If you’re in search of the top ball carrier in the Big 12, the answer could be found in Ames, Iowa.
As a sophomore, Iowa State’s David Montgomery was a key cog in the Cyclones’ 8-5 campaign. Along the way, he forced 109 missed tackles, which now stands as a Pro Football Focus record. Now set for an even heavier workload in 2018, Montgomery was ranked as the No. 1 running back in the Big 12 and the No. 9 running back nationally by Athlon Sports’ Steve Lassan.
“Montgomery delivered a breakout season for coach Matt Campbell’s Cyclones last fall, rushing for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns,” Lassan said. “Montgomery also caught 36 passes for 296 yards and eight scores. According to Pro Football Focus, Montgomery led all FBS rushers by causing 109 missed tackles last fall.”
Considering his 2017 productivity, Montgomery’s ranking is likely based upon his expected role as a junior. Despite rushing for those 1,100-plus yards last season, Montgomery ranked just 37th nationally in rushing yards, and he ranked third in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson (1,161) and Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill (1,467).
Each will be back in 2018.
However, Montgomery’s two-year upward trajectory certainly provides optimism that the 5-foot-11, 219-pound talent will take yet another step forward next season. For example, Montgomery more than doubled his freshman-season productivity, up from 563 yards in 2016, and did so as arguably the biggest focal point for opposing game-planners.
Of course, expecting Montgomery to double his productivity yet again and blossom into a 2,000-yard rusher next season may be a bit far-fetched, but the talent and opportunity are in place for him to blossom as the league’s top running back.
With star receiver Allen Lazard no longer in Ames, Montgomery’s 258 carries last season will quite possibly pale in comparison to the offensive weight he’ll be asked to shoulder in 2018.