With the 2021 high school football season in full swing, SBLive is taking a look at the best players in Mississippi, position by position.
Here’s a look at 15 Mississippi high school running backs who have been showing out on the football field this season.
(Feature photo by Keith Warren)
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SBLIVE’S TOP 15 RUNNING BACKS IN MISSISSIPPI
(The list is in alphabetical order.)
Dayan Bilbo | Senior | Vancleave
Bilbo is the definition of a workhorse for the Bulldogs — through five games, he has carried the ball a remarkable 198 times. Even more impressive, he’s averaging 6.5 yards a carry with 18 touchdowns. His top performance came in Week 1 against St. Martin, when he rushed 43 times for 405 yards and scored five times. He also went for 342 in a loss to Moss Point and 216 in a loss to Pascagoula.
Nate Blount IV | Sophomore | Brandon
Brandon’s bruising sophomore is a star in the making. He’s like a baby bull at 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, and he’s averaged 90.8 yards a game despite splitting carries out of the backfield. His top performance came on Sept. 24, when he ran the ball 28 times for 184 yards and a touchdown in a 33-16 win over Terry.
Kenyon Clay | Senior | Union
It’s odd to have a guy who technically plays quarterback on this list, but Clay isn’t like other quarterbacks. He committed to Southern Miss as a running back after rushing for 1,300 yards and 27 touchdowns as a junior last season. He is rated as a three-star prospect by 247sports.com.
Dante Dowdell | Junior | Picayune
Dowdell is an absolute muscle at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, and he’s a big reason why the Maroon Tide rank among the best teams in Class 5A. He’s rushed for 697 yards through five games, averaging 5.9 yards on 118 carries with six touchdowns. His best game came back on Sept. 4 against Jeff Davis County, when he went for 217 and three touchdowns in a 41-33 victory.
Robert Dumas Jr. | Senior | Madison Central
Madison Central has several guys who could make this list, but none have been as productive as Dumas Jr. He’s only 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds, but he finds holes as well as anyone. Though four games, he’s averaged 6.6 yards on 66 caries, amassing 437 total yards with eight touchdowns. His top performance came on Sept. 10 against Northwest Rankin, when he rushed 13 times for 154 yards and scored four times in a 38-7 win for the Jags.
Charleston French | Junior | Amory
A quick Twitter search for “Charleston French” reveals just a slew of pictures of him picking up various player of the week awards. He rushed for 223 yards on just 15 carries with three touchdowns in a 50-21 win over Mooreville, and racked up a combined 253 yards and three touchdowns in losses to Caledonia and Itawamba AHS.
Ja’karius Grant | Senior | West Lauderdale
It’s easy to see how the Knights got off to a 4-1 start when you look at the production from West Lauderdale’s bell-cow back. Grant is averaging 8.7 yards on 122 carries for a whopping 1,067 yards and nine touchdowns through five games. His top performance came on Sept. 10 in a 45-42 win over 6A Meridian, when he carried the ball 43 times for 303 yards and three scores.
David Humphries | Senior | Ocean Springs
Bray Hubbard gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so. But the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Humphries has been as consistent as anyone for Ocean Springs. He’s rushed for 533 yards in four games with five touchdowns. His biggest game so far came on Sept. 10, when he ran the ball 15 times for 181 yards and a touchdown in a 51-28 win over George County.
Dicenzo Miller Jr. | Senior | Kemper County
If you’re looking for a proven commodity, Miller is your guy. He ran for 1,456 yards as a sophomore and 1,545 as a junior last year. He’s off to a slower start in 2021, but his 73-yard, three-touchdown performance in the season opener gave him 42 career touchdowns, which is pretty impressive.
Joe Moss | Senior | Grenada
Grenada’s do-it-all back has seen his stock rise this season, and with good reason. Moss has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark with eight touchdowns in just five games. He had his biggest game on Sept. 10 at Hernando, when he ran the ball 37 times for 391 yards and three touchdowns
D’Mariun Perteet | Junior | South Panol
The athletic, 200-pound Perteet burst onto the scene last season as a sophomore, when averaged nearly 100 yards a game and helped the Tigers to a 6-3 overall record. In two games this season, he’s rushed 47 times for 176 yards and three touchdowns.
Branson Robinson | Senior | Germantown
The consensus pick as the best back in the state among college recruiters has struggled with injuries early in the season, but it hasn’t slowed down his production when he’s been available. He rushed 17 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against Vicksburg, and ran for three more scores on Sept. 3. Robinson is rated as a five-star prospect by Rivals.com and is currently committed to Georgia.
Jamari Thompson | Senior | Pearl
Jerry Johnson gets a lot of attention when you’re talking about the potent Pearl offense, but Thompson has been invaluable as well. Thompson is the bruiser in the lineup, and has rushed for 656 yards and seven touchdowns through five games for the Pirates. On Sept. 24 against Petal, Thompson served as an emergency quarterback and finished the night with 250 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 38-12 win.
Deriaun Townsend | Senior | Winona
Winona is on a tear to start the season, and Townsend has been right in the middle of it. The senior has amassed 1,073 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns through five games — all wins for the Tigers. He’s averaging 9.5 yards a carry, with his best performance coming on Sept. 24, when he ran for 304 yards on 27 carries with three touchdowns in a 35-14 win over Water Valley.
Jalen Washington | Sophomore | Houston
It’s a small sample size, but if Washington keeps up the torrid pace he has set in his first three games, he’ll just about break every record there is. The Hilltoppers’ stellar sophomore has run the ball 52 times for 677 yards with eight touchdowns, averaging 13 yards a touch. His top performance so far was 350 yards on 20 carries in a 46-24 win over Corinth on Sept. 17.