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2021 Iowa State Football Position Preview: Running Backs

Breece WILL be in New York this season

Last season was a very impressive one for the Cyclone rushing attack. It’s no secret that Breece Hall was a bright spot on an already impressive team all around. Leading the nation in rushing last season, Hall is poised to do so again. Let’s take a dive into the running back room and look at the additional talent that surrounds Breece, in addition to looking at a key departure from last season.


Among the few departures from Ames that we had at the end of last season, Kene Nwangwu is one of the most notable. Although not the starter, Kene was able to work his way to seeing his name on television when the Minnesota Vikings selected him in the fourth round of this year’s NFL draft. Cyclone fans weren’t shocked. With Kene’s impressive speed and athleticism, we knew he would be a dark horse in the draft at the running back position.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Oregon v Iowa State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

New Guys

On top of what we already know is a star talent in Breece Hall, we have several other guys behind him that are new to the room or new to significant playing time that can certainly contribute big time in the near future. The first among those guys is a name we’ve seen before and that is Jirehl Brock.

Jirehl didn’t get a whole lot of run last season until later in the year, with Breece rushing for over 1,500 yards, but when he did get his opportunity, he ran hard. Averaging 4.6 yards from scrimmage, there is potential for him to take a little load off of Breece late in games this year, and really succeed in this new role.

One of the notable new additions to the team is 5’8” fury Deon Silas. This man is an absolute burner that can turn on the jets and accelerate by anyone lined up on the opposing side of the ball. On top of this top end speed, his shiftiness makes him a nightmare for future Big 12 defenses (if there is a Big 12). I also believe his short stature very well could be a benefit for him, sort of how teams struggled to see the 5’7” Maurice Jones-Drew when he was still playing.

The last “New Guy” I would like to give a little praise to is the four-star freshman from Arizona, Eli Sanders. Rated the 7th-best player in Arizona by Rivals, Sanders turned down offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, and that ugly yellow and black bumblebee of a school out East to come to the beautiful town of Ames, Iowa. Averaging 7.5 yards per carry as a senior on a 10-0 state championship team, it’s clear that Sanders has the capability to be the next bell-cow for our beloved Cyclones.

Leader of the Pack

Let’s just talk about some of the accolades already achieved by the second coming of number 28 before we get into what 2021 will look like for Breece:

First Team All-American – FWAA, AP, AFCA, Walter Camp, Sporting News (2020)

Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year – Coaches, AP (2020)

Heisman Trophy Top-6 (2020)

Doak Walker Award Finalist (2020)

First Team All-Big 12 – Coaches, AP (2020)

First Team True Freshman All-American – 247Sports (2019)

First Team All-Freshman Team – PFF (2019)

Second Team Freshman All-American – The Athletic (2019)

Second Team All-Big 12 - Coaches (2019)

Okay, now after reading that I want you to go back and peruse through those accomplishments again.

One more time.

Okay cool, so we are all in the same boat that we know, barring injury, that Breece Hall has nothing holding him short of yet another sensational season. With elite power, speed, and ability to get the ball North and South, I believe Breece Hall is the best running back to ever wear Cardinal and Gold, albeit we have had some pretty talented guys there (sorry Monty and Troy).

Breece Hall season/career stats:

2021 Projection

My projection is that Breece Hall will again be among the best in the country when it comes to rushing the football. On top of an insanely productive 1,752 yards from scrimmage in 2020, Breece now has a full off-season with strength coach Dave Andrews under his belt. Look for Breece to be inching his way at the top of the charts, and possibly battling for a spot in New York for Heisman voting.