Sports in Kansas 25 Running Backs To Watch List for 2021 –
25 to Watch for 2021 – Sports in Kansas (List is not ranked or in order) photo: Gene Morris
Sam Elliott, Buhler, Sr.
Elliott was a first team non-senior pick last season for the Crusaders. He is also a two-time state wrestling champion. He is one of the states best multiple sport athletes and one of the best running backs in all of Kansas.
Jacob Parrish, Olathe North, Sr., Aquantez Love, Olathe North, Sr.
Olathe North has a loaded backfield back with Palmer, Parrish and Love. Parrish had a huge junior year on the way to a first team SIK Non-Senior selection. He will be one of the best players in the Sunflower League once again for 2021. Love returns after rushing for 892 yards last season on the way to over six yards per carry.
Jovanni Blackie, Paola, Sr.
Blackie opened the eyes of many in the Frontier League and 4A football one season ago. Expect him to be one of the best in Kansas after earning SIK Non-Senior honors last season as a junior.
Zack Sisemore, Basehor Linwood, Sr.
Sisemore has great size at 6’0” and 190 pounds for the Bobcats. He rushed for over 1,600 yards last season on his way to a first team Sports in Kansas Non-Senior pick. Expect a big season for BL with several key pieces back.
Dylan Edwards, Derby, Jr.
Edwards may be primed for the biggest year in Kansas with the return of the incredible offensive line of Derby. Pair it with one of the most exciting players in Kansas that is one of the fastest players in Kansas and you have a dangerous combination. Expect a monster junior year for the FBS prospect. Edwards rushed for 1,833 yards as a sophomore last fall.
Gabe Martin, Columbus, Sr.
Martin is pound for pound one of the strongest players in Kansas with a 340 bench, 550 squat and 290 clean. He also has shown some athletic ability with his 33” vertical and 4.5-4.6 HH 40. He doubles as a standout linebacker. Expect a huge senior season after rushine for 1,244 yards and 17 touchdowns last year.
Jaytin Gumm, McPherson, Jr.
Gumm enjoyed a breakout sophomore season in which he earned second team Sports in Kansas Non-Senior honors. McPherson has played in the semifinals each of the last four football seasons and are still looking for that first ever state title game appearance.
Anthony Favrow, Olathe West, Sr.
Favrow is one of the most underrated players in the state out of the Sunflower League for Olathe West. He has rushed for over 1,000 in each of his last two seasons along with 2,519 career rushing yards in 21 games. He averaged 7.3 yards per carry last season.
Caiden Barber, Pittsburg, Sr.
Barber is pound-for-pound one of strongest players in the state. He was a second team All-Non senior pick at Sports in Kansas last season. If healthy this fall, expect a monster year for Barber, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season as a junior.
Reed Adelhardt, Garden Plain, Sr.
Adelhart rushed for over 1,000 yards last season in his first season in an Owl uniform after coming over from Kapaun when his dad became the head coach of Garden Plain. GP always has it going in the fall and it will be no different for 2021.
Brayden Beerbower, Eudora, Sr.
Beerbrower rushed for over 1,205 yards last season as a junior for the Cardinals. Eudora should have a very solid year behind several FBS prospects that lead the way. Expect them to be a team on the rise in the Frontier League.
John Randle Jr., Wichita Heights, Jr.
Randle is one of the most heavily recruited players in the state with double digit FBS offers entering his junior season. He comes from one of the most talented families in Kansas HS football history. His father played at KU and SIU while his uncle played for Oklahoma State and the Dallas Cowboys. Randle is also one of the best return men in Kansas. Expect a big-time season for the Heights junior. Teammate Lafayette Washington is also a player that could emerge into a player to watch this season for Heights and is on the others to watch list below. He posted a 11.17 FAT 100 meter time at last years 6A regional in track and field.
Benson Berndt, Beloit, Jr.
Berndt had a breakout sophomore season for the Trojans on the way to the 2A semifinals by rushing for over 1,200 yards. Expect another big year with several key pieces back for Beloit in 2021.
