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Kareem Hunt returning for his senior season

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The star running back for Toledo could've very well left for the NFL Draft, but he'll be a Rocket for just one more year.

Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

Kareem Hunt very well could have forgone his senior season to declare for the NFL Draft, but he has officially made his decision to stay in school for one more year.

Hunt has been an explosive back for the Rockets in his three years. A good backup option as a freshman with 866 rushing yards, then went to be the MAC's rushing leader as a sophomore with 1,631 yards in 10 games (16 TD, 8.0 yards per carry).

In 2015, Hunt was a Second Team All-MAC running back along with teammate Terry Swanson. Hunt finished his junior season fifth in the MAC with 973 rushing yards, but led the conference with 108.1 yards per game (nine games played), tied for fifth with 12 scores. In five of the nine games he played, Hunt had over 100 rushing yards with a season-high 153 yards on the road against Bowling Green.

In his three seasons, Hunt 3,470 rushing yards (6.7 yards per carry) with 34 touchdowns. He's currently fourth in school history in rushing yards, just four yards shy of passing Trinity Dawson (2002-2005). Chester Taylor holds the career rushing record at UT with 4,849 (1,379 behind).

One of the nation's best physical and agile runners, would have been one of the first five running backs selected in the 2016 NFL Draft (per Rotoworld). A second-day selection would have been more than a fair projection for the 6-foot, 220-pound prospect. We didn't name him our no. 1 player in the MAC before the season if he weren't that good.

Ultimately, this is huge deal for the Rockets. With Hunt, they'll have another year of him and Swanson taking handoffs in the backfield, plus Damion Jones-Moore, reminding us that they were already deep at running back this season and 2016 should be even more explosive.

To overstate the obvious, Hunt really needs to be able to stay healthy for his stock to improve. He's had hamstring issues earlier in the season, had some knee issues as a sophomore, but it's not like those things truly define Hunt as a football player. His speed, his strength, his great footwork and overall ability to simply take over a game are what do that for Hunt.