LSU has traditionally always been strong at running back. They’ve also been successful using multiple running backs in a single season. The 2003 and 2007 national championship teams had a lead back sure, but plenty of other backs got their number called. Think Shyrone Carey, Alley Broussard or Keiland Williams.
The 2020 Tigers don’t yet have a lead running back. Chris Curry is the most experienced back and got the start in the Peach Bowl for an injured Clyde Edwards-Helaire; Tyrion Davis-Price is the leading returning rusher; John Emery was the No. 2 running back in America just two years ago. There’s an opportunity to be had for an LSU running back. Could true freshman Kevontre Bradford be the one to seize it?
It’s certainly not fair to call Tre Bradford an afterthought or a consolation prize. He’s too good of a football player to be that. Bradford was the No. 13 overall running back in America and the No. 18 player in the talent rich state of Texas. But LSU certainly did look at other running backs, namely fellow Texas back Zachary Evans. Evans’ recruitment was all over. First he was linked to LSU, then it was Georgia. Then in the spring Evans visited Tennessee and Ole Miss before ultimately ending up at TCU.
Bradford, on the other hand, was being sought after primarily by two schools: LSU and Ohio State. The Buckeyes offered Bradford August 1, LSU followed with an offer on their own about two weeks later. The Buckeyes got Bradford on campus on October 4, LSU got him to Baton Rouge on January 24, 11 days after the national championship. Maybe it was the afterglow of completing a 15-0, or LSU’s reputation of putting backs into the NFL, but Bradford committed to LSU two days after taking his official visit and signed his Letter of Intent in February.
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247 Composite Ranking: ****
247 Composite Rating: .9404
Big-play running back with adequate height and frame for the position. Lean and muscular with enough space to add weight in college and play in the 210-215 range. Capable of playing running back, receiver, or safety at Power Five level, but projects best to RB. Slashing galloper who hits the hole with purpose, whether downhill or on the cutback. Dangerous in the stretch game. Impressive stop-start burst for a long-strider with somewhat longer frame. Flashes great acceleration off stops. Good top-end speed thanks to initial burst and long-striding speed-building. Flashes home run-hitting ability against strong high school competition. Athleticism not verified in combine testing environment. Upright runner who can improve pad level. Limited pass-catching opportunities to date. High-major running back prospect with big-play and high-volume capabilities. Should become a quality P5 starter with long-term NFL Draft ceiling.
Evaluation by 247’s Gabe Brooks
Future seems a little cloudy for Bradford and all the other running backs on the roster. Could Bradford blow away the coaching staff and be the leading rusher in 2020? Absolutely, Bradford could use the combined inexperience of the returning backs to his advantage and turn that into playing time. Is that likely? Probably not, I imagine the staff wants to see what they have in Curry, Davis-Price and Emery before giving Bradford a shot.
Sure the whole running back by committee thing sounds good, but can you keep four guys happy longterm? Chris Curry is a draft-eligible sophomore but I highly doubt he goes pro at season’s end; even if he does go pro, Davis-Price and Emery will be juniors in 2021 and then LSU will add Corey Kiner and you’re back to four scholarship running backs.
Bradford could absolutely be the lead back for LSU if he waits his turn. Kind of like Nick Brossette in 2018. And that’s not a knock, remember Brossette was a 1,000 yard back and third in the conference with 14 touchdowns.
High End: 1-2 year starter at running back but significant contributor in the years leading up to being the feature back
Low End: Provides quality depth but gets lost in the shuffle of excellent backs LSU has on hand
Realistic: I see a Nick Brossette-type of career arc for Tre Bradford. He may not end up as a top-10 rusher in school history, but shines when he finally gets his moment and is a potential NFL-back.