With recent news that Louisiana Ragin Cajuns running back Elijah McGuire is one of 44 players on the Hourning Award as well as on the Maxwell Award watch list for the upcoming football season, lets take a look at McGuire.
McGuire, a native of Louisiana, came out of high school as a 3-star recruit according to both Rivals and 247 but never really got much love at running back from the Power Five programs in the area despite being ranked by Rivals as one of the top 30 players in the state of Louisiana. As a result, the Ragin' Cajuns were able to ink McGuire to come play in the Sun Belt.
The 5-11, 208 pound running back stepped on the field as a freshman for the Ragin' Cajuns and immediately showed that he was an amazing player with nine carries for 137 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first college game. Officially behind Alonzo Harris on the depth chart, McGuire forced the coaching staff to put the ball in his hands more and more often and ended his freshman campaign with 103 carries for 863 yards and 8 touchdowns with an 8.4 yards per carry average. McGuire also caught 22 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns. In addition to his impressive numbers, McGuire was named the 2013 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year as well as 1st Team All-Sun Belt.
With an amazing freshman year in the books, McGuire was still only able to split the carries nearly 50/50 with Harris in 2014. Even so McGuire's 2014 season was special with the rising junior winning Conference Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All-Sun Belt Running Back, and 1st Team All-Sun Belt All Purpose. McGuire rushed for 1,264 yards on only 166 carries with an impressive 7.6 yards per carry average and finding the end zone on every 11.9 carries in the 2014 season. What set McGuire apart is his ability to catch the football. The Ragin' Cajuns tossed the ball to McGuire in the passing game 45 times on the season for 468 yards and two touchdowns, including a 10-catch, 106 yard performance versus Boise State.
The first thing scouts notice about McGuire is the tireless effort he puts in running routes in the passing game. Many running backs on the college level run sloppy and lazy routes, looking to save some energy between carries. Not only does McGuire seem to have a seemingly endless amount of energy but he takes pride in running routes that get him into open space where he can make a big play happen on any play.
McGuire is one of those players that seems to really love the game on a deep level. So many players get pushed into the sport while young and seem burnt out on the sport before they finish college but McGuire is the type of player that runs the ball, catches the ball, returns punts and would probably even play defense if the coaching staff allowed asked him to. He is a student of the game and just an incredible player to watch.
With only 269 career carries, the 2015 season will be the first time McGuire is expected to carry the ball the majority of the time and could hypothetically carry the ball that many times alone this fall. If so, McGuire could not only get the attention of the college football world but the NFL as well and be forced to make a tough decision whether to come back for his senior year in 2016 or not. Barring injury, McGuire will end up on an NFL roster at some point.