The best running back in all of college football resides in Ames, Iowa.
No, this isn’t a sentence born in 1996, when Iowa State Running Back Troy Davis was plowing through defenders and turning heads on an awful Iowa State team. Davis, who inexplicably lost to Florida Quarterback Danny Wuerffel and placed second in Heisman voting, rushed for 2185 yards behind an offensive line that couldn’t block a stationary folding chair.
This is about Breece Hall, who has not received the attention he should be getting from a media enamored with traditional powerhouses and the SEC, because, as everyone knows, it just means more.
This is about the only running back in the country with over 1,000 yards this season. This is about the running back with the 2nd most TDs in all of college football. This is about the running back who leads the nation in yards per game (minimum 4 games played). This is about a player who has put up objectively better numbers than the two running backs who are receiving more attention than he is in Alabama’s Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne.
Don’t get me wrong, both Harris and Etienne are incredible, and certainly deserve credit for what they’ve done. But Breece has done more, with considerably less, and is being punished for it, apparently. Alabama’s offensive line is routinely considered one of, if not THE, best in the country. “Little Ole Clemson’s” offense is riddled with 4- and 5-star talent. Iowa State’s? Not so much. Now, does Iowa State’s offensive line deserve some credit? Absolutely. But there are no high-level draft picks to be seen here.
Hall, like I mentioned above, is tops in the country in rush yards with 1034, more than 100 more than the next closest running back. Najee Harris sits in 11th, with 714 yards. Etienne in 15th, with 634. Breece Hall averages 6.27 yards per carry, while Harris averages 6.76. Etienne doesn’t even crack the top 50.
So then why is Hall being overlooked?
Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde doesn’t even mention Hall’s name in his most recent Heisman piece, though Alabama’s Harris and Clemson’s Etienne are discussed.
Bleacher Report refuses to acknowledge Hall in their Week 10 Heisman Race Update, while again mentioning Harris and Etienne.
When asked about Hall’s performance against Baylor, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said, “Matt Campbell is still leaving, stop DMing me on Twitter.”*
Google “Breece Hall Heisman” and tell me which websites pop up. The Iowa State Daily, the Des Moines Register, and Heartland College Sports are the only “major” publications that pop up. No ESPN. No Sports Illustrated. No Fox Sports. No CBS Sports. Nothing.
So why isn’t Breece getting the attention he deserves? Probably because he doesn’t have a cursive “A” on the side of his helmet. Or an SEC logo on his jersey. Or play for a team in the Top 5. But this award isn’t about conference supremacy, or national relevancy. That would be ridiculous, right? Surely these national media outlets would want to recognize the most deserving players, and not pander to fanbases who pay the bills and keep the lights on, right?
Is that a narcissistic way of looking at things? Probably. But the spirit of 1996 lives on. It’s not a coincidence that Breece Hall and Troy Davis share the same jersey number. Davis had a legendary season and finished 2nd in Heisman voting. He at least was recognized and invited to New York. Hall isn’t even considered one of the best running backs in the country, and almost certainly won’t be invited to New York (it’s a QB’s world, and we’re all livin’ in it).
Look, I’m not calling for Breece to jump the likes of future J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! QB Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State star Justin Fields. Admitting he is one of the best backs in the country is good enough for me. Acknowledging his greatness is enough. Because we all know if Hall played at any other school, he would be getting the recognition he deserves.
*quote may or may not be fabricated