Editor's note: In the latest of a postseason series on West Coast prep football prospects, recruiting expert Greg Biggins takes a look at the region's top running backs now that national signing day has come and gone:
It was an overall down year for running backs out West, but the talent at the top of the board was still strong. Our top five backs remained the same from the preseason but there was some significant movement in the rest of the top 20.
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.
It has been a rough couple of years for Brendon Bigelow. He suffered a torn ACL at the end of his junior season, rehabbed it all summer and then re-tore it just before his senior season. Despite the injuries, Bigelow is still clearly the top back in the region and a top five back nationally.
He’s a dynamic playmaker with explosive speed. He has a great initial burst, can make you miss in the open field and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. The athlete committed early in the process to Washington but switched his commitment to Cal just a few weeks before signing day. If healthy, he has the talent to make an early impact for the Bears.
Harvey Langi capped off an incredible career leading Bingham to a Utah state championship for the second year in a row. In his three years as the team's starting running back, Langi rushed for 4,289 yards and 55 touchdowns and has the kind of size and power that could get him on the field early for the Utes. He has great hands out of the backfield as well and was a huge coup for Utah, choosing the Utes over USC.
You don’t see too many players commit early to Stanford and then renege on their commitment later. That’s just what happened with Amir Carlisle who switched his commitment to USC just a few weeks before signing day. Carlisle had a big senior campaign rushing for 2,110 yards and 25 touchdowns while averaging almost 10 yards a carry. Some feel the athlete could be moved to receiver in college but he’ll start out in the backfield and could be a difference maker for the Trojans.
Kelsey Young was flying a bit under the radar in the preseason, despite rushing for over 1,000 yards as a junior. He showed why Stanford offered him so early with a monster senior year rushing for 2,008 yards and 30 touchdowns. His coming out party came against Crenshaw (Los Angeles, Calif.) in Week 3 when he outplayed Cougars athlete DeAnthony Thomas in Norco’s upset win.
Arizona landed a pair of top 10 backs headlined by KaDeem Carey. Carey rushed for more than 4,400 yards and scored 69 touchdowns over the last two seasons and has been called one of the best backs the state has produced in the last few years. He still has some work to do academically but assuming he qualifies, Carey should see the field in Tucson sooner rather than later.
*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.
*Preseason rankings are in parentheses
The Top 10:
1. (1) Brendon Bigelow, 5-9, 175, Fresno (Calif.) Central -- California
May not have played a down as a senior, but is still the best prospect on this list.
2. (2) Harvey Langi, 6-2, 215, South Jordan (Utah) Bingham -- Utah
Led team to a state title and could play early for the Utes.
3. (3) Amir Carlisle, 5-10, 170, Sunnyvale (Calif.) The King's Academy -- USC
All-purpose back who does so many things well and has great hands.
4. (4) Kelsey Young, 5-10, 185, Norco (Calif.) -- Stanford
A true home run threat who can score from anywhere on the field.
5. (5) KaDeem Carey, 5-10, 185, Tucson (Ariz.) Canyon Del Oro -- Arizona
Nearly committed late to Arizona State but stuck with the Cats.
6. (6) Bishop Sankey, 5-11, 185, Spokane (Wash.) Gonzaga Prep -- Washington
Last-minute flip from Washington State to UW was key for the Dawgs' class.
7. (8) Jared Baker, 5-9, 180, Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola -- Arizona
Had another big season and will battle Carey for early reps at UA.
8. (11) Brandon Wright, 5-10, 185, Las Vegas (Nev.) Palo Verde -- San Diego State
Talented two-way player who could end up at corner if RB doesn’t work out.
9. (7) Jordan Perkins, 5-11, 175, Lodi (Calif.) --- Northwestern
Injured early but came on strong the latter part of the season.
10. (9) Will Gregory, 6-0, 180, Compton (Calif.) Dominguez -- Hawaii
Had Pac 10 interest at safety but dream was to play running back in college.
The Next 10:
11. (NR) Malcolm Creer, 5-11, 200, Pacific Palisades (Calif.) Palisades -- Colorado
12. (12) De'Saan Hardwick, 5-11, 170, San Diego (Calif.) Madison -- San Diego State
13. (10) DaSean Martin, 5-9, 190, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bonanza -- Unsigned
14. (NR) Steven Manfro, 5-10, 175, Valencia (Calif.) -- UCLA
15. (14) Superiorr Reid, 6-2, 195, Riverside (Calif.) Arlington -- Nevada
16. (18) Robert Johnson, 5-9, 210, Fresno (Calif.) Central -- Unsigned
17. (13) Shaquille Richard, 5-9, 165, Gardena (Calif.) Serra -- Portland State
18. (NR) Dillon Root, 5-11, 170, Visalia (Calif.) Redwood -- Fresno State
19. (15) Kendall Brock, 5-8, 185, Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West -- Nevada
20. (NR) Todd Handley, 5-8, 170, Riverside (Calif.) Martin Luther King -- Idaho
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.