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Do the Badgers have a top 10 RB unit in 2023?

The Badgers return top backs Braelon Allen and Chez Mellusi in 2023.

Recently, PFF released their top 10 college football running back units nationwide. 4 of those were Big Ten Schools.

Ranked 1st through 3rd were Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State respectively.

Coming in 10th was the Wisconsin Badgers.

Led by 19-year-old Braelon Allen and senior Chez Mellusi, the Badgers are preparing to become one of the best offenses in the conference behind their strong running back unit.

PFF had this to say about the Badgers running back unit:

“Braelon Allen has been a workhorse for Wisconsin ever since he stepped onto campus in 2021. Over the past two years, Allen’s 415 carries and 2,500 rushing yards lead all returning Power Five running backs. Even more impressively, he’ll only be 19 years old for the entirety of his junior season.

Chez Mellusi enters his third season as the Badgers’ No. 2 back. Since 2021, he’s rushed for 1,293 yards with 731 coming after contact.”

Although the Badgers were named a top 10 unit, many fans may believe PFF ranked this unit too low. Yet this ranking is likely due to concerns regarding depth within the running back unit.

Braelon Allen is currently projected as a top 5 running back ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft with some analysts placing him in the top 3.

Chez Mellusi is an incredible player to have as a backup running back and would likely be the starting back at the majority of Power 5 programs.

Yet there doesn’t seem to be another player in the running back room who could match both Allen and Mellusi’s production. If both Allen and Mellusi were to miss time due to injury, is there another proven running back on the roster to fill in?

At the moment there are just three scholarship backs on the roster behind Allen and Mellusi. They are Cade Yacamelli, Jackson Acker, and Nate White. All three of them can potentially blossom into the next star Wisconsin tailback, but the team clearly needs more depth in the future.

Due to this, the Badgers’ recruiting staff hit the ground running with the 2024 class to find two new running backs to help propel this unit once Allen and Mellusi leave.

They brought in 4-star Darrion Dupree, a player who could easily become the leading rusher for the Badgers in 2024, and 3-star Gideon Ituka, a physical player who will likely pair nicely alongside Dupree in the new spread offense.

With two new commitments in the 2024 class, the running back room should remain elite in the future. Yet, it will be quite the change once Allen and Mellusi head off and competition will be intense for the starting running back role in 2024.