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2017 Best Players in the MAC: #3 James Gilbert, RB, Ball State Cardinals

Western Michigan v Ball State Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

After a solid freshman season where James Gilbert ran for 608 yards and 8 touchdowns, he exploded for 1332 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016. His best game of the year was against Buffalo, where he ran for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had a career long 80 yard scamper in that game.

His breakout sophomore season resulted in a First Team All-MAC selection. He was also given the John Magnabosco award, given to the Ball State Cardinals MVP. His performance also placed him on a couple of prestigious watch lists for the Doak Walker and Maxwell awards.

The 5’8, 200lb Gilbert was a standout in the Indianapolis public school system, where he ran for 4817 yards on his career and was named his team’s MVP. He was also first team all state and the 2014 Indianapolis Public Schools Player of the Year.

A lot of experts (well at least one, me) are predicting a turn around from Ball State’s 4-8 record from a year ago. James Gilbert is a big reason why.