Ralph Webb underrated? Try another label for record-chasing Commodore

Don’t go around calling Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb underrated.

“It’s not what I think, it’s what you all (media) think,” Webb said at SEC Media Days on Tuesday in Hoover, Alabama. “You know, I think I’m the best running back in the nation.”

The Commodores’ senior running back, who ranks 20th in SEC career rushing yardage, isn’t always in the conversation of the top college football rushers, but he says he belongs there.

“I think my film is as good as anybody else’s in the country,” Webb said. “I’ve been a consistent back my past three years, and I think that’s my biggest thing.”

Vandy coach Derek Mason called Webb “the back that nobody talks about, but all he does is perform. You put him on a stage, and he’s going to be big.”

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Webb’s durability has carried the Commodores’ offense throughout his three seasons in Nashville – from 912 yards as a freshman to 1,152 as a sophomore to 1,283 in 2016.

“I haven’t missed a game here for the past three years,” Webb said. “I’ve gotten better every year, increased my stats and helped this team win more games each and every season.”

His decision to return to Nashville for his senior year didn’t just mean a sigh of relief for Commodores coach Derek Mason. It also will bring him closer to several SEC legends. Webb already has rushed for 3,347 yards, and is closing in on elite territory in conference history.

Make that super-elite territory.

This season, he’s likely to overtake such college football giants as Charles Alexander, Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry and Emmitt Smith. While Herschel Walker’s conference record of 5,259 yards appears out of reach for Webb, a 1,000-yard season would lift him to fourth on the all-time SEC list, surpassing Bo Jackson.

If he matches his 2016 total, Webb would vault into second place, passing Kevin Faulk (LSU) and Darren McFadden (Arkansas).

“That would be a great thing for my family to look back on down the line, to go back and talk about, just to be mentioned with those guys,” Webb said. “It’s an honor. Those are some of the greatest running backs to ever play this game.”

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If Webb can do that, he’s entering territory that’s rare for Vanderbilt players in any SEC statistical category. Jordan Matthews, the SEC’s career leader with 3,759 receiving yards, is the only Commodore to rank in the top five in the conference career rankings in passing, rushing or receiving yardage.

Though Webb is aware of the statistical targets in front of him, he said it doesn’t detract from his main goal — bringing the Commodores a first-ever SEC East title.

“I definitely know it, but the main thing is going out there and winning,” he said. “I’m a competitor, I hate to lose and I love to win.”

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