2024 MAC RB Rankings: Antario Brown, Terion Stewart Carry the Torch

Six of the conference's top-10 leading rushers from last season are gone, causing a seismic shift in the 2024 MAC RB Rankings.

Exit Peny Boone, Rashad Amos, Marquez Cooper, Sieh Bangura, Lorenzo Lingard, and Samson Evans. Enter … who? While the top of the 2024 MAC RB Rankings varies massively from 2023 in terms of names, there is not a lack of talent.

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MAC 2024 RB Rankings

10) Rickey Hunt Jr., Ohio Bobcats

Primarily a quarterback in high school, Rickey Hunt Jr. put his name on the map against Georgia Southern in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. He took 17 carries for 117 yards and four touchdowns, even scoring on a lone 18-yard reception.

With Sieh Bangura and O’Shaan Allison gone, Hunt will battle Nolan McCormick for the starting job, but his combination of speed, shiftiness, and patience should make him the favorite.

9) Jacqez Barksdale, Buffalo Bulls

Jacqez Barksdale was Buffalo’s third-string RB last season, but he arguably outplayed Ron Cook Jr. and Mike Washington on the field. After biding his time at Coffeyville Community College for two years, Barksdale joined the backfield last season.

He took 53 carries for 240 yards and two scores, and his 6’0″ and 225-pound frame proved difficult to bring down. The Bulls will lean on Barksdale heavily in 2024 with a question mark at quarterback.

8) Myles Bailey, Central Michigan Chippewas

The Chippewas return their top two backs this season, with Myles Bailey trailing starter Marion Lukes, but not by much. Bailey’s contact balance and aggressiveness make him a menace in the open field.

MORE: Could More Teams Join UMass in the MAC?

He fumbled twice last year, which he’ll undoubtedly drill hard this offseason, but he’s a reliable RB2 that could be an RB1 on other teams in the conference.

7) Gavin Williams, Northern Illinois Huskies

Following three seasons in a reserve role at Iowa, Gavin Williams transferred to North Illinois with the hopes of more playing time. He got his wish and rewarded the Huskies behind a strong offensive line.

Serving as the team’s third-down back, Williams took 95 carries for 497 yards and three scores, adding 147 yards on 24 receptions and not allowing a sack in pass protection.

6) Gavin Garcia, Kent State Golden Flashes

Finding positive takeaways from Kent State’s 1-11 campaign isn’t easy, but Gavin Garcia stood out. At 5’8″ and less than 190 pounds, he’s at the mercy of his front five more than other backs further down the list.

Regardless, Garcia was good for at least one 10+ yard per game, even as Jaylen Thomas’ backup. As the sole starter in 2024, Garcia could provide golden flashes for the offense.

5) Jacquez Stuart, Toledo Rockets

Jacquez Stuart shined alongside Peny Boone last season, and with the latter leaving for Louisville, it’s now his backfield. Stuart is a home-run hitter at 5’9″ and 178 pounds, boasting game-altering speed. He doesn’t need a head of steam to blaze downfield, owning the change of direction and acceleration to obliterate tackling angles.

4) Marion Lukes, Central Michigan Chippewas

Marion Lukes has only two primary areas of concern from 2023: fumbles and pass blocking. Bailey is one of the better blocking backs in the country, so the latter isn’t too worrisome. But on 143 carries, Lukes let the ball hit the floor four times, making Drowning Pool proud. Yet, with a bigger emphasis on ball security, there isn’t much he can’t do.

He is a threat in the receiving game (29 catches for 299 yards in 2023), can operate in both gap and zone schemes, and is liable to break multiple tackles on a given run (turn on his game against Northern Illinois to see a master at work).

3) Jalen Buckley, Western Michigan Broncos

Western Michigan’s line consistently paved holes for Jalen Buckley to burst through, but he can create yardage after contact all the same. After redshirting in 2022, he earned MAC Freshman of the Year honors in 2023, taking 189 carries for 1,003 and 10 scores.

Buckley is a perfect fit for the Broncos’ zone-rushing scheme and will take pressure off Hayden Wolff under center.

2) Terion Stewart, Bowling Green Falcons

Terion Stewart may very well finish in the No. 1 spot come the end of the season. He flashed his playmaking ability in his first two years at Bowling Green but then took the 2022 campaign to “focus more on (his) health and academic responsibilities.”

After taking care of business off the field, he returned in 2023 and torched MAC defenses to the tune of 762 yards and eight TDs on 125 attempts. Stewart was held to nine games after an injury held him out of the final four contests.

Health permitting, he’ll light up scoreboards regardless of the blocking in front of him, breaking tackles at one of the highest rates in the country. And with Ta’ron Keith on to Western Kentucky, Stewart is primed for a national eye-opening performance.

1) Antario Brown, Northern Illinois Huskies

While Stewart is the most talented back on film, the top spot is Antario Brown’s to lose. He powered the Huskies to their first bowl victory and second winning season in five years under Thomas Hammock.

KEEP READING: 2024 MAC Transfer Portal Rankings

He has averaged over six yards per carry every year for Northern Illinois, and what he did to Akron last season (13-280-4 rushing line) was downright illegal. With Rocky Lombardi out the door, Brown will have to carry an even bigger load than his 212 carries from last season.

2024 MAC RB Rankings | 11-20

11) Zahir Abdus-Salaam, Western Michigan 
12) Delbert Mimms III, Eastern Michigan
13) Kenny Tracy, Miami
14) Dontae McMillan, Eastern Michigan
15) CJ Hester, Western Michigan
16) Dylan Downing, Miami
17) Jordon Simmons, Akron
18) Charlie Spegal, Ball State
19) TJ Horton, Ball State
20) Marquese Williams, Akron

Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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