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2017 Best Football Players in the MAC: #16 Warren Ball, RB, Akron Zips

The ceiling is the roof

NCAA Football: Akron at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

It might surprise some that we would have a guy with 370 career rushing yards as the 16th best player in the MAC. Our reasoning is simple. If he stays healthy, there is almost no doubt that he will be one of the top players in the league. In fact, I would argue the 16 ranking might be a little low.

Warren Ball took the long way to get to the Akron Zips. The 6’1, 225 lb, Columbus, Ohio, native started his career at Ohio State. Things didn’t work out for him in his hometown, mainly because he was behind current NFL running backs Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott on the depth chart. When he did see the field, he showed promise.

When it was obvious another running back now in the NFL, Curtis Samuel, would be the starter, Ball decided to graduate transfer to Akron. His season started off on a good note, rushing for 110 yards in the opener against VMI. Then against Wisconsin, he really showed his talent, rushing for 71 yards on 10 carries against a talented Badgers defense but sadly his season ended there with injury.

Luckily for him, and the Akron fans, he was awarded an extra year of eligibility from the ever unpredictable NCAA. He returns to an Akron team that struggled mightily on the ground after his injury last season. Thomas Woodson and company did the best they could and if there was a blessing, it allowed Woodson to evolve into a good quarterback. The Zips lost 2 of their best receivers from last season, so I fully expect them to rely heavily on the legs of Ball with Woodson doing just enough to keep teams honest. For this reason, and Ball’s unbelievable athletic ability, I think there is a good chance Ball puts up some huge numbers in 2017.