2024 Sun Belt RB Rankings: Ismail Mahdi, Jalen White Lead the Pack

    With leading rushers Kimani Vidal and Marcus Carroll leaving the conference, which playmakers head up our 2024 Sun Belt RB Rankings?

    Four of the top six rushers in the Sun Belt last season entered the 2024 NFL Draft — Troy’s Kimani Vidal, Marshall’s Rasheen Ali, Southern Miss’ Frank Gore Jr., and South Alabama’s La’Damien Webb.

    The second-leading rusher in the conference, Georgia State RB Marcus Carroll, transferred to Mizzou, one of two Sun Belt backs to join the Tigers, along with Appalachian State RB Nate Noel. That leaves a lot of carries available for the conference’s returning backs and even some for the new ones. Let’s look at how they stack up in our preseason 2024 Sun Belt RB Rankings.

    Sun Belt 2024 RB Rankings

    10) Zak Wallace, Arkansas State Red Wolves

    Spoiler alert: the Arkansas State Red Wolves have two of the top 10 rushers in our 2024 Sun Belt RB Rankings.

    The first of those, Zak Wallace, finished second on the team in rushing (575) behind Ja’Quez Cross. The combo of Cross, Wallace, and true sophomore dual-threat QB Jaylon Raynor should make for a potent rush attack in Jonesboro this season.

    9) Rodriques Clark, Southern Miss Golden Eagles

    Frank Gore Jr. declaring for the NFL Draft leaves some big shoes to fill in the Southern Miss Golden Eagles backfield.

    Senior running back Rodriques Clark was solid in relief of Gore, gaining 429 rushing and scoring twice while averaging 5.6 yards per carry on 75 attempts last fall. His workload should see a significant boost this season.

    8) Braydon Bennett, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

    Braydon Bennett was an All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention as a freshman in 2021, but he missed most of 2022 with an injury. He returned last season to lead the Chanticleers in rushing with 407 yards and five touchdowns.

    With CJ Beasley transferring to Georgia State, Bennett should see more touches this season.

    7) Dre’lyn Washington, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

    Dre’lyn Washington has been waiting in the wings for his chance as the primary back, and that time has come with Jacob Kibodi declaring for the NFL Draft.

    Washington finished second on the Ragin’ Cajuns in rushing with 515 yards and two scores in 2023. He’s expected to see an increase in carries — and profile — this coming season.

    6) Keshawn Wicks, Old Dominion Monarchs

    Keshawn Wicks started nine games for Old Dominion last fall, splitting time in the backfield with Kadarius Calloway.

    Now that Calloway has left for Cal, Wicks is set up to be the Monarch’s primary back. He finished second on the team last season with 589 yards rushing and four touchdowns.

    5) Kanye Roberts, Appalachian State Mountaineers

    All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention as the Mountaineer’s second-leading rusher (696), Kanye Roberts only started four games last year, but he’s destined for greatness in 2024.

    MORE: 2024 Sun Belt WR Rankings

    App State’s leading rusher, Nate Noel, transferred to Mizzou, leaving opportunities abound for Roberts. He finished third in the Sun Belt in yards per carry (5.7) with seven touchdowns.

    4) Ja’Quez Cross, Arkansas State Red Wolves

    The Red Wolves’ leading rusher last season with 716 yards and seven scores, Ja’Quez Cross tied for fourth in the conference with 5.6 yards per carry.

    He was named to the All-Sun Belt Third Team as a specialist after averaging 28.3 yards on 23 kick returns, including a 93-yard score on a kickoff.

    3) Ayo Adeyi, Marshall Thundering Herd

    Marshall is losing one of the best backs in the conference, with Rasheen Ali headed to the 2024 NFL Draft.

    However, the Thundering Herd found their next No. 1 back in the transfer portal, with Ayo Adeyi leaving UNT for Huntington. Adeyi gained 2,320 yards rushing with 16 touchdowns in three seasons at UNT, gaining 1,017 last season.

    2) Jalen White, Georgia Southern Eagles

    Georgia Southern’s leading rusher the last two seasons, Jalen White announced he would be back for a fifth year with the Eagles, securing his place near the top of 2024 Sun Belt RB Rankings in the process.

    He’s rushed for 2,272 yards and 23 touchdowns in his career, but hasn’t eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season despite getting close twice with 914 in 2022 and 889 last year. With QB Brin Davis graduating, he might get there this year if the Eagles run more.

    1) Ismail Mahdi, Texas State Bobcats

    The only 1,000-yard rusher from the Sun Belt returning for the coming season, Ismail Mahdi led the nation with 2,169 all-purpose yards last season, ensuring he sits atop our 2024 Sun Belt RB Rankings.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Sun Belt QB Rankings 

    He was the third-leading rusher in the Sun Belt with 1,331 rushing yards and scored 12 total touchdowns — 10 rushing, one receiving, and one kickoff return. The Bobcat’s do-it-all back is the only top-five Sun Belt rusher from last season who is returning in 2024.

    2024 Sun Belt RB Rankings | 11-20

    11) Domonique Thomas, Georgia State
    12) Ethan Payne, Marshall
    13) CJ Beasley, Georgia State
    14) Taven Curry, ULM
    15) Lincoln Pare, Texas State
    16) Chris Washington, Coastal Carolina
    17) Torrance Burgess, Texas State
    18) Gerald Green, Troy
    19) Bryce Duke, ODU
    20) Aaron Young, ODU

    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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