30) Christine Michael, junior RB, Texas A&M
Most teams would kill to have Michael as their starting running back. And at the start of last season, Texas A&M was psyched to have him as their starter.
And why not? Michael burst onto the scene as a true freshman, leading the Aggies in rushing yards with 844, while finding his way into the end zone 10 times. He set a Texas A&M record with a 97-yard touchdown run against Baylor. He topped the 100-yard mark twice, once against the Bears and again versus Texas Tech. He had 77 yards and a score against Georgia, and 83 yards a touchdown against Texas. He earned the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year award. And he did all that after missing the UAB game with an injury, and only starting four games.
He had an even better start to 2010, rushing for more than 100 yards in each of the first three games, and just missing that mark with a 97-yard performance against Oklahoma State in game four. In every game but for the Missouri contest, he averaged four yards per carry or better. And against the Tigers, Michael had four catches for 94 yards, a higher yardage number than what he had in all of 2009 (66 total receiving yards).
But he suffered a leg injury and missed the final five games, giving A&M's other talented back, Cyrus Gray, a chance to shine. So now Michael is in somewhat of an uncertain spot heading into 2011. On one hand, he's still one of the Big 12's top backs, and will still receive plenty of carries. But with Gray now looking like the best ball-carrier in the conference, Michael's window of potential individual dominance might have to wait until Gray graduates in 2012.
If you multiply his game averages out, Michael would have rushed for 1,025 yards last year, and while it might be a stretch to think he'll get there this season, it's important to note that like Gray was last year, Michael might be one injury away from exploding as a top-notch back in the Big 12. As it is, he might be the second-best … just behind his teammate.
2010 Stats: 126 rushes, 631 yards, four touchdowns, 13 catches, 174 yards
No. 31: Kansas OL Jeremiah Hatch
No. 32: Texas Tech OL Lonnie Edwards
No. 33: Missouri DE Jacquies Smith
No. 34: Oklahoma WR Kenny Stills
No. 35: Texas WR Mike Davis
No. 36: Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat
No. 37: Kansas State DB David Garrett
No. 38: Oklahoma OL Gabe Ikard
No. 39: Texas Tech RB Eric Stephens
No. 40: Baylor OL Philip Blake
No. 41: Missouri LB Zaviar Gooden
No. 42: Texas DL Alex Okafor
No. 43: Texas A&M DL Tony Jerod-Eddie
No. 44: Kansas RB James Sims
No. 45: Texas Tech S Cody Davis
No. 46: Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson
No. 47: Kansas State S Ty Zimmerman
No. 48: Baylor DE/LB Tevin Elliot
No. 49: Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
No. 50: Kansas DE Toben Opurum