As one of just four players since 2000 to accumulate 4,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving, running back Elijah McGuire’s collegiate finale is slated for Saturday, Dec. 17th when the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns square off with the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in the New Orleans Bowl.
McGuire has been one of the most consistent RBs in college football over the past four years, topping 1,200 total yards from scrimmage in each season:
Year Games Rushes ruYDS ruTDS Receptions reYDS reTDS
2013 13 103 863 8 22 384 3
2014 13 166 1264 14 45 468 2
2015 12 209 1047 13 34 304 3
2016 12 215 1028 7 28 231 2
While the season-long totals are impressive, it’s difficult not to notice the steady drop-off in total yardage from his peak season in 2014 up until now. One reason for this decline could be the level of offensive play for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
According to Football-Outsiders, Louisiana-Lafayette’s offensive line ranked 26th in the nation in terms of Adjusted Line Yards in 2014. Since then, their run blocking efficiency has fallen off a cliff – 77th in 2015 and 81st this season. On a more comprehensive level, Louisiana-Lafayette is also ranked 121st in total offensive efficiency according to S&P+ rankings. It is then perhaps more impressive to see McGuire continue to produce similar counting stats while the offense he plays in has fallen apart over the last three seasons.
Sixty-three percent of his career carries and 67 percent of his career touchdowns have come against Sun Belt opponents, almost certainly pointing toward questions of sub-par competition as McGuire moves toward the draft. And while it’s true that production against non-Power 5 teams is weighted less by most evaluators, McGuire has averaged 101 total yards in four career games against SEC opponents.
Year Age msRUSH msRUYDS msREC msRECYDS
2013 19.5 18.8 31.8 11.2 13.9
2014 20.5 30.7 42.9 18.9 18.9
2015 21.5 47.1 50 15 12.2
2016 22.5 40.5 46.6 14.3 10.4
Commanding 40 percent of a team’s carries and rushing yards for three straight seasons is impressive, even in a lower-level conference. What might be even more impressive is McGuire’s command of 10 percent or more of his team’s receptions and yardage across all four collegiate seasons.
It’s also worth mentioning that McGuire has played three of his four seasons with Terrance Broadway and Anthony Jennings — both dual-threat quarterbacks totaling 401 rushing attempts combined — which potentially limited McGuire’s rushing volume relative to playing in a more traditional offense.
As we’ve talked about so many times before, the 2016 RB prospect class is littered from top to bottom with talent. Big names like Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette are almost certain to go as first-round picks, with guys like Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb, and others likely to land in the top 100.
As of right now, Elijah McGuire is not at that level. He’s a bit undersized at 5 feet 11 inches, 208 pounds, has played the majority of his snaps against non-Power 5 competition, and is one of the older RB prospects in the class (22.5 years old). If he bricks his workouts, he could go undrafted.
But for any criticism against McGuire, his consistency in production, command of a large percentage of his team’s carries, catches, and yardage, and his proven ability as a pass-catcher are all fair counterarguments. Don’t be surprised if at least one NFL front office is willing to take a shot.