Preview 2010 - MAC Running Back Rankings
Northern Illinois RB Chad Spann
Northern Illinois RB Chad Spann
Posted May 23, 2010

Preview 2010 - Ranking the Top 12 MAC Running Backs

Preview 2010 - MAC

Top Running Backs

- MAC Skill Position Rankings
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers | Tight Ends | Kickers   

1. Bernard Pierce, Soph. Temple
All Pierce did as a true freshman was rip apart the MAC and carry the offense to a huge season rushing for 1,361 yards and 16 touchdowns with a 212-yard, three-touchdown day against Toledo and 267 yards and two scores against Navy. However, he broke down with shoulder injury after carrying too much of the workload, and he missed the key game of the year, the regular-season finale against Ohio, and was limited against UCLA. At 6-0 and 218 pounds, the sophomore is big, runs with power and quickness, and has the potential to be used more as a receiver after catching just eight passes for 39 yards.

2. MiQuale Lewis, Sr. Ball State
The Cardinals got a huge break when Lewis was given a sixth year of eligibility, but will the coaching staff finally start using him? He tore an ACL in 2007, but that allowed him to get the extra year and he has to take advantage of the opportunity. In 2008's big season he ran for 1,736 yards and 22 touchdowns and caught 35 passes for 325 yards, but he was limited to 871 rushing yards and five scores last season, but 301 of those yards came in one game against Eastern Michigan. Only 5-6 and 201 pounds, he's small, but he's extremely quick and able to blow through the hole and he's a workhorse for his size. If he's right and he's rolling, he's on the short list for the MAC player of the year.

3. Eugene Jarvis, Sr. Kent State
Back for his sixth year with the team is Jarvis, a 5-6, 170-pound speedster who gained 1,669 yards and ten scores in 2007, 801 yards and nine touchdowns in 2008, and was primed and ready for a huge senior year before suffering a lacerated kidney and missing most of the year. An unstoppably quick speedster who can catch, be a workhorse, and can hit the home run from anywhere on the field, he's healthy again and should be a lock for 1,000 yards once he gets his groove back. He's a special talent and a true leader; he was named captain for the fourth straight time this year.

4. Chad Spann, Sr. Northern Illinois
With Meco Brown leaving the program, more of the rushing workload will fall on Spann, a 5-9, 198-pound speedster who ran for 1,038 yards and 19 touchdowns while catching ten passes for 122 yards and a score. While not all that big, it all came together for him during the middle of last year with four 100-yard rushing days in five games, but he was a consistent scorer throughout with two or more touchdowns scores in eight games. Slippery, he's tough to find around the goal line and he always seems to find the right holes. Now he has to get healthy after nursing a shoulder problem this offseason.

5. Willie Geter, Sr. Bowling Green
While the offense centered around the passing game, Geter was solid on the ground running for 705 yards and nine scores including a 114-yard, three score day against Toledo. Tremendous in the bowl loss to Idaho he ran for 96 yards and two scores averaging 6.9 yards per carry and tearing off yards in chunks. At 5-8 and 170 pounds, he's not all that big but he can fly with 10.6 100-meter-dash speed. With great hands and good experience, he could even more dangerous for the passing game after catching 37 passes for 342 yards and a score.

6. Dwayne Priest, Sr. Eastern Michigan
It's not like Priest has had a lot of room to move. A long-time starter and one of the team's few offensive weapons (at times), he led the way with 633 yards and seven touchdowns last season while catching none passes for 84 yards. The 5-8, 192-pounder is quick, but he hasn't had too much luck and hasn't been able to show what he can do behind a line that hasn't quite opened up the holes needed. He has the talent to shine if given the chance. A top recruit, he was known more for being the Virginia state high school defensive player of the year as a safety, to go along with his 20 rushing touchdowns as a senior.

7. Brandon Thermilus, Sr. Buffalo
Thrown into the starting role after James Starks went down for the year last offseason, Thermilus ran for 560 yards and four touchdowns as the team's power back. The 5-11, 224-pound son of former Miami Hurricane star Alonzo Highsmith doesn't have much in the way of speed or wiggle, but he's a powerful runner with a better nose for the goal line than he showed last year. He doesn't get tackled behind the line and is always moving forward as both a runner and a blocking fullback. While he wasn't used much as a receiver last year, he has 33 career catches for 281 yards and two scores.

8. Morgan Williams, Jr. Toledo
Williams was relegated to a No. 2 role after a strong freshman season. In 2008 he tore off 330 yards in a blowout win over Miami University and finished with a team-leading 1,010 yards and six scores, but last season he only got 74 carries running for 444 yards and two scores, averaging six yards per carry, while giving way to a healthy DaJuane Collins. Williams is a slippery 5-11, 197-pounder who can catch as well as provide surprising power with his speed, but he'll be part of a rotation and won't likely be a workhorse.

9. Thomas Merriweather, Sr. Miami Univ.
The running game was the second-worst in America last season, but if given a little help from the line, Merriweather can produce. The most talented back on the roster, he followed up a 547-yard 2008 (and it would've been more if he hadn't had a falling out with the old coaching staff) by leading the team in rushing for a second straight year. However, he only ran for 291 yards and three touchdowns with a high-yardage game of just 56 against Northwestern. At 5-10 and 214 pounds, he has decent size and is tremendously quick, but he needs to get the ball more with room to do something with it.

10. Jacquise Terry, Jr. Kent State
When Eugene Jarvis went down, the 6-0, 183-pound Terry took over and let the team with 649 yards and four touchdowns with 17 catches for 205 yards. He ran for 100 yards three times and was a workhorse with 31 carries against Ohio and 23 against Western Michigan, but he wore down and got 21 carries over the final three games. Extremely smart, he's an Academic All-American off the field, and a lightning fast speedster on it.

11. Matt Brown, Soph. Temple
At only 5-5 and 167 pounds, Brown is small, but lightning quick. He stepped in when Pierce went down and cranked out 156 yards and two touchdowns against Kent State and 172 yards and a score against Ohio on 25 carries, showing he can handle a big workload. He finished with 529 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 5.9 yards per carry, and caught five passes for 18 yards with almost all the production coming in the second half of the season. Used as a key kickoff returner over the second half of the season, he averaged 24.1 yards per try but will mostly be a part of the running back rotation and at receiver; he won't see too much time on special teams.

12. Carl Volny, Sr. Central Michigan
Volny will get the first look to take on a bigger role from the ground game. The 5-10, 198-pounder from Miami finished third on the team with 390 yards and three touchdowns, but he's the team's leading returning rusher after running for 101 yards against Alcorn State and 74 against Bowling Green. Very quick and very good in the open field, he handled more and more work as the season went on, and now he'll be able to show what he can do with an increased workload.