Football Preview: Top 10 running backs for the 2018 season

Lincoln-Way East's AJ Henning is the area's top ranked running back this season.| Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Lincoln-Way East's AJ Henning is the area's top ranked running back this season.| Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

The Chicago Sun-Times preps team is busy previewing the upcoming football season. A big part of that is the annual preseason Super 25 rankings. We’re down to the final two teams, which will be revealed this week. In addition to analyzing the teams themselves, we’re ranking the top players at several key positions. One of those is running back. Here is a look at the area’s top ten running backs for the 2018 season.

It’s a good year for running backs in the area with multiple Big Ten recruits topping the list and three exciting backs to watch in the East Suburban Catholic. There is excellent overall depth in the junior and senior class.

1. AJ Henning, Lincoln-Way East, Jr. (5-10, 180)
Henning has undeniable speed and it shows on the field. As a sophomore, he was an integral part of the Griffins undefeated run the the Class 8A title. Another year of experience and unmatched speed puts Henning at the top of the list.

2. Nick Fedanzo, Montini, Sr. (6-1, 205)
Illinois recruit. Fedanzo is an athletic prospect who has great size and is quick on his feet. He’s has an extra gear when he’s in the open field. Should be a major weapon for Montini this season.

3. Ty Gavin, Notre Dame, Sr. (5-11, 175)
East Suburban Catholic Player of the Year in 2017. He rushed for 1,217 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. Gavin takes charge when he gets the ball, changes direction well and has the strength to shake defenders.

4. Luke Skokna, Hinsdale Central, Sr. (5-9, 173)
A standout in football, wrestling and track, he’s returning to the football field with high expectations. Skokna is a natural athlete that brings the physicality of a wrestler and speed of sprinter to the tailback slot

Nazareth's Devin Blakley gets the number 5 slot in the Sun-Times high school football running back top ten list. | Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Nazareth’s Devin Blakley is the No. 5 ranked running back. | Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

5. Devin Blakley, Nazareth, Sr. (5-10, 180)
Miami (Ohio) recruit. One of the main weapons for a very talented team, Blakley can spread the field out when the ball is in his hands. He has a high football IQ and is excellent at changing direction.

Bolingbrook running back Anthony Williams Jr. will be a key player this season. |Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Bolingbrook running back Anthony Williams Jr. will be a key player this season. |Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

6. Anthony Williams Jr., Bolingbook, Sr. (6-1, 220)
Michigan State recruit. A bruiser on the field, he isn’t afraid of contact. He’s reliable for short yardage gains and also has big play capacity. Williams has very good size and will be a key factor for a Bolingbrook team that has a lot of potential.

7. Leshon Williams, Richards, Jr. (5-10, 195)
One of the top returners on a Richards team that has the chance to make some real noise this fall. Williams has plenty of recruiting interest and several offers. He’s a powerful runner who has good speed, good footwork and can take control of a game when he’s in the open field.

8. Keenan Hailey, Joliet Catholic, Sr. (5-10, 190)
Hailey has a powerful stride, size, speed and sees holes well. He’ll team up with junior Kenyetta Williams to form one of the area’s most exciting running back duos.

Mount Carmel's Kyle Davis is one of the top ten running backs to watchin 2018. | Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Mount Carmel’s Kyle Davis is one of the top ten running backs to watch in 2018. | Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

9. Kyle Davis, Mount Carmel, Sr. (6-1, 210)
Western Michigan recruit. A strong downhill runner with good size, Davis is powerful and has excellent footwork to help him motor through traffic.

10. Charles Coleman, Oswego, Sr. (6-2, 230)
He’s got great size and the look and feel of a traditional back. The Panthers can count on Coleman for his consistency in short yardage situations and football IQ. He’s a bruiser and complements the offense well.

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  • Newt

    I guess the writer here went with – well he is going to a D1 school so I gotta pick em. How Cox, Walker from Warren and Etienne from Stevenson aren’t near this list is a travesty.

    • edgekiller

      Newt go to edgytim and complain about there

      • Newt

        Truth hurts I guess. But when you don’t cover FB North of I88 in most cases its not surprising.

        • Michael O'Brien

          Teams the Sun-Times covered last year that are in the suburbs north of I-88: Huntley, Prairie Ridge (twice), Maine South, Loyola (three times), Batavia, Lake Zurich, IC Prep, New Trier, Glenbard West (twice), Barrington, Palatine, Niles Notre Dame (twice).

          Here’s a question. How many publications covered games in the north, west and south suburbs and in the city last season?

          Totally open to all debates about these lists and don’t want to squelch that. But the Sun-Times goes out of its way to spread coverage around the area as much as possible. In print we had probably 12 additional games covered north of I-88 and 15-20 more teams, thanks to our partnership with the Daily Herald. I didn’t actually see those games though.

  • Robert Pryor

    Can’t name a team that’s stopped him. This year he might not get touched.

  • Robert Pryor

    Correction Ty Gavin should be #1.

  • Ralphie

    Tyquan Cox from Glenbard West isnt one of the ten best running backs? Wow. These guys must be Heisman candidates.

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