2022 USFL Top Ten Running Back Candidates

2022 USFL Top Ten Running Back Candidates

The USFL is back baby! A relaunch of the once-famous football league that has produced stars like Jim Kelly and Steve Young. Along with Running backs like Herschel Walker, could there be another player on his path this season? Although the USFL has a tight lock on the player list we do know some of the players who are in the mix. Of this shortlist, here are the top 10 running backs in the 2022 USFL Draft.



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2022 USFL Top Ten Running Back Candidates

1. C.J. Marable

College: Coastal Carolina 
Professional Experience: Chicago Bears (NFL)
Measurements: 5-10, 200 pounds
Last College Stats: 491 carries, 2691 yards, 29 touchdowns, 84 receptions 703 yards 12 touchdowns 

After a season on the Bears practice squad, it looks like C.J. Marable is going to try and make a name for himself in the USFL. In his college career, he totaled over 3,300 scrimmage yards for Coastal Carolina. He was a dual-threat weapon for them, he had back-to-back 30 reception seasons. He has great hands and good route-running skills. This is the gravy on top of his rushing ability. In 2019 he had a 1,000-yard season and carries 5.5 yards per carry for his career. He has good vision and patience as a runner allowing him to get free a lot. Pairing this with decent power, 4.4 speed, and good elusiveness he is a total package. We could see him become one of the top running backs taken in the 2022 USFL Draft this Tuesday.


2. Ladarius Galloway

College: UTM
Professional Experience: Calgary Stampeders (CFL), Sea Lions (TSL), Fan Controlled Football
Measurements: 5-8, 205 pounds
Last College Stats: 308 carries, 1420 yards, 9 touchdowns, 50 receptions 555 yards, 2 touchdowns 

In 2021 he led the Sea Lions of the TSL in yards with 319 yards in 5 games. He averaged over 6 yards a carry along with over 5 yards a reception. This was all after he was cut by the Stampeders of the CFL in the preseason. This was a surprise as he was averaging over 10 yards a play. Looking at his overall skill set he has decent speed that he pairs with good elusiveness. This makes him a hard tackle in the open field.

Along with this, he has very good receiving skills out of the backfield. One of his best traits is his vision as well he processes and finds the hole or cut back quickly. Also, with his low and stocky frame, he has great power and leg strength to move piles and run through defenders. Due to all these raw traits he possesses, he could become one of the top running backs in the USFL draft.

3. Devwah Whaley

College: Arkansas
Professional Experience: Dresden Monarchs (Germany)
Measurements: 5-11, 212 pounds
Last College Stats: 388 carries, 1807 yards, 16 touchdowns, 38 receptions 426 yards, 1 touchdown

At Arkansas Devwah Whaley burst onto the scene as a freshman, producing over 741 yards from scrimmage. He was a big-bodied back who would not shy away from contact. However, he was light on his feet and had decent elusiveness in the open field. He has shown good speed once he gets north and south as well as good vision and solid contact balance. This past season he played 5 games for the Dresden Monarchs in Germany. Rushing for 571 yards on 89 carries, along with 7 rushing touchdowns. He helped lead the Monarchs to their first championship in 8 years. With the USFL Draft coming up on Tuesday I expect him to be one of the top running backs taken. At the age of 23, there is a lot left in the tank for this big powerful back.

4. Ja’Quan Gardner

College: Humboldt St.  
Professional Experience: San Francisco 49ers (NFL), Seattle Dragons (XFL), San Diego Fleet (AAF)
Measurements: 5-6, 160 pounds
Last College Stats: 880 carries, 5495 yards, 72 touchdowns, 81 receptions 767 yards, 4 touchdowns

The Mighty Mouse of this USFL Draft running backs class. The shortest of the confirmed draft-eligible players should not be overlooked. He had an amazing collegiate career at Humboldt State, finishing as the school’s all-time leading rusher and leading scorer. He also broke the single-game rushing record with 313 yards in one game. This earned him a look as an undrafted free agent with the 49ers. He would not make the team in 2018, however.

In 2019 he joined the San Diego Fleet of the AAF, appearing in 7 games for them. Rushing for 311 yards, on 64 carries, and scoring 3 touchdowns. Also adding 12 receptions for 107 yards. In 2020 he joined the XFL and had the chance to appear in 5 games for the Dragons. He possesses good speed and burst. This paired with his contact balance and power makes him a hard tackle in the open field. I believe he has a chance to make a name for himself in the USFL in 2022.

5. Isaiah Strayhorn

College:  NW Missouri State 
Professional Experience: Bismarck Bucks (IFL)
Measurements: 5-10, 195 pounds
Last College Stats: 245 carries, 1525 yards, 12 touchdowns, 11 receptions 40 yards, 0 touchdowns

In his career at NW Missouri State, he led the team in rushing in 2018. However, he took a step back in 2019 rushing for 200 fewer yards. He did not find a home in NFL in 2020 so he took his talent to the Indoor Football League. He would only play in two games for the Bucks but took his three kickoff returns for 44 yards and a touchdown. As a runner we see good speed once he gets in the open field, he can run away from most defenders.

Pairing this with good vision and the ability to shed tackler’s he is a big play waiting to happen. He can turn upfield fast and lower the shoulder when needed. He lacks a receiving history though, so we will have to see if this limits his draft upside. If he gets drafted to the right team he could emerge as one of the best running backs in USFL.



