Not many running backs in the MAC Conference can match the 2016 season of James Gilbert. The Ball State product was one of the most dominant skill position players among all the MAC collegiate athletes. What does he do for an encore in 2017?
Gilbert hit the ground running as a Sophomore. The 5’8 Junior out of Indianapolis, Indiana, put up some outstanding numbers for the Cardinals in 2016. Despite the team’s 1-7 record during Conference play, Gilbert played with a purpose. He solidified his spot as the MAC’s premier running back.
Kareem Hunt (Toledo) was taken in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Yet, not even an NFL draftee could match Gilbert’s 12 touchdowns. If that wasn’t enough to convince you of the skill Gilbert possessed in 2016, take into account his 1,332 rushing yards. Those 1,332 yards were good for fourth on the Ball State single season rushing list.
Going back to the question at the beginning of this article, “What does Gilbert do for an encore?” I asked him at MAC Media Day how he can improve upon his numbers from 2016.
“Just stay motivated. Just know that was last season. There’s going to be more teams stacking the box on me. But as long as I have my offensive line, and do what the coaches tell me to do, I should have another successful season.”
It’s going to be no easy task replicating the production of 2016. Although with almost 70 percent of last year’s WR production gone, a lot of the offense will fall on the shoulders of Gilbert. When asked about the possibility of 1,500 yards for the season, he replied with following
“I think that’s possible as long as you put your mind to it.”
If 2016 was any indication, James Gilbert can do just about anything he wants on the football field. Last season, Gilbert got the attention of the MAC. Now it’s time capture the attention of the Nation. By this time next year, we could be talking about James Gilbert in the NFL.