All but one of the running backs on the All-Mountain West teams in 2022 have moved on. So the league is going to see plenty of up-and-coming stars rise to the occasion in 2023.
Here’s a ranking of the best running backs in the Mountain West.
Best Mountain West Running Backs, Ranked
|1||George Holani||Boise State|
|3||John Lee Eldridge III||Air Force|
|5||Kairee Robinson||San Jose State|
1. George Holani, Boise State
Boise State’s backfield is loaded with talent, as Ashton Jeanty might also deserve to be on this list as well. But Holani is clearly the leader for the Broncos’ rushing attack.
Holani is the only running back who made an All-Mountain West team in 2022, as he was on the second team last year, who will be returning to play in the conference this season. The 5-foot-11, 209-pound redshirt senior was third in the league with 1,157 rushing yards, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt, and was tied for fifth with 10 touchdowns.
Holani was also on the all-conference second team in 2019, the year he also became the Mountain West Freshman of the Year by totaling 1,014 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. He’s recorded 2,848 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing and 71 receptions, 578 yards, and eight touchdowns through the air in 40 games the past four years.
Holani will surely finish his Boise State career out strong.
2. Harrison Waylee, Wyoming
Waylee transferred to Wyoming this offseason after thriving in the MAC.
While playing for Northern Illinois, Waylee was sixth in the MAC last year with 899 yards on the ground to go with five touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The 5-10, 198-pound junior earned all-conference third-team honors as he averaged 81.7 rushing yards per game, which was top 50 in the country.
Waylee also caught 17 passes which led to 119 yards. He paced NIU with 1,018 all-purpose yards.
Waylee will certainly prove to be a good addition for the Cowboys.
3. John Lee Eldridge III, Air Force
Brad Roberts was Air Force’s offensive catalyst last year as he led the country in rushing yards in 2022. But Eldridge still proved to be a great back with fewer carries.
The 5-9, 195-pound junior was 11th in the Mountain West with 766 rushing yards to go with four touchdowns. His 7.7 yards-per-carry average was among the best in the country.
He also caught a pass for four yards last year. In 2021, he totaled 21 yards on three carries.
If Eldridge sees as much work as Roberts did last season, he is going to flourish.
4. Tylan Hines, Hawaii
Hines wasn’t his team’s leading rusher last year, but he was still among the top 15 players in the Mountain West in that category.
Hines, a 5-7, 175-pound sophomore, only had 11 carries in the first four games of the season. But once he became more involved in the team’s offense, he took advantage.
Hines ended up rushing for 634 yards, which was 14th in the league, while averaging 7.6 yards per carry to go with two touchdowns on the ground. He also caught nine passes for 82 yards.
Expect Hines to take another step up in 2023.
5. Kairee Robinson, San Jose State
Robinson was among the best in the Mountain West at finding the end zone last year.
The 5-7, 189-pound graduate student tied for fifth with 10 rushing touchdowns last season to go with 752 yards on the ground, which was 12th. He added 144 yards on 26 catches.
Though 2022 was his best season, Robinson has been involved with SJSU’s offense since 2019. He’s tallied 1,464 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing and 476 yards and three touchdowns on 70 receptions.
Robinson should only be better in 2023.