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The Cradle Of All-Purpose Yards

The number of MAC players atop the FBS all-purpose yard leaderboard is more than you think, nor is it a common occurrence in recent years.

Joe Robbins - Getty Images

While tracking Dri Archer's all-purpose yards, which is a new fetish of mine and one that may require me to seek counseling, I looked at the new leaderboard. Yes, Army intelligently kicked away from Archer last weekend and/or blasted it for a touchback (over half their kickoffs have done that ... our soldiers have good legs). No sweat, Archer just made up for it by getting those yards on the ground, 222 in all, equal to his all-purpose total from Eastern Michigan.

He's still on pace to do great things. Which means, yes, he's still leading the FBS in all-purpose yards by about 100 over Northwestern's Venric Mark, who has played one more game than Archer.

Then I looked down some more. Ball State's Jamill Smith, who I knew was up there, is 7th with 1,144 yards on just 81 plays. And by virtue of that 400-plus APY game last weekend, Toledo's Bernard Reedy vaulted all the way to fourth with 1,225 yards on 80 plays.

Here's the full list. Even OHIO's Beau Blankenship is 11th just on his running/receiving. Then there's David Fluellen at 19th, Jordan Lynch at 21 ... if you keep going down the list you'll never stop ... Jaime Wilson at 25th, Jawon Chisholm at 28th ... OK, gonna stop right now. It's just MAC players all the way down.

I wondered if this was a common thing that I hadn't noticed. Nope. Year-by-year, here are the number of MAC players who ranked in the top 30 all-purpose yards:

2012: 8 (Archer, Reedy, J. Smith, Blankenship, Fluellen, Lynch, J. Wilson, Chisholm)
2011: 5 (Eric Page, Jordan White, Donte Harden, Matt Brown, Branden Oliver)
2010: 1 (Page)
2009: 2 (Antonio Brown, Freddie Barnes)
2008: 3 (A. Brown, MiQuale Lewis, Brandon West)
2007: 5 (Dante Love, A. Brown, Jalen Parmele, West, Eugene Jarvis)

The most interesting part about this cross-section of players: From year to year there were some super skill players and that was about it. In 2011 there were some excellent players but all were seniors except Oliver, who's been dinged up all year. You'd expect maybe two or three seasons ... but eight players are having unbelievable years for their teams.

Maybe this number goes down with more games, meaning more regression. But conference play is largely over and most of the players are going to see nothing but MAC defenses and mid-tier bowl opponents. You might even see a ninth person jump out of nowhere and into the top 30.