2010 Heisman Hopeful Countdown: No. 5 West Virginia RB Noel Devine
As part of BCS Know How’s 2010 season preview, we will be breaking down our ten favorite Heisman hopefuls to get you ready for this season’s edition of the Heisman Watch.
Here’s our No. 5 selection, West Virginia senior running back Noel Devine.
Noel Devine is the kind of running back college football coaches dream about when recruiting time comes around.
So when Bill Stewart took over for Rich Rodriguez and had a back like Devine at the ready — and with a year of backup duty already under his belt — he must have felt blessed to be so lucky.
Yet as they enter the final year of the duo’s relationship, many believe that Devine has been criminally underused by Stewart, something that has been among the arguments against what Stewart has done with the Mountaineer program these past two years.
In 2010, however, Devine looks ready to finally overcome the doubts about his size and durability and take the next step statistically and make a strong case for this year’s Heisman.
His 2009 season looked to be his breakout year, but despite being the featured back on a strong West Virginia team, Devine did not get more than 23 attempts out of the backfield in any game, and averaged a paltry 18.5 carries per game.
He did finish with a career-best 13 touchdowns and 1,465 rushing yards but it could have been more for a back that averaged 6.1 yards per game for the season.
A strong year from Devine could bring the Florida-area speedster the all-time Mountaineer rushing record, but he’ll have to pass West Virginia greats Pat White, Amos Zereoue, Steve Slaton and current leader Avon Cobourne.
Bottom Line: It’s going to be all about how many times Devine can touch the ball in 2010.
Devine averages 6.5 yards per carry, and in his freshman year, averaged an amazing 8.6 ypg. When he touches the ball, its usually a big gain. It would then follow that the more he touches the ball, the more he can produces, right?
That’s the bet the Mountaineers will have to rely on, since their outlook rests pretty squarely on whether Devine can produce on a Heisman-worthy level.
He’ll be running behind an experienced line, which could be key in increasing his touchdown production. A repeat 13 scores last season will not be good enough for the award.
Devine looks ready to take the next step, but it will need to be a gigantic leap to other-worldly numbers if he even wants to think about being the first Mountaineer to receive the honor.
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