6. Ray Lawry

College: Old Dominion 
Professional Experience: Cincinnati Bengals (NFL), Kansas City Chiefs(NFL), St Louis Battlehawks (XFL), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL)
Measurements: 5-11, 200 pounds
Last College Stats: 659 carries, 4080 yards, 45 touchdowns, 60 receptions 496 yards, 3 touchdowns

Ray Lawry still holds the Old Dominion school record for all-time leading rusher and rushing touchdowns. He burst onto the scene in 2014 with over 900 rushing yards as a freshman leading to him being named team MVP. This level of play would continue through his college career. He displayed excellent vision and had a good ability to help set up blocks with subtle movements. This allowed him to get free and show off his above-average speed.

However, if you did get in the way he had enough power to run you over and drag you for a few extra yards. Along with this, he carries a good set of hands making him a viable receiving option. Unfortunately, he was never able to crack an NFL lineup. He did spend time with the Bengals and Chiefs before moving on to the CFL. He was unable to make the roster and was cut in the preseason. I expect to see him get a chance in the USFL Draft; he has the resume to become one of the top running backs in the league.


7. De’Sean McNair

College: Elon  
Professional Experience: None
Measurements: 5-9, 220 pounds
Last College Stats:  487 carries, 1912 yards, 21 touchdowns, 52 receptions 514 yards, 4 touchdowns

As a freshman, he was named the team’s most outstanding newcomer after leading the team in carries, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns.  Over his four years at Elon, he showed good patience paired with good vision. This allowed him to use his sought frame to bully the linebackers and defensive backs in the second level. He possesses the ability to freeze defenders with subtle moves and then work off that with good speed to make big plays. His best attribute is his tackle-breaking ability though, he can make you miss with finesse or power by simply running through your tackle attempts. As a receiver, he has shown that he has sure hands and can run decent routes. There is a good chance that he emerges as one of the top running backs from this 2022 USFL Draft.


8. Shane Simpson

College: Virginia 
Professional Experience: None
Measurements: 5-10, 205 pounds
Last College Stats: 228 carries, 1132 yards, 11 touchdowns, 56 receptions 546 yards, 6 touchdowns

As Shane Simpson started his college career at Towson he amassed over 1,000 scrimmage yards. While scoring double-digit touchdowns in the 2018 season. He went on to transfer to Virginia after a knee injury ended his 2019 campaign. In the Virginia offense, he was used more as a spell back. However, he continued to show good traits one of which was his hands.

He is a receiving threat out of the backfield with great hands and averaged over 10 yards a reception in 2020. As far as a runner he uses his patience and good vision to find the holes and then leads with power. By no means is he a track star but he has serviceable speed that allows him to pick up chunks when in the open field.  These traits will appeal to many coaches in the USFL Draft, if given a lead role he could emerge as a top running back in the USFL this season.


9. Elliot Taylor

College: Arizona  
Professional Experience: Lineman (TSL)
Measurements: 5-10, 186 pounds
Last College Stats: 8 carries, 42 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 receptions 0 yards, 0 touchdowns

Sadly, Elliot Taylor never received a chance to show Arizona what they had. He would only appear in two games in his two seasons at Arizona.  After being out of football for over eight years he joined The Spring League this past year. He totaled 117 yards on 20 carries for the Linemen. However, in this limited action, he looked good. He had good patience and vision at the line of scrimmage. Along with this, he showed some good burst allowing him to pick up large chunks of yardage. His contact balance and ability to power through tacklers were extremely good. As one of the least experienced players in the draft, he will most likely be used as a committee back. However, he does possess good skills that could help him become a solid player in the USFL.

10. Tre King

College: Texas Tech 
Professional Experience: None
Measurements: 5-11, 190 pounds
Last College Stats: 171 carries, 783 yards, 6 touchdowns, 25 receptions 152 yards, 0 touchdowns

As a Red Raider Tre King made a name for himself early on. He showed good patience as a runner. This allowed him to find cut-back lanes, blocks to set up, and defenders to over pursue. He has enough speed to made them pay for getting out of position. However, he is no track star and lacks that home run speed. Although he makes up for that with good power and tackle-breaking ability. He was always falling forward after contact.

As a receiver, he won’t blow you away, but he can get the job done when called upon. He has been removed from the game since 2018, so my worry is what kind of shape is he in. I do think he will be drafted Tuesday night in the USFL Draft, I do not think he will be one of the top running backs though. A backup or special package back seems like a good fit for him.


The Rest of The Field

This is just a small sample of players who are eligible for the 2022 USFL Draft. A few others like Kelvin Taylor (Florida), Terry Hunter (Lincoln), and Brain Burt (Fresno St.) are also leaked players. Unfortunately, the league is keeping the whole list on lockdown until the draft. So, there could be other players who could emerge as a top running back in this 2022 draft class. Some big names rumored to be with the USFL are Trent Richardson. He is currently playing in the Mexican LFA and former All-American for Alabama. Another big name could be De’Veon Smith who most recently lead the XFL in rushing. Rushing for 365 yards on 90 carries in 5 game season. Make sure to check back to the Sports Gambling Podcast for all the USFL coverage.


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