The talk around Oxford this offseason has been all about the quarterback battle. In the midst of the QB madness, star sophomore running back Quinshon Judkins has flown under the radar this offseason.
He’s poised to be one of the best RBs in college football in 2023. Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin is just as excited as the fans to see what he can do in his second year with the program.
“You’ve got to remember, he was a true freshman. It’s pretty amazing what he can do. It’s up there as one of the best freshman years in the country. It’s amazing to do and now he can take the next step, which we see,” Kiffin said. “We run different plays with him now than we did. When guys are freshmen, you’re just trying to get them to line up and play. Now you have a chance to truly have a spring where he knows stuff and can go to the next level.”
The defining moment of Judkins’ freshman season, to Kiffin, was during LSU‘s 45-20 win over the Rebels. He played over 70 snaps — very high for a running back — and even when the game was out of reach was still trying to run over defenders and earn his team extra yards.
He finished the year with 1,567 rushing yards — good for No. 7 in the country — and 16 touchdowns. Kiffin made the ultimate comparison when describing what Judkins could be capable of in 2023.
“I always think of players we’ve coached before and I feel like Reggie Bush was that ‒ he had a good freshman year and then [n his second year] you could do all this other stuff with him,” Kiffin told reporters.
Bush is regarded as one of the best running backs in college football history, helping USC win its last national championship and ultimately the 2005 Heisman Trophy, though the trophy would end up being vacated after Bush violated NCAA rules at the time. If Judkins can do the same for Ole Miss — minus the controversy — there might as well be a statue erected in his honor at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium when he leaves school to turn pro.
That’s a while away, as Judkins still has at least two seasons left in the college football ranks. Having that type of security at the running back position, in the SEC, is something not many programs in the conference are able to enjoy for a three-year stretch — given Judkins does not decide to transfer.
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