Top running backs on the Shrine Bowl 1000: Pac-12’s Zach Charbonnet and Tavion Thomas highlight the position

With the release of the Shrine Bowl 1000, who are the top running backs you should be aware of for the 2022 college football season?

The East-West Shrine Bowl has officially announced their top preseason athletes for the 2022 college football season and the 2023 all-star circuit. A list that spans 1,000 players, today we aim to narrow down the list to some of the top players at their respective positions. With eyes on their NFL Draft projection, here are the top running backs from the Shrine Bowl 1000.

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Who are the top running backs on the Shrine Bowl 1000 list?

Based on the full Shrine Bowl 1000, the top running backs are a star-studded group of upperclassmen and surefire prospects to watch this fall. As we start out west, it’s important to note that not every draft-eligible player was available for the watch list. Certain criteria must be met in terms of academic standing, class level, and other factors to make the list. With that in mind, here are the top running backs from the Shrine Bowl 1000.

Zach Charbonnet, UCLA

After two seasons at Michigan, Zach Charbonnet burst onto the scene with UCLA in 2021. A bowling ball to tackle, Charbonnet’s downhill running style paved the way to 13 touchdowns and a robust average of 5.7 yards per carry last season. He was a focal point of the Bruins offense that seemingly got over the proverbial hump for head coach Chip Kelly and Co. Charbonnet is difficult to bring down both on runs between the tackles and in the open field. He’s currently ranked as our fifth overall running back in the PFN Mock Draft Simulator.

Tavion Thomas, Utah

Cracking the list of top-10 overall running backs for the 2023 NFL Draft, Tavion Thomas from Utah is also prominently featured on the Shrine Bowl 1000. Thomas was an avid explorer of wide-open holes for the Utes last season, but he has the ability to create on his own just fine. He flipped a switch after he was benched for fumbling issues, as those never came to light again. A fantastic one-cut runner with deceptive power, Thomas ran for 21 touchdowns last season, including 15 scores over his last six outings.

Christopher Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky

With terrific size to frame density, Christopher Rodriguez Jr. looks the part of a franchise running back. What separates him, however, is his ability in all facets. He’ll chip in with impressive blocking skills as well as hauling in passes out of the backfield if necessary. Rodriguez has terrific speed and an ability in the open field that may be unmatched for a man his size. He’s currently slated as the PFN Mock Draft Simulator’s 10th-ranked running back and finds a spot on the Shrine Bowl’s list of top running backs.

Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota

Returning from injury in 2022, Mohamed Ibrahim brings with him a ferocious running style with even better footwork. He’s a multi-time 1,000-yard rusher, having rushed for over 3,000 yards in his career. He was injured in the season-opening game against Ohio State a season ago, a game in which he was dominating the Buckeyes and may have gone differently for the Golden Gophers had he not been hurt. Ibrahim is a bully with the ball in his hands, initiating contact and serving up punishing hits to would-be tacklers.

Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State

Playing second-fiddle to Pierre Strong Jr. last season, Isaiah Davis had a bit of a coming-out party late in the season. He rushed for nearly all of his 700 rushing yards over a three-game stretch that saw him also bruise his way to seven scores on the ground. Davis has ridiculous size at 6’1″ and over 220 pounds, yet possesses elite speed and maintains the fact that he’s a home-run threat with the ball in his hands.

Eric Gray, Oklahoma

After spending two seasons at Tennessee, Eric Gray complemented Kennedy Brooks at Oklahoma last year. With the show firmly his in 2022 in Norman, Gray can utilize his compact frame and ability to make defenders miss in the proverbial phone booth to eat up yardage this fall. Gray, currently cracking the top 200 on the PFN Mock Draft Simulator, can vault up draft rankings with all eyes on him with the Sooners this season.

Chase Brown, Illinois

It’s been quite an interesting career for Chase Brown. After one season with Western Michigan, Brown went south to Illinois and had to wait his turn for the Illini. When his time to shine a season ago came, Brown rushed for over 1,000 yards and increased his yards-per-carry average for the third time in his career. He’s a bruiser with plenty of ability to break arm tacklers both in space or at the line of scrimmage. Brown has a compact frame and presents issues with his ability out of the backfield as well.

Travis Dye, USC

One of the most hard-nosed and truly old-fashioned running backs of this generation, Travis Dye is a brutal man to try and tackle in the open field. Maybe because he’ll initiate contact or the lack of gloves, armbands, and general aesthetics on his arms, Dye is fearsome to defenders. Making the move to USC after rushing for over 3,000 yards in his Oregon career, Dye can vault up draft boards with yet another great season in what will be a new offense that could show his pro-readiness more so than Oregon’s would have this fall.

Hassan Hall, Georgia Tech

Ready to eat up the carries vacated when Jahmyr Gibbs transferred to Alabama, Hassan Hall enters the lineup at Georgia Tech after he himself transferred away from Louisville. Hall had middling success with Louisville over the years but did prove to be a bit of a home-run threat when he was healthy. He took over a game against Virginia a season ago, and if he consistently proves to be an influential factor in Georgia Tech’s offense this season, he could be a factor in the 2023 NFL Draft all the same and is a worthy addition to this list of top running backs.

Isaiah Bowser, UCF

Like so many players nowadays, Isaiah Bowser saw great success in a new setting last season. After three years with Northwestern, Bowser set a new career-high in rushing touchdowns as well as yards per carry with UCF in 2021. Bowser isn’t a speed threat, but he certainly will bowl you over if you attempt to come at him with a weak tackle attempt. Bowser spots his place on the Shrine Bowl 1000 with several Knight teammates as Bowser may be the most integral member of the UCF offense as they get used to life with Mikey Keene at quarterback full time again.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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