Biography: Two-year starter awarded All-Conference honors as both a running back and return specialist since his freshman season. Ground numbers last year included 141/867/12 when he also added 22/2013/4 catching the ball. He missed four games as a junior with concussions. Sophomore totals included 194/1580/15 on the ground and 27/246 1/1 as a pass catcher.
Positives: Elusive ball-carrier who consistently displays the ability to create his own yardage. Terrific athlete who combines quickness, speed, and explosion. Patient, effectively uses his blocks and weaves his way on the inside, picking and choosing his spots. Finds the cutback lanes, quickly gets through them and has a burst of speed. Beats defenders into the open field and then runs to daylight. Loses no momentum when he must immediately change direction, and easily beats defenders around the corner. Quick-footed, sets up defenders and then makes them miss. Slides to the inside and squirts through the small openings of the defense. Terrific pass catcher who lines up on the flanks and displays the ability to get downfield to make game- changing receptions.
Negatives: Not a strong ball-carrier and easily brought down on initial contact or by the first defender. Stopped dead in his tracks by tackles. Recent rash of concussions will raise red flags.
Analysis: When healthy and at the top of his game, Best is as a gifted ball-carrier with great physical skills and running instincts. He beats defenders in a foot race or leaves them grasping at air with his elusiveness. His ability as a pass catcher is also an added value. The concussions suffered last season will make teams think twice about selecting Best early in the draft. He's a top-15 talent and will produce at the next level if he stays on the field.
John W. McDonough/SI
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