If this were a list of the best names in the MAC, Zurlon Tipton would win it hands down. Just say it, Zurlon. Tipton. Exquisite. Lucky for us, he's also a pretty damn good running back, and is coming off one of the best seasons in CMU history.
Tipton came to the Chippewas from the Detroit area, like so many other recent Chippewas, where he played at Parkway Christian High School, and finished his career as one of the most decorated running backs in the state of Michigan. During his high school career, he finished his four years in the top 20 in eight different rushing categories, and was a two-time AP all-state selection. He was also named all-conference four times, and conference MVP three times. Despite the accolades he accumulated in high school, he was just a two-star recruit.
Tipton had an incredible season for the Chippewas in 2012, and became the focal point of the offense after years of throwing the ball all over the field. He virtually carried the Chippewas into a bowl game, and helped to cut down the number of turnovers that were normally caused by Ryan Radcliff having to throw the ball so often. Strangely enough, it wasn't until three, or four games into the season that Tipton became the featured back, and started getting the majority of the carriers, which makes his final totals even more impressive.
Tipton played behind arguably the best offensive line in the MAC last seaosn, and reaped the benefits with some huge games. Some of Tipton's big games in 2012 include 180 yards and three touchdowns against SEMO, 66 yards, one rushing touchdown and three catches for 41 yards and one touchdown at Northern Illinois, a career-high 243 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries against Akron, the eighth most rushing yards in a game in CMU history, four touchdowns and 185 yards at UMass. Over the final thee games, all wins, Tipton ran for 408 yards and six touchdowns, helping get CMU to 6-6, and a Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl berth, where he rushed for 101 yards to help the Chippewas win a bowl game for the first time since the Dan LeFevour era. He was also named MAC West Player of the Week twice.
His final totals for the season were 1,492 rushing yards, fourth all-time at CMU, and the most rushing yards by a Chippewa in 16 years. His 20 combined touchdowns last season, 19 rushing and one receiving, tied the all-time Chippewa record for total touchdowns in a season. For his outstanding season, Tipton was named to the 2nd-Team All-MAC, and was named the CMU team MVP award.
When our list was first released to the staff at Hustle Belt, I thought, and still feel, that Tipton was slighted by only being named #15 on the list, but that just shows the incredible depth that the MAC has at the running back position this coming season.
For the upcoming season, I can't wait to see Tipton run behind what is expected to be another great offensive line, and as the go-to guy for the entire season. Honestly, another season of 1,500 yards, and 15 touchdowns is not out of the question for this coming season, especially with CMU breaking in a new quarterback this fall, he will be leaned on heavily to carry the load for the Chippewas offense.
If Tipton can have another good season, he should see his name called during the NFL draft. Unlike Kent State dynamo Dri Archer, Tipton has NFL size, listed at 6-0, 220 lbs. And has proven that he can run between the tackles, and find the end zone. He also showed last season that he has pretty decent speed, averaging almost six yards per carry, and a long run of 72 yards.
The last Chippewa on our list, and the best name on our list, Zurlon Tipton is certainly one of the top players to watch in the MAC in 2013.