Jake Sasse, Smith Center, Jr.
Sasse, who has started since his freshman year on defense, will look to be one of the best fullbacks in 1A football this season after rushing for over 800 yards as a sophomore last fall. With key pieces back on the offensive line expect a big season for Sasse and the Redmen.
Grant Stubblefield, Blue Valley Northwest, Jr., Michael Solomon, Blue Valley, Sr.
In just seven games last year, Stubblfield had a big-time season with 564 yards and six touchdowns. He returns alongside all-state QB candidate and FBS prospect Mikey Pauley. Solomon returns after earning first team All-Blue Valley as a junior last year for a team that returns a loaded offensive line and solid QB play with Greyson Holbert back.
Mario Menghini, Frontenac, Jr.
Maybe the most unknown on here to many is Menghini but that won’t be the case once the 2021 football season begins. Menghini was a first team All-CNC selection as a sophomore and has great size at 6’2” 185-pounds. We expect him to be one of the top junior running backs in the small classes of Kansas this year. Menghini has 4.6 range speed and the Raiders have a loaded class of seniors coming back.
Jaylen Burch, Bishop Miege, Sr.
Burch is a returning starter for an always explosive Miege offense. Gone are the majority of last years offensive line with one starter but we expect Burch to have a standout year in the backfield.
L.J. Phillips, Wichita Northwest, Jr.
Phillips rushed for over 600 yards as a sophomore for state power Wichita Northwest in 2020. He averaged nearly eight yards per carry. Northwest is no stranger to producing big-time offensive numbers and we expect Phillips to have some big numbers in 2021 as he returns along with QB/ATH Geremiah Moore who really could also be listed as a RB but was already on our 25 QBs to Watch list. Julius Bolden graduated after two all-state seasons. Before that it was Heisman candidate Breece Hall. Northwest produces.
Tyler Butash, Gardner Edgerton – Sr.
Butash was a second team all-league running back last year as a junior and also earned 6A all-state honorable mention. Expect him to be one of the top backs in 6A this season. He rushed for 704 yards with six touchdowns last season. He also shows the ability to catch the pass out of the backfield as a receiver.
Kenyon Forest, Newton, Sr., Evan Cantu, Maize South, Sr., Brandt Cox, Salina South, Sr.
The AVCTL-I league was loaded at RB last year but some key departures open it up for others. Of course Dylan Edwards is highlighted above but many do return that earned second team honors last season. Forest is a powerful back that benches and cleans over 300 pounds with his 5’9” 195-pound frame. He is also a state champion in the javelin in 5A. Expect a big year for Forest out of the backfield for Newton. Cantu earned second team all-league in a loaded league last year that featured Dylan Edwards, Josh Sanders and Alec McCuan. We expect Cantu to have a big season for Maize South in 2021. Cox earned second team all-league last season for the Cougars and the team should be much improved in 2021.
Kendyn Blank, Inman, Sr.
Blank is primed for a big senior year after accumulating over 1,100 yards of offense as a running back last fall along with 14 touchdowns. He has great speed and will be one of the top 1A playmakers in Kansas for 2021. He also has the ability to be a receiver out of the backfield. With Doerksen and Blank back Inman should once again be a factor in 2021.
Jace Thomas, Scott City, Jr.
Scott City loses some key pieces including Isaac Tarango and Gabe Bowers offensively but back is Jace Thomas who was the lone sophomore on the first team All-GWAC offense one season ago. Expect him to be one of the top 3A running backs in Western Kansas for 2021.
Isaac Mendez – Wheatland Grinnell Sr., Colby Stull – La Crosse Sr., Jesus Casas – Skyline Sr., Mason Schurr – Osborne, Scott Price – Bucklin, Kolten Bennett – Spearville, Tayden Tindle – West Elk, Korben Clawson – Meade, Logan McCarty – Cheylin
8-Man always has talent out of the backfield. Mendez rushed for over 1,600 yards in the best season in school history for W-G. He returns along with the Vincent brother’s but they do graduate Trevor Zarybnicky who was the SIK 8M-II DPOY. Stull rushed for over 1,000 yards last season as well as Casas of Syline. Mason Schurr is expected to have a big season for Osborne who always has it going in 8-man football. Scott Price is a multiple sport standout that rushed for over 900 yards last season. Kolten Bennett had nearly 1,000 yards for Spearville and Tayden Tindle was also over 1,000 last year. Korben Clawson is looking for a big year for Meade after earning all-league first team last season in the SPIAA> Although Logan McCarty, the only 6-man player on the list, is going to be listed at QB he might as well be listed at RB as well with what type of numbers he could put up in 2021.
Jaren Kanak – Hays Sr., Casen Stallbaumer – Seaman, Sr., Gannon Remer – Silver Lake, Sr.
Kanak is the most heavily recruited player in Kansas and there is a lot you can do with him. He is a top notch wide receiver as well as can play multiple positions defensively. He can also play running back. He has elite speed as a 6’2” 210-pound athlete. Stallbaumer doubles as a receiver and a defensive back. He should be one of the best in Topeka this season after earning SIK non-senior honors. Hays has several pieces out of their backfield they can do a lot with Dylan Dreiling (QB/ATH) as well as Jordan Dale (ATH/QB) who made the QB list earlier last week. Remer has close to 900 career rushing yards as a running back but he also gets it done as a receiver with over 437 yards receiving last season. With Daigan Kruger back at QB expect Remer to compliment him nicely out of the backfield or at receiver. Remer has over 1,500 yards of offense the last two seasons.
Question marks for 2021?
Devin Neal is gone from Lawrence but Josh King is expected to be an impact player on the roster this year for the Chesty Lions after being behind two running backs last season that graduate. 5A was loaded at RB last year but hit heavy by graduation w/ Josh Sanders graduates from Maize after a huge year in 5A, Julius Bolden for Wichita Northwest, Hunter Trail for Bishop Carroll, Alec McCuan from Hutchinson, Tank Young from Qauinas and Quin Wittenauer from Mill Valley. 4A had a loaded class of RB as well last season with Tyler Bowden and La James White both graduating from Tonganoxie and St. James Academy. Jovannie Blackie (Paola) listed above is the lone returning all-state back in the class. The 3A class graduated Canon Karn and Konnor Tanahill of state power Holton, Nic Allen of Riley County, Lakin Farmer of Halstead, Thad Metcalfe of Perry Lecompton (QB/RB), Eli Rowland of Andale, Desmond Purnell of Hayden who headlined the group one year ago. You know there will be good running back play out of the Big 7 with the likes of Holton, Perry Lecompton, Nemaha Central and Sabetha. The 2A class had some new players emerge from a year ago as senior as all-state picks with Holt Hanzlick of Hoisington, Woodrow Rezac of Rossville and Andrew Schwinn of Maur Hill, but all have graduated. The most exciting player in the class is a quarterback in dual threat senior Torrey Horak who was the SIK 2A POY last season as a junior for the state champion Rossville Dawgs. You will see several new names emerge at RB in 2021 for 2A. 1A was loaded at running back last season but most of the all-state guys are gone in Luke Detweiler of Lyndon, Jonathan Wright of Conway Springs and Ethan Abell of Oakley. We expect Olpe, Smith Center, Centralia, and Inman to have good production in their running game for 2021. 8-man lost a lot of key stars in QBs/RBs/ATHs last season so several new names will emerge in 2021. Gone is Jayden Garrison (Little River), Graham Stephens (Little River), Kayde Rietzke (Wichita County), Aiden Rudolph (Clifton-Clyde), Hunter Engle (Madison), Shadryon Blanka (St. Francis), Jacob Jueneman (Hanover), Jayvon Pruitt (Victoria), Deven McEwen (Lebo), Colin Jueneman (Hanover). You know there will be a star emerge from Hanover with the dynasty they have created. The 6-man game lost Colton McCarty of Cheylin the state player of the year in the class the last two seasons.
