Mark Walton Named CFB’s 10th Most Dangerous Runner and Receiver


In an article examining College Football’s most dangerous runners and receivers on the Bleacher Report, the Miami Hurricanes Mark Walton was selected 10th in the nation.

Mark Walton is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns. He added 27 receptions for 240 yards and one touchdown. He is currently ten touchdowns overall and 12 rushing touchdowns from setting Miami program records.

Tenth seems a bit low for Walton on this list. The Miami depth behind him at running back has question marks for the 2017 season. Travis Homer had seven carries during his Freshman season in 2016. Trayone Gary is coming off of a medical redshirt season from a torn ACL.

Miami lost Walton’s backups, Joseph Yearby and Gus Edwards.  Yearby left a year early for the NFL and Edwards transferred to Rutgers. There is a lot of uncertainty behind Walton at running back. That likely means a lot of carries for the Miami star Junior.

The Bleacher Report’s top ten used three primary categories to examine and project their list. They profiled a player’s rushing ability, his receiving ability and what to expect from the player in 2017.

"Rushing ability: There are only two returning players in the ACC who ran for 800 or more yards last season: Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (1,571) and Mark Walton. The Hurricanes speedster rushed for at least 110 yards six times as a sophomore, pacing Miami’s offense to a 6-0 record and 44.2 points in those contests. Can he do it more consistently in 2017, though? Walton averaged 8.4 yards per carry in his first three games, 3.0 in the next five, 7.3 for three games and 3.8 in the final two.Receiving ability: Walton ranked fifth on Miami in both receptions and receiving yards last year…But he was still an important piece out of the backfield. Walton had three receptions in six consecutive games midway through the season and saved his best performance—four catches for 46 yards and a score—in the regular-season finale.What to expect in 2017: With both backup running back Joseph Yearby and primary receiving target Stacy Coley out of the picture, Walton could be headed for a monster year. But will Miami need as much out of its running back while (likely) starting Malik Rosier at quarterback? The increase in mobility under center could minimize’s Walton’s potential boost. Then again, perhaps he’ll get more touches as a checkdown option than he did with Brad Kaaya at QB."

Bleacher Report’s take on Walton’s inconsistent 2016 season is accurate. With the uncertainty behind him this season, Mark Richt needs his star running back to be on every game.

The whole of Walton’s 2016 season was excellent. Only Walton and Louisville’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson had over 1,000 yards rushing among the returnees in the ACC last season.

Walton is likely to become a key check down receiver in the passing game. Miami’s thin depth at tight end behind Chris Herndon and the graduation of 2016 leading receiving Stacy Coley increase Walton’s value in the passing game.

Add to that a new quarterback and Walton could become his quarterback’s best friend. Although the focus of the article is the most dangerous rushers and receivers, Walton is also an adept blocker. He is one of the complete backs in college football.

Next: Mark Richt Discusses Importance of QB Running Ability

It’s hard not to see Walton having a monster year. It might be a bit of stretch to see him as a Heisman Trophy candidate. He could be a candidate for ACC Player of the Year. That will likely depend on the performances of Jackson and Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois.