Scout's Chris Steuber had NU's top running back, Tyrell Sutton, listed among his preseason Top 20 backs in college football. The full list is linked here, Tyrell is ranked 14th by Steuber.
By now we all know that Sutton was selected to the Watch List by the Walter Camp Football Foundation - the selection puts Tyrell among the top 35 players in college football, and by our count one of the top 12 on that list.
What we at Purple Reign find interesting is that Sutton is one of only three top backs from the Big 10 - Mike Hart of Michigan [6th] and Albert Young of Iowa [#13] are the other two. Both are Seniors.
The primary case for Sutton is this: 2,474 rushing yards in two season - including a fairly slow start in 2006. He also has 3,139 career all purpose yards, 9 100 yard games and 25 TDs. He's presently 6th on NU's career rushing and TD lists - he's also the Big 10's second leading active rusher. [Stats from NUSports.com].
Sutton's presence on the field is also very important to the passing game. Defenses stack the box to try to stop him, opening up one on one coverage on the Cats' receivers. When the NU spread is running right, Sutton [or another back] gets that ball about half the time.
But what makes Sutton so important as a player is his newly found position as team leader. This year he's been out front talking to the media, and has been reported to be pretty fiery on the practice field. Add C.J. Bacher's quiet confidence and the Cats have the makings of a team ready to make another run at the Big 10
The Cats don't need a 100 yard performance from Tyrell Sutton every game - he only had three in 2006 - but it helps when he's ripping off close to 6 yards per carry and touching the ball more than 20 times a game. The Cats' record was 2-1 when he topped the century mark.
Opposing defenses will put up a lot of tacklers aiming to slow Sutton down in 2007 and the Cats are rebuilding their offensive line, but barring injuries, expect Tyrell Sutton to be back on the top of the rushing list, maybe a lot higher than just 12 or 13.
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