Other top RBs to Watch from Sports in Kansas for 2021:
Patrick Smith – Marysville, Lafayette Washington – Wichita Heights, Tai Hildebrand – Stafford, Noal Reynolds – Peabody Burns, Easton Zapien – Liberal, Chance Kerr – Dodge City, Aiden Boeckman – Wabaunsee, Mason Gottschalk – Ellis, Keaton Reeves – Pike Valley, Dalton Hilyard – Douglass, Ashton Barkdull – Andover Central, Memo Flores – SW Heights, Michael Soloman – Blue Valley, Cade Gourley – Hoxie, Cayde Welsh – Triplains, Josh Uhland – Logan/Palco, Corey Catron – Rossville, Kolby Johnson – Holcomb, Adrian Patterson – Wichita Heights, Reichen Rush – Perry Lecompton, Karsten McKee – Pleasanton, Jake Hutchinson – Oswego, Kyle Werner – Plainville, Trey Sommer – Humboldt, Treden Buckman – Uniontown, Holden Barker – Crest, Nash Money – Wellsville, Sean Carroll – Aquinas, Connor Schurr – Osborne, James Kreigh – Trego, Wyatt Bahm – Ark City, Eli Lang – Minneola, Brayden Berens – Skyline, , Jomarion Nelson – Wichita East, Quentin Sanders – Wichita West, Sage Huffman – BV West, Quincy Thomas – Cheney, Jace Thomas – Scott City, Bodi Eisenhower – Prairie View, Jackson Coombs – Chanute, Ty Leedy – Chanute, Jordan Johnson – Fort Scott, Trent Jones – Iola, Derek Larison – Riverton, Kendyn Blank – Inman, Derek Hoelting – Olpe, Korben Clawson – Meade, Ethan Armstrong – Frankfort, Shayden Shull – Hartford, Kyle Reese – Lebo, Eli Reigle – Chapman, Jacob Kirchoff – Smith Center, Easton Idelman – Herington, Roy Moroni – Hays, Jesse Whitmer – Russell, Derek Hubbard – Derby, Malik O’Atis – SM Northwest, Josh King – Lawrence, Trenton L’Ecuyer – Valley Heights, Micah Moore – Salina Central, Dylan Reese – Goddard, Carson Phelps – Collegiate, Lucus Bullock – BV North, Javion Lee – Topeka West, Makentis Adams – Washburn Rural, Tylan Alegos – Topeka, Cole Lamatsch – Central Plains, Jaxson Haraughty – Columbus, Draven Pipkin – Spring Hill, Jayce Smith – Bonner Springs, Keyan Miller – Concordia, Tyler Schultze – De Soto, Jarin Sanders – Shawnee Heights, Roberto Loya – Golden Plains, Ryan Eilert – Hesston
Several return after having big seasons in 2020. Check out who to watch in 2021 from the most complete list in Kansas by the most trusted source in sports information in Kansas. This lists main purpose is to represent the entire state from every class. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we will do this position by position. Chet Kuplen, CEO/Founder of Sports in Kansas, evaluates players every year based on performance from prior year, our all-state lists from last year and events (camps/combines) he sees players across the state with input from several coaches and media members. This is not a recruiting list or prospect list and players are not ranked or in any special order. This list is powered by Seatbelts Are For Everyone, Nex-Tech Wireless, American Implement and Mammoth Sports Construction. Be on the lookout for our postseason honors after the 2021 season on who will be the Top 100 seniors in Kansas and who will make the Sports in Kansas All Non-Senior Team, Player of the Year honors etc. While its impossible for us to check out every player in the state, we have a pretty good track record at going into detail like no other outlet in the state and don’t rank players just to sell a subscription to an online service that cost, WE ARE FREE and a trusted source. If you ever have a player that you think we should take a look at be sure to DM @sportsinkansas or [email protected] as tips coming in can always help out on who we should check out! If you are interested in a premium player evaluation contact Chet Kuplen by TEXT at 620-719-0283 or email [email protected] Several player evaluations landed major offers over the last ten football seasons.