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Top MAC Football Players of 2014: No. 33 Jawon Chisholm, Akron Running Back

The Zips are improving steadily. With a true leader at the helm, and three years of experience under his belt, Jawon Chisholm should perform and be one of if not the MAC's best running back by season's end. The Zips are ready to turn the corner and Chisholm will help guide them back to prominence.

Kirk Irwin

We have reached a point in our countdown where players may have a ranking lower than the talent they possess. Jawon Chisholm plays for the University of Akron and is one of those guys suffering in our rankings because of the team he plays for.

Chisholm stands 6 foot 1, and weighs 206 pounds. He is tough between the tackles, elusive outside the box, and can pass protect well enough to hold his own. Some people may be as bold to say he is the best running back in the Mid-American Conference. I would agree with this statement.

How can he only be No. 33 on our list if he's the best you ask? Well for starters the team surrounding him has been in the rebuilding stages for a couple of seasons now. He has yet to play on a winning squad and while head coach Terry Bowden has done a fine job of recruiting and turning the page for the Zips it has not launched Chisholm into stardom (yet).

The other major factor hurting Chisholm from being that marquee player is his lack of a great performance against a Big Five team (and lack of overall stats compared to other MAC backs). In 2011 Chisholm got his first crack at the big stage with a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Akron was destroyed in the game, and Chisholm did limited things with his touches, totaling 36 yards on 16 total touches.

In 2012 Chisholm had two major opportunities to shine in premier games. Against the Tennessee Volunteers (though he did not start) Chisholm touched the ball 14 times for a total of 53 yards. Not exactly earth shattering. He had a second chance that same season when No. 22 Northern Illinois strolled into town. He finished that day with 10 total touches for 16 total yards.

In 2013 he was provided yet another opportunity on the road in Ann Arbor. His Zips fought the Michigan Wolverines all the way down to the final seconds of the game. But once again Chisholm didn't have a great game against big boys. He had 18 total touches for 74 total yards and zero touchdowns.

When you add the four games together you see he touched the ball 58 times for 179 yards. That comes out to be a 44.75 yards per game average against the big dogs.

As a sophomore Chisholm started 10 of 12 games (though he played in all 12) and was given the team's Harry "Doc" Smith award as Most Outstanding Player in the sophomore class. He has climbed his way up our list this season after checking in at No. 64 last year. That shows his capability of competing for top 15 status. Chisholm finally has the leader at quarterback in Kyle Pohl (No. 44 on our Top 50 countdown.)

He will have two golden opportunities to show the world what he is capable of when the Zips take on Penn State University and Pittsburgh. Games against Marshall, Ball State University, and Bowling Green State University will also increase his stock if he can have solid games.

So now that I've shown his average stats vs marquee opponents, how I can claim he has the talent and potential to be the best back in the MAC? Well let's take a look at the bigger picture. Chisholm is a three year starter. Currently ranked the 58th running back in the 2015 draft class, Chisholm has a lot to prove this season. He has had a very steady career for the Zips thus far. The Zips have relied heavily upon him and have not been shy about feeding him the rock. He has a career total of 587 carries for 2,783 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Add in the fact that he also has 77 receptions for 605 yards and 3 touchdowns and you can see his importance to the Zips. If Akron's offense has improved as much as we think it has, that will draw pressure of Chisholm and give him room to explode this season.

Chisholm is the one of the Zips' best players, and he has the skills to be the best all purpose running back by seasons end. Health, and the performance of the team surrounding him will dictate how his career concludes in Akron.