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2016 MAC Player Countdown #23: Terry Swanson, RB, Toledo

Terry Swanson has improved each year in Toledo. Could he break one thousand yards in 2016?

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Swanson may be number two in the Toledo Rockets’ backfield, but he’s number 23 on our list of the MAC’s 25 best players headed into 2016.

Of course, Swanson isn’t your traditional backup running back. He’s not used as a red zone bruiser, racking up touchdowns on short yardage plays. Nor is he used simply as a way to keep fellow running back Kareem Hunt fresh. Swanson is a very real weapon that has been used quite a bit by the Rockets in a number of scenarios, and will be called on the same way in 2016.

Last season, Swanson rushed for 923 yards on 143 attempts, good for 6.5 yards per carry and a second team All-MAC selection to go with it. He finished seventh overall in the conference for rushing yardage totals, meaning he out rushed the starting running back of half the league. Must be nice to be Toledo, having a back like that at number two.

It does seem almost unfair the level of success the Rockets have had at running back over recent years. After all, in nine of the previous 11 seasons a Toledo player has rushed for over one thousand yards, with gap years in 2009 - Dajuane Collins with 991 - and 2015 - Kareem Hunt with 973. Talk about a dominant decade plus. But if you’re thinking there’s no way it could get even better for the Rockets, think again. This year, with Swanson’s ability, Toledo could field two, thousand yard rushers in the same backfield.

For Swanson to help accomplish this feat, he’ll have to rack up some serious yards with limited carries, given that he only averages 13 touches per game. Luckily for Toledo, number two is known for streaks of explosiveness. Take, for example, last year against Kent State, where Swanson torched the Flashes for 161 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries. For perspective, the Flashes allowed just under 90 yards rushing per game in conference play last season. In another game against Eastern Michigan, he rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown, which, looks like a pedestrian stat line before considering he had just four attempts from scrimmage in the game.

Don’t let the depth chart fool you, Swanson is one of the best backs in the league and would likely start for nearly every team in it. It just so happens that this Hunt guy he backs up is pretty damn good, maybe even the best ever in the MAC at his position. But Swanson is pretty damn good himself, and he makes Toledo nearly impossible to defend when even getting Kareem Hunt off the field isn’t enough to earn a bit of a break.

Speaking of that Kent State game, the entire thing is below, but if you want to see Swanson start to heat up as well as his 23 yard touchdown, skip to 51:02.