18 for ’18: 18 key offseason topics: No. 10, five key stars who were injured last year, and now need to come back strong.
18 for ’18: No. 10 Five Key Returning Injured Stars
18 for ’18 Offseason Topics
18: Power 5 Coach Hot Seat Rankings
17: Power 5 Projected Win Totals & Swing Games
16. Best Longshot National Championship Teams
15. Group of 5 vs. Power 5 Upset Alerts
14. Every Power Five Team’s Letdown Game
13. Breakout QBs You Need To Know
12. Already Great Players About To Explode
11. Every Power Five’s Sleeper Team
Their injuries turned into a big part of the 2017 season for their respective teams, and now they’re all trying to come back quickly and be stars again.
Assuming they can all come back and be back to their previous form.
They’re some of the top injured players who could be the difference makers this college football season. While most of them will have to wait until fall camp to fully show what they can do, their return matters.
Start it all off with two guys who might be under the national radar, but in terms of the MAC chase – and on the statistical leaderboard for one of them – their return is a big deal …
5. RB James Gilbert, Sr. & QB Riley Neal, Jr. Ball State
There was a time in the middle of 2016 when he was the hottest running back in college football. And this season, James Gilbert might just be among the nation’s top statistical stars.
Two years ago, the 5-8, 200-pound quick back was the centerpiece of the Cardinal attack, running for 1,332 yards and 12 scores including a 264-yard day against Buffalo.
Expected to blow up last season – on just about every watch list – he couldn’t get going, suffered a thumb injury, and missed the last nine games in a total dud of a run for the Cardinals.
Now, he’s back along with QB Riley Neal – who also played just three games, getting knocked out with a shoulder problem – to potentially kickstart the struggling program.
Four starters are back up front, Caleb Hunter returns from a 1,003-yard freshman season, and 12 of the top 13 pass catchers are back.
If Neal can regain the form that led to his 2,541-yard, 13 score 2016 season, cut down on the interceptions, and keep hitting over 60% of his throws, there will be a passing game again.
And if Gilbert is right and can get hot right away, welcome to one of the MAC’s sleeper teams.