Another 7-6 season is in the books. It was a season of multiple ups and downs as the Eagles came together and it was beautiful...well sort of. Now with the season completed, we the fans and writers can perform an autopsy on the team. Over the next few weeks Eric and AJ will be breaking down the position groups to find out what exceeded our expectations and what wasn’t up to snuff.
Today’s let us look at the running backs. A position that started with a senior and a freshman, and ended with a possible future Heisman candidate emerging.
The season began with Jon Hilliman the presumptive favorite to be the work horse running back with A.J. Dillon and possibly Travis Levy getting some touches as well. Quickly it became clear that Dillon had a higher upside than Hilliman and became the feature back around mid season. This is exactly the time the offensive came together and was beautiful. This isn’t to say that Hilliman was thrown to the side, he still played a role in this offense, and gave Dillon much needed breathers and actually showing off a pretty decent set of his hands, something we hadn’t see out of him at the Heights. Travis Levy also became a valuable member of the group, also as a change of pace back, but also grabbing 15 catches this season. Richard Wilson continued his role of coming in for mop up duty.
AJ Dillon: 300 rushes for 1589 yards, 14 touchdowns. 5.3 yards per carry.
Jon Hilliman: 167 rushes for 638 yards, 5 touchdowns, 24 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns
Travis Levy: 21 rushes for 54 yards, 15 catches for 153 yards and one touchdown
Richard Wilson: 3 rushes for 5 yards.
What else can you say about this group. A.J. Dillon put on a clinic after he became the starter, and led the conference for running backs in total yards, first in touchdowns, was 9th in yards per carry (though none of the backs in front of him had half the carries he had), and oh yeah one of the best GIFs of the year:
While some may have expected a strong season out of Dillon, I don’t think any of us could have predicted this.
Hilliman was serviceable, and did a nice job backing up Dillon and getting some valuable carries but he never had the same speed and elusiveness that we saw before his leg injury. Good luck at Rutgers next year. Travis Levy was fine, but really wasn’t much of a game changer. Again he was just a freshman, so he has plenty of time to grow as a player.
Final Grade: A