2010's New Stars - No. Texas RB Lance Dunbar

Posted Mar 30, 2010

Who are the top players you need to know about going into 2010? Richard Cirminiello profiles North Texas RB Lance Dunbar.

Spring Preview 2010

The Players You Need To Know

Lance Dunbar, RB North Texas

By Richard Cirminiello 

12 New Superstars You Must Know About
- Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
- Connecticut RB Jordan Todman
- Iowa S Tyler Sash
- Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas
- Houston WR James Cleveland
- Navy QB Ricky Dobbs
- Temple RB Bernard Pierce
- TCU LB Tank Carder
- California RB Shane Vereen
- Kentucky WR Randall Cobb 
- Nevada DE Dontay Moch 

Who is Lance Dunbar? … Dunbar has never been one to follow someone else's script during his athletic career. He could have gone to the Big 12, but chose instead to play for North Texas. He was a candidate to redshirt in 2008, but made it on to the field anyway. And although he arrived in Denton as a scatback, he quickly blossomed into a 200-pound feature back. So when starter Cam Montgomery went down with a hamstring injury, no one should have been surprised when the untested sophomore rose to the occasion and performed like a perennial all-star.

Dunbar got the call from head coach Todd Dodge toward the end of September and never looked back. Over the Mean Green's final nine games, he was held under 100 yards just once, finishing with 1,378 yards rushing on only 200 carries, 28 receptions, and 19 touchdowns. North Texas knew it had a player when it signed No. 5, but it had no idea he'd emerge into a star so early in his career. The change-of-pace had suddenly become a workhorse, proving he could handle 30 touches a game without wearing down. For the folks in Denton, No. 5 represents hope for a program that hasn't had a winning season in five years. For Dunbar, well, he still has two years left to help the Mean Green get out of a ditch and author his own happy ending to his college career.

Lance Dunbar's best game so far was … this past Oct. 17 versus Florida Atlantic. It came in a losing cause, as was often the case in Denton, but Dunbar absolutely gashed the Owl defense for 238 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. He was over 100 yards by the midway point of the first quarter, and might have had an even bigger night had the Mean Green not fallen so far behind in the second quarter. It was the best rushing performance by a North Texas player in five years.

Why should you care about Lance Dunbar? … He's one of the best small-school backs in the country that you've never seen in action. And he's only scratched the surface of his potential. Forced into action when injuries struck the Mean Green backfield, he exploded as the starter, running for more than 100 yards in eight of his final nine games and finishing behind just Florida Atlantic's Alfred Morris in the Sun Belt hierarchy. With two years of eligibility left, Dunbar is going to hang up some monster numbers before he's through.

Positives about Lance Dunbar … He's a versatile runner, who can gobble up yards between the tackles, get outside the tackles in a snap, catch the ball out of the backfield, and pick up the blitz to protect the quarterback. Although 17 pounds bigger than when he arrived from high school, he still possesses the giddy-up of a former track star. Best of all, Dunbar runs with tremendous vision, finding a hole before it closes and darting past the first line of defense. No liability in the classroom, he's well on his way to becoming a complete student-athlete.

Negatives about Lance Dunbar … Despite all of the success in 2009, durability and experience are still two concerns heading into this fall. Dunbar has only been a starter for less than a season, meaning he has to prove he's no one-hit wonder in the Sun Belt Conference. At 5-9 and 200 pounds, he's a little shy of ideal size for a feature back, which could become evident if asked to carry the ball 300 times this season.

A cool thing about Lance Dunbar you probably didn't know … When Dunbar chose North Texas over much larger programs, such as Oklahoma State, Colorado, and Virginia, he reunited with former Haltom (Tex.) High School head coach Clayton George. The familiarity with George, now the Mean Green wide receivers coach, and his offensive philosophy were two keys reasons why he wound up in Denton instead of the Big 12.

Career Statistics 2008: 39 carries for 178 yards and one touchdown; 12 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown
2009: 200 carries for 1,378 yards and 17 touchdowns;28 catches for 300 yards and two touchdowns