It doesn’t take an elite football mind to figure out why Saquon Barkley and Derrius Guice are household names and Larry Rose III might as well be a D3 basketball player.
Rose was a two-star recruit in the 2014 class with one FBS offer. He was the No. 160 running back in the nation, No. 424 prospect in Texas and No. 2,780 player overall (247Sports). Barkley and Guice were both four-star players ranked among the best at their position in 2015 and pushed wheelbarrows overflowing with Power Five offers.
The former is a fringe NFL Draft prospect who plays at New Mexico State, a program with more zero-win seasons that six-win ones in the last 15 years. The latter duo are first-round prospects who play at Penn State and LSU, storied programs entering 2017 with playoff expectations.
Despite the anonymity, Rose was a better running back in 2016, at least according to Pro Football Focus. Though there are flaws in the grading system, it’s still remarkable that the little-known Rose, who had just 865 yards and four touchdowns on 159 carries in 2016 (missed three games due to injury), is the highest-graded returning running back in college football.
No returning running backs in college football did it better than these three in 2016. pic.twitter.com/noIZoN8K4J
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) June 13, 2017
And 2016 wasn’t close to his best season. The 5-foot-11, 184-pounder dazzled as a true freshman and sophomore, racking up 2,753 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns on 426 carries (6.5 average). He also has 78 passes for 635 yards in three seasons.
“He’s got that drive and commitment to keep improving. [Julian] Edelman was the same way,” said Aggies’ head coach Doug Martin, comparing Rose to his former player at Kent State. “I could certainly see Larry playing in the NFL because of how well he does in the passing game. He could be an excellent third-down back at the very least.”
As Barkley and Guice — both elite playmakers who will flirt with 1,800-yard seasons, the Heisman Trophy and top-10 consideration in the 2018 draft — continue earning deserved national headlines, Rose flies under the radar.