ASN'S FIRST-AND-10 | Running backs to watch in 2016

[caption id="attachment_3237" align="alignright" width="150"] ASN'S FIRST-AND-10: A first look at 10 things to know about the 2016 college football season. TODAY: Running backs to watch[/caption]

Only Fordham's Chase Edmonds rushed for as many yards in a game last season as Lamar's Kade Harrington.

Edmonds gained 347 yards against Lehigh on Oct. 25, matching Harrington's 347 yards against Abilene Christian on Oct. 11 for most rushing yards in a Division I game last season.

Edmonds didn't match Harrington yard for yard for the season, but the race is on for this season's FCS rushing title.

Harrington, ASN's first FCS Player of the Year, finished with an FCS-leading 2,092 yards  last season, becoming just the seventh player in NCAA Division I history to top 2,000 yards in 10 games. But there's no talk of 2,000 yards this season.

“I mean, we understand that this year is going to be even harder," Cardinals running backs coach Brian Morgan told ASN. “(Other teams) are going to be sitting around all off-season, going back and watching film and trying to come up with a different game plan. There’s no doubt about it. It’s what we would do if somebody like that rushed for 200 yards, 300 yards against (us). …

“We talk, realistically, (that) backing that up with a 1,000-yard year is a big deal. It’s going to be a really good year just to do that, just because of the defenses that you’re going to see.”

Edmonds, meanwhile, finished fourth in FCS with 1,648 yards and 20 touchdowns as a sophomore, and he should be even better with 10 starters back on offense.

This season should be quite a rush, and not just because of Harrington and Edmonds.



  • Joel Bouagnon, Northern Illinois: The MAC’s top returning rusher rolled up 1,285 yards and 18 touchdowns for the MAC’s West Division contenders.

  • Kareem Hunt and Terry Swanson, Toledo: The Rockets’ dynamic duo combined for 1,896 yards and 19 touchdowns (Hunt: 973, 12; Swanson: 923, 7), and Hunts has 20 100-yard games in his career.

  • Ray Lawry, Old Dominion: Conference USA’s top returning rusher with 1,136 yards last season as a sophomore also scored 11 touchdowns and is a reason why the Monarchs hope to play in their first bowl game this season.

  • Ito Smith, Southern Miss: Rushed for 1,128 yards and 10 touchdowns last season as a sophomore combines with QB Nick Mullens (4,476 yards, 38 touchdowns passing) to make the Golden Eagles C-USA’s team to beat.

  • Anthony Wales, Western Kentucky: Averaged 7 yards and scored nine touchdowns on 155 carries in the Hilltoppers’ passing offense, and he may carry a bigger load as a senior this season with a new quarterback.


  • Corey Avery, Sam Houston State: The No. 7 leading rusher in FCS last season, and No. 2 in the Southland, after transferring from Kansas finished with 1,483 yards rushing, third most in school single-season history.

  • Kendell Anderson, William & Mary: He has Tribe pointed toward a CAA Football run after rushing for 1,418 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, averaging 109.1 rushing yards per game.

  • Derrick Craine, Chattanooga: The Southern Conference's leading rusher last year also set single-season school records with 1,251 rushing yards and 230 attempts and should help carry the load as Mocs replace QB Jacob Huesman.

  • Detrez Newsome, Western Carolina: The Catamounts’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006 finished with 1,109 yards and nine touchdowns rushing as a sophomore last year, leading the SoCon with 100.8 yards per game.

Above: Record-setting Fordham running back Chase Edmonds. (Courtesy Fordham Athletics)

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