Toledo was one of the premiere rushing offenses in the nation last year, ranking 27th in all of College Football by the end of the year. Their strong running game was one of the main reasons for why they were ranked in the top twenty-five for most of the year. The running game was mostly handled by the Toledo senior running back Kareem Hunt, who had 973 total rushing yards and twelve touchdowns. Prior to the 2015 season, Hunt rushed for 1,631 total yards and 16 touchdowns. Hunt is a huge part of the success of the Toledo offense, but this will be his final year playing for the Rockets.
As a result, the Toledo coaching staff will need a future running back who can match or beat Hunt’s numbers. So, how do you get that type of guy? Well, you attack the 2017 recruiting cycle and find a guy who can come in, similar to what Hunt did, and contribute right away. Below, are some Toledo running back targets who are being pursued.
Michael Warren, 5’11” 210lbs. Toledo, Ohio (Central Catholic)
Warren is Toledo’s top running back target in the 2017 recruiting class and the best option to replace Hunt. If you look at the physical attributes, Warren is very similar to Hunt, both are around the 5-foot-11 mark and are above 210-pounds. At Central Catholic, he is a physical runner and punishes defenders who try and tackle him. However, he also has the ability to shift gears and make big plays with his feet, just like Hunt has done for Toledo numerous times.
In terms of his recruitment, Warren decommitted from Kentucky a few weeks ago and has been hearing from a lot of schools like Iowa, Iowa State, and Rutgers. Since his decommitment, he has visited Toledo for a football camp and Michigan for a football camp. However, it does appear that Toledo might have the slight lead within his recruitment. With Warren expected to release his top schools sometime soon this summer, the Rockets look to be in very good position.
Morgan Ellison, 6’1” 210lbs. Pickerington, OH (Pickerington Central)
Ellison is another prospect whose attributes on the football field are very similar to Hunt. He is a big running back, who can break tackles left and right, but has the speed to make plays. He is a prospect who is not very well known because he has been hurt the last two seasons and hasn’t played a single high school football game for a few years.
Like I mentioned above, Ellison hasn’t been able to play much high school ball due to injuries. However, he has started to make some noise during the offseason. At the Columbus Opening regional camp, he received running back MVP and had the highest SPARQ rating of all the camp members. He only holds four offers from Toledo, Miami of Ohio, Youngstown State, and most recently Ohio. However, if he stays healthy I expect that to change. In terms of his recruitment, Toledo is within his top two, but the other school is unknown. Kentucky and Pittsburgh are close to offering, if they do his recruitment will probably shake up a little bit.
Now, Toledo has options behind Kareem Hunt, they actually have a very good option behind Hunt in Terry Swanson. He had 923 total yards and seven touchdowns last season, but he isn’t as physical as Hunt is. However, the Rockets have guys like Art Thompkins and Nevonne McCrimmon that should contribute early on. Both of those guys were 1,000 yard rushers at their high schools.
In the 2017 recruiting class, they have the ability to bring in some guys that could potentially help and maybe replace what Kareem Hunt has brought to Toledo with his physical running style. The Rockets will look to continue to build their stable of running backs.