Whereas a year ago, the region was loaded at the running back position in what might have been the strongest year at the position in the last decade, the overall talent and depth is a bit down this year.
Brendon Bigelow is the top back in the region and a big-time talent. He suffered a torn ACL at the end of his junior season but when healthy, is a top five back nationally. He’s explosive with the ability to score from anywhere on the field.
Bigelow gave an early commitment to Washington but Cal and USC are trying hard to steal him from the Huskies. He’s still not 100% yet but Central is hopeful he’ll be ready to roll by mid-season.
Harvey Langi looks too tall to play running back but his overall skill set for a big back is as impressive as anyone you’ll see. He was the RB MVP at the loaded NIKE Camp in Miami and attended the event in South Florida saying he wanted to see how he stacked up against all that talent in the South. He’s a downhill runner with great power, but surprisingly nimble and has the best pair of hands we saw all summer.
Amir Carlisle has seen his stock rise with a great spring and summer. He had a strong showing at the GridIron Kings all-star 7-on-7 event in Orlando, Fla., and his recruitment has definitely picked up. Although a solid commitment to Stanford, Carlisle will officially visit USC and Notre Dame before making a final decision.
Kelsey Young split time with two other backs last season but still rushed for over 1,000 yards while averaging almost 11 yards a carry. Young has the size potential to grow in to a between the tackle, but his gift is his speed as he’s among the fastest football players in the state and once he sees daylight, he’s gone.
KaDeem Carey will finish his career as one of the most prolific running backs in state history. Carey has a great burst and seems to hit full speed within two or three yards. He’s a decisive runner who gets downfield and has a great nose for the end zone.
*Editors Note -- For those wondering why Crenshaw (Los Angeles, Calif.) athlete De’Anthony Thomas isn’t listed here, he will be listed with the cornerbacks and is the top player at the position in the region.
The Top 10:
1. Brendon Bigelow, 5-9, 175, Fresno (Calif.) Central -- Washington: A true home-run threat and one of the most dynamic players in the country.
2. Harvey Langi, 6-2, 215, South Jordan (Utah) Bingham: Great size and power but very smart and knows how to play the game.
3. Amir Carlisle, 5-10, 170, Sunnyvale (Calif.) The King's Academy -- Stanford: Explosive athlete with great hands out of the backfield.
4. Kelsey Young, 5-10, 185, Norco (Calif.) -- Stanford:
Norco always has a great back and Young is the top guy in the SoCal region this year.
5. KaDeem Carey, 5-10, 185, Tucson (Ariz.) Canyon Del Oro -- Arizona: Scored an amazing 43 touchdowns last year, natural instincts for the position.
6. Bishop Sankey, 5-11, 185, Spokane (Wash.) Gonzaga Prep -- Washington State: Total package of size, speed and power.
7. Jordan Perkins, 5-11, 175, Lodi (Calif.) -- Committed to Stanford: Was RB MVP at the NIKE Camp at Stanford.
8. Jared Baker, 5-9, 180, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola -- Arizona: Tremendous speed and clocked a 10.6-100m a year ago.
9. Will Gregory, 6-0, 180, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez:
Earned 2nd team all-state underclass honors as a junior and rushed for 23 TDs.
10. DaSean Martin, 5-9, 190, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bonanza: Tough, physical runner who plays a lot bigger than 190 pounds.
The Next 10:
11. Brandon Wright, 5-10, 185,Las Vegas (Nev.) Palo Verde
12. De'Saan Hardwick, 5-11, 170, San Diego (Calif.) Madison -- San Diego State
13. Shaquille Richard, 5-9, 165, Gardena (Calif.) Serra
14. Superiorr Reid, 6-2, 195, Riverside (Calif.) Arlington
15. Kendall Brock, 5-8, 185, Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West -- Nevada
16. Sam Atoe, 6-0, 205, Santa Rosa (Calif.) Maria Carrillo
17. Chester Su’a, 6-1, 195, Honolulu (Hawaii) Kaimuki -- Washington State
18. Robert Johnson, 5-9, 210, Fresno (Calif.) Central
19. Jesse Carney, 5-8, 165, Kailua (Hawaii) Kalaheo
20. Nick Richardson, 5-6, 140, Los Alamitos (Calif.)
The Top Five:
1. Bryson McKenzie, 5-11, 230, Provo (Utah) Timpview:
Plays running back for Timpview but projects as a fullback in college.
2. Elijhaa Penny, 6-2, 245, Norwalk (Calif.) -- Washington: One of the most versatile players in the West and could play on either side of the ball.
3. Dezden Petty, 6-1, 225, Gardena (Calif.) -- San Diego State: Tough, physical runner and a great fit in the Aztecs' offense.
4. Jordan Welte, 5-11, 215 Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman: Two-way standout and is also one of the state’s top linebackers.
5. Cleavon Barnes, 5-10, 215, Lancaster (Calif.): Was one of the big surprises of the SoCal NIKE Camp and has a nice upside to him.
Greg Biggins is an occasional contributor to the ESPNLosAngeles.com Preps Blog. For more recruiting news, check out his Insider blog on West Coast recruiting.