Academy Athletes: Raymond Maples

Raymond Maples has been a steady producer for Army. In 2013, he will be asked not just to accumulate copious amounts of yards, but the few yards that can represent the difference between victory and defeat.

Army's once-proud history has taken a hit in the last 15 years. Yet, despite their shortcomings as a team, the Black Knights have produced some highly productive backs. The latest example is back for more action this coming autumn. Raymond Maples comes into his senior season looking to put together one more strong campaign before his football playing career is likely over. Just last year Maples became one of three Army backs to rush for multiple 1,000-yard seasons in his career. That's a special feat at West Point, where the names of Blanchard, Davis and Dawkins live forever. Coming into 2013, Maples ranks sixth on the all-time Army rushing list.

Yet, for everything he's done on the gridiron, Maples's place on the Army football rushing totem pole is far from settled. Barring an injury he should certainly move to third since 1970 in rushing yards at West Point. He has a very strong chance of moving to second on that list. While it's not completely out of the equation, a monster season could see him pass Mike Mayweather for the most career rushing yards since 1970 by a Black Knights back. However, with the use of the quarterback and fullback Larry Dixon, a safe bet would be that Maples will finish second on that list at season's end.

The Philadelphia product has proven his durability the past two seasons by starting 22 of the 23 games in which he has played. It's very common in college football to forget about guys like Maples, who aren't on ESPN each week or contending for a national title in December. However, Maples has carved out a consistent, productive career for himself with Army. In a senior season where Army won't be breaking into any top 25 polls, Black Knight fans should enjoy one more season of him. He's going to be one of the keys to a very strong Army rushing attack in 2013; how great can he be? The way in which Maples answers that question could be the difference in a couple of wins for the Brave Old Army Team. Top Stories