2024 Mountain West RB Rankings: Who Battles for No. 2 Behind Ashton Jeanty?

    Jacory Croskey-Merritt's departure from New Mexico leaves Boise State's Ashton Jeanty in a tier of his own in the 2024 Mountain West RB Rankings.

    The Mountain West was home to two All-American-level running backs last season: Boise State’s Ashton Jeanty and New Mexico’s Jacory Croskey-Merritt. However, Croskey-Merritt is joining former San Jose State head coach Brent Brennan at Arizona, leaving Jeanty alone at the top of the conference.

    Who challenges for the No. 2 spot in our 2024 Mountain West RB Rankings?

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    Mountain West 2024 RB Rankings

    Spring practices have just begun, and many programs have yet to update their rosters. Nevertheless, the conference is not short on talent at running back, and these are the best of the best.

    10) Floyd Chalk IV, San Jose State Spartans

    On top of undergoing a coaching change, San Jose State lost their top two RBs from last season, Kairee Robinson and Quali Conley. Thus, new head coach Ken Niumatalolo and his staff targeted the transfer portal for a talent infusion.

    Former Grambling State RB Floyd Chalk IV generated 696 yards and nine touchdowns on 123 carries, but over 50% of his yardage came on just 17 attempts. He’s obviously a big-play threat, but he’ll need to be more productive on a carry-to-carry basis for the Spartans to avoid a dramatic falloff in 2024.

    9) Tylan Hines, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

    Injuries have severely stunted Tylan Hines’ output, but he’s one of the most explosive backs in the conference. His small frame (5’7″ and 175 pounds) and short-area quickness allow him to teleport in the backfield, leading to multiple missed tackles. A home-run threat on any down, a healthy Hines could take Hawaii’s already-explosive offense to another level.

    8) Jambres Dubar, Boise State Broncos

    Jeanty is the unquestioned starter, but George Holani leaving for the draft opens up Jambres Dubar for an expanded workload. As a freshman, he took 62 carries for 335 yards and two TDs, and with 133 carries up for grabs, the well-built former four-star will have every opportunity to prove he’s the future of the Broncos’ backfield.

    7) Justin Marshall, Colorado State Rams

    Jay Norvell has emphasized throwing the ball during his tenure at Colorado State. In 2023, that resulted in a slew of turnovers and an inefficient running attack … outside of Week 11-13. Why? Because in those three games, freshman Justin Marshall posted these rushing lines: 20-94-1, 19-98, and 18-119-1.

    MORE: 2024 Mountain West Weekly Football Schedule

    He had to generate most of that production on his own, forcing missed tackles and picking up yards after contact. As the RB1, Marshall will challenge for a spot on the All-Mountain West team.

    6) Dylan Carson, Air Force Falcons

    John Lee Eldridge III and Owen Burk are gone, leaving the backfield to Dylan Carson. If you squint, Carson’s game has shades of former Falcons star Brad Roberts. And if he receives the lion’s share of the carries next season — which he should — in an offense with question marks at QB, Carson will put up numbers.

    5) Jai’Den Thomas, UNLV Rebels

    Losing Vincent Davis is significant for the Rebels, but true freshman Jai’Den “Jet” Thomas led the team with 12 rushing touchdowns last season. He also had just two fewer runs of 10+ yards on 37 fewer attempts than Davis.

    Now, Thomas struggled as a pass protector, and at 5’9″ and 180 pounds, that’s understandable. He’ll need to take care of the football (two fumbles in 2023) and be a threat in the receiving game (three drops on 11 targets), but Thomas is primed for a big year.

    4) Harrison Waylee, Wyoming Cowboys

    Harrison Waylee is a consistent and experienced back for the Cowboys, letting the ball hit the dirt just three times on over 500 carries. He did deal with some injuries last season, but that didn’t stop him from continuing the linear progression he showed at Northern Illinois.

    While speed is the predominant trait of his game, Waylee has the vision to take advantage of the holes his offensive line gives him.

    3) Malik Sherrod, Fresno State Broncos

    On top of being a breakaway threat as a runner (his 25 carries of 10+ yards is tied with Waylee for second behind Jeanty among returning MWC RBs), Malik Sherrod displayed his receiving utility last year, catching 44 of 51 passes for 260 yards and a score.

    He even saw snaps in the slot and out wide, coming down with a pair of contested catches. And if that wasn’t enough, Sherrod is also a dangerous kick returner, hitting 20.7 mph on his 95-yard TD.

    2) Davon Booth and Rahsul Faison, Utah State Aggies

    I’m cheating here, but Davon Booth and Rahsul Faison are basically the same player in Utah State’s RB room. Think I’m being hyperbolic? Here are their stats from last season:

    Booth

    • 120 carries, 805 rushing yards (6.7 YPA), and 6 TDs
    • 20 carries of 10+ yards
    • 36 missed tackles forced
    • 448 yards after contact
    • 12 receptions and 50 receiving yards

    Faison

    • 118 carries, 736 rushing yards (6.2 YPA), and 5 TDs
    • 20 carries of 10+ yards
    • 37 missed tackles forced
    • 443 yards after contact
    • 11 receptions and 52 receiving yards

    But when combined into one, that’s a 238-1,541-11 rushing statline, which would easily push Jeanty for the Mountain West throne.

    1) Ashton Jeanty, Boise State Broncos

    What’s left to be said about the CFN first-team All-American? A terror in the open field, he broke a ridiculous amount of tackles last season and churned through contact. Additionally, he tied for the 34th among the fastest players in the nation, clocking in at 21.5 mph on this touchdown.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Mountain West Power Rankings

    Jeanty isn’t just the best RB in the Mountain West; he’s arguably the best RB in all of college football. If Jeanty not only reaches but surpasses his 2023 campaign numbers, he’ll be in the Heisman conversation.

    2024 Mountain West RB Rankings | 11-20

    11) Eli Sanders, New Mexico
    12) Jaylon Armstead,
    San Diego State
    13) Elijah Gilliam, Fresno State
    14) Robert Briggs Jr., Utah State
    15) Kenan Christon, San Diego State
    16) Pat Garwo III, Nevada
    17) Michael Allen, UNLV
    18) Landon Sims, Hawaii
    19) Avery Morrow, Colorado State
    20) Dawaiian McNeely, Wyoming

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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