Fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter did a great job of highlighting the prospects to watch in the upcoming bowl games , but scouts tipped me off just last night of another talent that is quietly shooting up draft boards.
It just so happens that he plays tonight.
Hawaii running back Alex Green (6-1 and 230 pounds) is coming off as dominant a two-game stretch as you'll see in college football. Over the past two games (New Mexico State, UNLV), he's averaged 231.5 yards and two touchdowns.
Now, before you dismiss his numbers as a product of the Warriors' dynamic offense, recall that Hawaii's spread attack is pass-heavy, inflating the numbers of their quarterbacks and wideouts, but deflating the production of their running backs. In fact, since June Jones implemented Hawaii's spread offense in 1999, Green is the first back to ever surpass the 1,000 yard mark. Hawaii's historical struggles running the football go back even further. They haven't seen a 1,000 yard runner in nearly 20 years (1992).
Scouts are encouraged by the fact that Green, who is surprisingly agile and explosive for a back his size, is playing better as the season ends. When others were struggling down the stretch, he's getting stronger.
Some of the reason for that is he's fresh. Green has rushed for 1,168 yards this season despite getting only 10 carries a game (133 carries in 13 games). That equates to an average of 8.78 yards per rush, far and away the highest production of any qualified runner in the FBS.
The JUCO transfer only saw 86 rushes (for 453 yards, two touchdowns) in his first season at Hawaii. With "only" 219 carries during that time, he has more tread on his tires than many of the other big backs available in 2011. Consider the rushes just this season from some of the other top rated big backs like Kansas State's Daniel Thomas (276), Anthony Allen (217) and Evan Royster (188).
Tonight's showdown in the Hawaii Bowl should be the highest scoring bowl game of the year. Both offenses rank in the top ten in the country. Hawaii ranks 9th, averaging 39.9 points per game. Tulsa is just a tick behind, averaging 39.7. On an evening when many of us will be enjoying the bright lights around the tree, the offensive fireworks in Hawaii could be even more spectacular display.
Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin surely recognizes this fact. As such Green could be a focus of the Warriors' attack tonight, as McMackin reverts back to his defensive roots, (he's the former defensive coordinator of Hawaii, the Seattle Seahawks, etc.). Don't be surprised if McMackin puts the ball in Green's hands to make time of possession more of a factor than it might normally be for his team.
In doing so, Green's production and draft stock should continue its late season rise.
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