Six small running backs who come up huge

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by Ralph D. Russo
AP College Football Writer

(AP)—There’s always been a place in college football for the undersized back, but it seems as if there are more great little guys than ever before. Here are six (in no particular order) who will star in 2010. And since small is subjective, we’ll make the cutoff 5-10 and 200 pounds.

Dion Lewis, 5-8, 197, Pittsburgh. As coach Dave Wannstedt puts it, Lewis does not run like a small back. Unlike some others on this list, he doesn’t play in a spread which allows him to operate in space. He runs between the tackles and went for 1,799 yards and 17 TDs as a freshman last season.

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PITT ALL-AMERICAN—Running back Dion Lewis scoots away from a defender during practice. Lewis will need to do the bulk of the work for the Pitt offense in the opener against Utah.

Noel Devine, 5-8, 180, West Virginia. Elusive with a burst of speed that makes him just about the most exciting runner in the country. He ran for 1,465 yards and 6.1 per carry last season.

Jacquizz Rodgers, 5-7, 188, Oregon State. Adept at hiding behind blockers, it’s almost impossible for tacklers to get a clean shot on Quizz. He ran for 1,440 yards and 21 TDs last season.

Kendall Hunter, 5-8, 197, Oklahoma State. Injuries held Hunter back last season, but the year before he was as good as any back in the Big 12, running for 1,555 yards and 15 scores.

LaMichael James, 5-9, 180, Oregon. His fabulous freshman season included 1,546 yards rushing, 14 touchdowns and 6.7 yards per carry. He definitely benefits from the spread, but he’s a killer in the open field.

Jordan Todman, 5-9, 190, Connecticut. Notre Dame fans will remember the Fighting Irish futilely chasing Todman around South Bend. He ran for 1,118 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.

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