Published March 5, 2012 - 11:21am
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SDS is continually counting down the top 25 players in the SEC for 2012, and we’re not stopping until we get to No. 1.
Onterio McCalebb – No. 22
Onterio McCalebb checks in at No. 22 for 2012. McCalebb used to be the lightning in the “thunder and lightning” combination for the Tigers’ backfield alongside Michael Dyer. But with Dyer transferring to another program, McCalebb’s role will get that much bigger next season.
Simply put, Dyer was responsible for 54 percent of the running game and 50 percent of the rushing touchdowns in 2011. I think McCalebb is going to step in rather nicely to help pick up the slack. I think he has the ability to be a top player, and he will certainly get enough touches in 2012 to make him a top 25 player in the SEC.
What McCalebb lacks in size, he makes up for in his ability to get to the edge and take it to another level by blowing by defenders. He’s criticized for being too small to run between the tackles. I get that; I hear you. After all, he is only 175lbs soaking wet. But he has the speed to be an elite playmaker for the Tigers, along with good vision and talent running the football.
I think Auburn will run basically a lot of the same offense next year in the spread with quarterback Kiehl Frazier; therefore, I think McCalebb is that much more dangerous in the spread as opposed to the pro-style power running game because he’s more of a perimeter player.
In 2011, McCalebb had 112 carries for 641 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged right around 5.7 yards per carry. Last year, this offense digressed with no identity at quarterback. In 2010, playing with Cam Newton, McCalebb had 810 yards rushing on only 95 carries, averaging 8.5 yards per carry.
In addition to being a very talented running back, McCalebb catches the football very well out of the backfield to become a legitimate dual-threat guy. Last year alone, he caught 32 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers were good for second on the team in receptions and yards for the Tigers.
When Gene Chizik announced that Dyer was suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, McCalebb’s number was called to be a leader and producer. He did not disappoint, either. McCalebb gained 109 yards and caught two passes for 53 yards and a touchdown to lead Auburn in their 43-24 rout of Virginia.
I look for McCalebb to get 125 carries this season, and he should have the opportunity, if healthy, to break his career rushing yards for a season (810). He should be the featured back in a new offense for coordinator Scot Loeffler.
Onterio McCalebb will be the No. 1 homerun threat in the SEC for 2012. He should have a great senior season.
MCCALEBB’S 2010 HIGHLIGHTS: