As we prepare for the 2013 football season, we’re taking a look at the best returning HBCU players at each position. Wednesday we reviewed the top running backs in the SWAC. Today, we check out the top running backs in the MEAC.
Isidore Jackson, Bethune-Cookman
While several players played key roles in Bethune-Cookman’s 2012 MEAC championship, Jackson played arguably the most important role. The 5’11, 195 pound back anchored a rushing attack that ran for just under 3,000 yards. Jackson led the conference in rushing with 1,069 yards, and also tied for second with 11 rushing touchowns, including this gorgeous 93 yard run against North Carolina Central. With more than 600 yards separating him and the next leading returning rusher in the conference, Jackson heads into the season as the back to watch.
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js *Bonus* Telvin Hooks, Tennessee State
Okay, so Tennessee State isn’t in the MEAC but we can’t forget about Telvin Hooks. Hooks had his carries limited due to playing behind 1,400 yard rusher Trabis Ward, but when he got the carries, he made the most of them. The Maitland, FL speedster averaged 5.7 yards per carry last season and should easily pass the 1,000 yard mark with Ward’s departure. Hooks will start the season against Bethune-Cookman in the John Merrit Classic before returning to Florida to face FAMU.
Brendon Riddick, Norfolk State
Andre Clarke, North Carolina Central
Clarke finished with the third most rushing attempts for NC Central last season, but he made a big impact. Clarke was particularly effective in back-to-back wins over Savannah State and SC State, rushing for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns. Clarke finished with nine touchdowns on the year, despite carrying the ball just 68 times in just nine games as he missed the last three contests due to injury. Look for his production to increase with his carries in 2013, provided he can stay healthy.
Malcolm Williams, Delaware State
Malcolm Williams kind of got lost in the shuffle of Delaware State’s prolific passing game last season. DSU lived largely by the pass, and quarterback Nick Elko and receiver Travis Tarpley received most of the attention, but Williams put together a solid year. Williams rushed for just under five yards per carry, and broke off several runs of 30-plus yards. With Elko gone and the quarterback situation still developing, look for DSU head coach Kermit Blount to turn Williams and the other running backs loose in 2013.
Aquanius Freeman, Howard
2012 was a resurgent year for Howard, and it was due in large part to the running game. Freeman’s production was inconsistent, but at time spectacular. Over half of his 448 rushing yards came in a 13 carry, 212 yard game that included a 71 yard run and two touchdowns. While he didn’t come close to putting up those totals again, he finished with a healthy rushing average of 4.8 yards per carry and 6 touchdowns. He also doubles as a kick returner.