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Even though the Mid American Conference (MAC) is one of the least regarded conferences in terms of prestige, it may be one of the most exciting. Last year we saw Buffalo running back Jared Patterson run for 409 yards and eight TDs in a single game. Speaking of Buffalo, one of the most feared rushers in the league was a product of the Bulls, so there is plenty of talent within.
Let’s not forget either that there’s always midweek MACtion. The conference tends to have Tuesday and Wednesday primetime slots, so it basically makes every day for a football fan, a game day. Even with such a short season, that period from late October through November was a wild ride due to the deep slate of games all week long, thanks to the MAC.
Now that we’ve touched a little on what makes the MAC important to college football, let’s dive in and discuss some hidden gems of the conference.
Akron Zips: LB Bubba Arslanian
The first team All-MAC selection is just as good on the field as his Twitter handle “@bubba_licious27” is off the field. He’s a freak of nature in the weight room and his ability to destroy ball carriers between the lines is a testament to that. His 72 tackles in only six games had him on pace for roughly 142 in a full season. The man is an animal.
Ball State: LB Brandon Martin
Even the best of the best in this conference don’t get the recognition they deserve, and Martin is no exception. There’s not too much to say other than he’s an absolute freak in pursuit and should be playing on Sundays after next season. Even though he’s a 3-4 MLB currently, I really feel like he could play any of the 4-3 linebacker spots at the next level.
He was the MAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and racked up 90 tackles in only eight games. This includes grabbing 13 in the MAC Championship Game against the rush heavy Buffalo. Martin can flat out ball and if he had more size on his frame, he would be riding the same hype train that Zaven Collins did.
Bowling Green Falcons: SS Jordan Anderson
The Falcons 2020 season was one to forget as they went 0-5 and only caused one defensive turnover all season. Anderson led the team in passes defended, and was third on the team in solo tackles. As a player who has gotten to the quarterback, forced fumbles and grabbed an interception in the past, I’d look for him to help get this defense back on track.
Buffalo Bulls: DT George Wolo
For a true freshman season as an interior defensive lineman, Wolo really exceeded expectations with three sacks and two forced fumbles. He is a product of Good Counsel in Olney, MD which produces top tier talent in the state and even has been nationally ranked recently. From the looks of it, Wolo dropped some weight and gained some muscle when he arrived on campus.
As a senior in high school he was great at using his strength and pushing linemen around. In college he has a little more pep in his step and really gets a burst off the line. He’s going to be on the NFL radar in a few years if he continues to boost that stat sheet.
Eastern Michigan Eagles: DL Turan Rush
It’s so fitting that a player with the last name Rush can get to the quarterback so often. In only six games he brought down the quarterback 4.5 times, and would have been close to double digits with a full slate of games. His hustle plays where he can make tackles way downfield are what jumps off the tape for me. I don’t see any reason why Rush won’t cross that double digit threshold and find an NFL roster next year.
Northern Illinois Huskies: CB Jordan Gandy
The Huskies weren’t very good as a team last year as they finished 0-6. Gandy however was a real bright spot as the leading tackler on the team, and he even had an interception and seven passes defended. This team will probably be sub .500 again in 2021 but Gandy will lock it down on the perimeter.
Ohio Bobcats: SS Jett Elad
A product of the Cleveland, OH powerhouse Saint Ignatius, Elad was definitely an underrated recruit out of high school. In just his three collegiate games he’s shown the versatility to press from the nickel or drop like a safety. He collected two interceptions in those three games that Ohio was able to get in last season, and proved to be an able tackler as well.
Toledo Rockets: CB Samuel Womack
I’ve said it plenty of times before in these pieces that the guys who wear #0 on defense are a problem, and Womack backs up that claim. Over the past two seasons he’s led the Rockets in pass break ups and has even taken a few away from the offense. Sometimes corners with the least amount of items on the stat sheet are the best because nobody wants to throw the ball their way. Womack certainly fits the bill here.