Omarion Hampton named top 10 running back

The UNC football program run game was electric last season, and that’s due to Omarion Hampton's breakout season.

If you didn’t know Hampton’s name before last season, he made sure you knew it before the year’s end. He became one of the top running backs in the nation. Hampton will not have to wait to get credit heading into this season; ESPN released its top 10 running backs for the 2024 season.

The list features some heavy hitters, but it didn’t take long to find Hampton’s name on the list; he was fourth. ESPN released its reasoning behind Hampton’s ranking, and the departure of Drake Maye is one of the reasons.

“North Carolina went into last season wanting to place a much bigger emphasis on running the ball. Mission accomplished behind Hampton, who had a breakout sophomore season en route to becoming a Doak Walker Award finalist, and earning Walter Camp first-team All-America honors. Hampton rushed for 1,504 yards — second on the school’s single-season list — with 15 rushing touchdowns, while adding 29 receptions for 222 yards and a touchdown. Hampton had seven 100-yard games and his total rushing yards ranked fifth in the FBS.

This season, the dynamic shifts a bit. With Drake Maye gone and an open quarterback competition set to begin this spring, Hampton is the most known commodity on the North Carolina offense. Conventional wisdom says defenses will stack the box to stop Hampton and force the new starting quarterback — projected to be transfer Max Johnson or Conner Harrell — to try to beat them. — Andrea Adelson”

Hampton finished the 2023 season with 1,504 rushing yards (second most in a single season in UNC history). Hampton also had 15 rushing touchdowns, which led the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The reasoning behind Hampton’s placement couldn’t be more accurate; his experience is expected to be counted on heading into a season of unknowns. Mack Brown and company will lean on Hampton this season to keep pace, and if they do make any noise this year, it will be the junior running back leading them to the finish line.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire