthony Rodriguez is also a playmaker out of the loaded backfield for the Trailblazers that earned All-SFL honorable mention in 2018. 

Scott Grider, Halstead, 5-11 185 Sr.

Grider, the son of head coach Jason Grider, rushed for 1,434 yards and 21 touchdowns last year in just nine football games. Expect a big year for him in a league (CKL) that is always full of good rushers. Grider was a first team all-3A pick last season as a junior and his younger brother Doug is also one of the top 3A lineman returning. Kaden Kraus is also back from injury after missing all of last year and should be a great addition to go along with Grider.

Jaylin Richardson, Schlagle, 6-0 195 Sr.

Richardson has rushed for back to back years over 1,000 yards and had a nice year as a junior for Schlagle last year after transferring from KC Turner following his sophomore year. He has committed to play for the Kansas Jayhawks.

Tyler Green, Mill Valley, 5-10 205 Sr.

Green is a thick back that is hard to bring down. He also plays against the best defenses in the state week in and week out. Look for another big year for the senior out of Mill Valley.

Tate Seabolt, Cimarron, 5-8 180 Jr., Hunter Renick, Cimarron, 6-2 255 Jr., Kayden Christiansen, Lakin, Sr.

Three backs from the same league and all very different in what they do. Seabolt bursted onto the scene as a sophomore last fall following in the footsteps of his older brother Josh a former all-state player that played in the Kansas Shrine Bowl. He’s a tough back that is also an all-state wrestler. Look for a big season of him in the smaller school ranks. Seabolt rushed for over 1,500 yards last season. Renick may not carry the ball a lot but will be asked to be a big part of the offense as a fullback/h-back in 2019. He will be one of the bigger backs you’ll see out of Kansas. Christiansen, who was a former lineman, had a breakout year at the running back position with over 1,000 yards last season. Returning one of the best lineman in Kansas in front of you in Hadley Panzer doesn’t hurt so expect to see him with another big production year.

Hayden Brown, Hays, 5-11 180 Sr., Gage Fritz, Great Bend, 5-9 175 Sr.

The WAC will have some talent out of the backfield this year at the running back position, plus several QBs that can run it on our QB list. Brown, the son of successful Fort Hays State coach Chris Brown, is looking for a solid year on both sides of the football for the Hays High Indians. He can play multiple spots on either side of the football and is very versatile. He doubles as a very good receiver in addition to running back. Fritz is an athletic back that features a 4.6 40 and 33” vertical jump. He rushed for nearly 1,100 plus yards last season for the Panthers. They do lose Koy Brack at the quarterback but players like Fritz, Alex Schremmer, and Dalton Miller have the Panthers in the conversation for a team to watch in the WAC and 5A West.

Calvin Stapp, Colby, 5-10 180 Sr.

Stapp, as we referred to him in Faces in Kansas is basically the swiss army knife of the Colby Eagles, that can play multiple spots all over the field. He may shine best at running back and he has FBS prospect Aaron Kurth (6’7” 285) back to block for him. Colby has really improved as a program in recent memory but does lose Jordan Schippers to the Division I ranks at Western Illinois. Stapp also features sub 11 speed in the 100-meter dash (FAT).

Devin Neal, Lawrence, 5-11 190 Jr.

Neal is a freak athlete that is looking for a breakout junior season for Kansas high school coaching legend Steve Rampy who enters his second year with the program after a successful run as the Pitt State Offensive Coordinator. Rampy won multiple state titles at Blue Valley and built the program into a 5A/6A powerhouse. Neal has a 38 inch vertical, squats 545 and cleans 300. He has all the tools to become a big-time player this season and holds an offer from Kansas.

Darrien Holloway, Osborne, 5-11 170 Sr.

Holloway, one of the state’s best hurdlers with four individual state titles, had a breakout year as a junior last fall as the Bulldogs took runner-up in 8M-II. Gone is his brother Darnell, a quarterback, that will play receiver at Fort Hays State. However, Darrien will be asked to carry a lot of the load after rushing for over 1,500 yards and 33 touchdowns last year. Mason Schurr will also be a nice compliment with speed in the backfield and rushed for over 800 yards as a freshman last year.

Russell Wilkey, Junction City, Jr., Jaylen Carter, Washburn Rural, Sr.

The Centennial League is always a league full of skill players and its no different this year. We expect Wilkey to have a big year in 6A for the Bluejays after starting each of the last two seasons. Ky Thomas is the best player in the Centennial but it's time for new names to emerge with Barksdale and Kevontae McDonald gone from the league. Jaylen Carter should expect to fit in that role as an emerging player as well this year after earning second team all-league honors along with Wilkey.

Garrett Dalinghaus, Frankfort, 6-0 170 Sr. , Reece Struckhoff, Thunder Ridge, 5-10 190 Sr., Jace Wilson, Oswego, 5-10 160 Sr., Lawson Oeser, Central Plains Sr., Rylee Whelchel, Rock Hills, Sr. Brogan Myers, Cedar Vale/Dexter Jr., Eli Salmans, Hodgeman County, 6-2 205 Sr.

Dalinghaus is a physical small school player in the 8-man ranks that rushed for over 1,000 yards and 19 touchdowns a season ago. He was also a non-senior second team pick at linebacker last fall. Struckhoff sat out last year due to transfer rules but should be an immediate all-state caliber back for the Longhorns. He has weight room numbers off the charts after rushing for over 1,400 yards as a sophomore in 2017. Wilson emerged as one of the best junior 8M-I running backs last fall as he scored 21 touchdowns rushing for over 1,400 yards. He is also one of the better return men in Kansas. Matt Fowler had an immediate impact in Oswego taking them from a team that struggled to win any games to a playoff team. Wilson should have another huge year. Oeser didn’t have great stats last year but that is because CP had one of the best 8-man teams of all-time. He still managed 8.7 yards per carry and is one of the strongest players pound for pound in the state as a state powerlifting champion. He will look to be the go-to-guy in 2019 as the Oilers graduated a loaded senior class on their way to an undefeated 8M-I state title. Whelchel will look to take over the production that graduated in Zane Colson and Derek Gillett. Expect him to carry much of the load for the Rock Hills Grizzlies in 2019. Myers rushed for over 1,300 yards last season in just seven games so expect him to have a big season if healthy in 2019. Salmans rushed for 1,829 yards and 24 touchdowns last year for the Longhorns. He will again be one of the best players in the 8-man ranks.

Cole Coggins, Valley Heights, 5-10 150 Sr, Cooper Williams, Jackson Heights, 5-8 150 Sr., Jared Casey, Plainville, 6-0 220 Sr.

1A will have some solid backs for 2019. Coggins earned first team all-state honors in 1A last season after rushing for over 1,000 yards. Wiliams did the same exact thing and returns a solid cast of players in front of him for 2019. Both will be impact players in 1A Kansas again in 2019. Williams rushed for over 1,400 yards last season. Casey is a much different back than the other two and is more known as a all-state linebacker. He is one of the best multiple sport athletes in the smaller ranks of Kansas. He is a physical back that had over 900 yards rushing last year. Casey is so versatile that he could likely play any offensive line spot in high school and be an all-state running back in addition to most spots on the defensive side of the football. 

Sports in Kansas Other Top Running Backs to Watch in Kansas:

Wylie Weems – Hoxie, Mason Perez – Larned,  Hunter Boone – Prairie View, Gavan McDaniel – Olathe West, De’Aric Quinn – SM North, Parker Minnick – SM South, Treyvon Gilyard – SM West, Peyton Henry – Andover, Matt Ramey – Inman, Carson Rich – Spearville, Mason Schurr – Osborne, Caden Barber - Pittsburg, Jahawn Byrd – Leavenworth, Rashad Graves – KC Wyandotte, Konnor Tanahill – Holton, Nick Sarwinski – Galena, Cole Diffebaugh – Mulvane, Collin Koester- Conway Springs, Logan Budy – Jeff County North, Kynden Robert – Olpe, Blake Pohlmeier – Pleasanton, Luke Parks – Ell Saline, Jayvon Pruitt – Victoria, Sheldon Whalen – Wichtia County, Nasum Wasson – Madison, Trint Rogers – Chase County,Edwin Rodriguez – Ness City, Jeremy Pfaff- Minneola, , Beau Batchman – Sylvan Lucas, Kaden Kraus – Halstead, Quin Winttenauer – Mill Valley, Chase Jans – Blue Valley, Garrett Kellner – DeSoto, Charlie Koontz – Louisburg, Cael Budke – Chase County, Jaquan Stewart - Wichita North, Ryan Andrews - Augusta, Aidan Walsh - Collegiate, Peyton Winter - Conway Springs, Iverson Bello - Chaparral, Alan Anderson - Sterling, Michael Tujague - St. James Academy, Edward Thomas- BVNW, Edgar Hunley - BV West, Anthony Rodgriguez - Gardner Edgerton, Skyler Douglass - Emporia