June 12, 2007

Stacking Up: Marcus Thigpen


We'll profile IU running back Marcus Thigpen and see how he stacks up against
the other starting rushers in the Big Ten. Does Thigpen have what it takes to be an every-down back in the Big Ten or is he refined to being a special teams star? We'll see how he stacks up.

Illinois - Rashard Mendenhall

Now that Pierre Thomas has graduated, junior Rashard Mendenhall will be the
guy expected to carry the load for the Ilini. Though, Mendenhall's task won't be
an easy one. Thomas and quarterback Juice Williams helped direct the
conference's No. 1 rushing attack last season, and the Illinois coaching staff
will look to Mendenhall for similar production. But Mendhenahll won't carry the
ball as much as his predecessor, as the Illini offense should be able to throw
the ball more than it did last season. Williams has freshman wideout sensation
Arrelious Benn to thank for that. Mendehall isn't exactly green to the game,
either. He was Illinois' secondary back last season and rushed for 640 yards and
five touchdowns on the season.

Indiana - Marcus Thigpen

No one's doubting that Marcus Thigpen has speed. The former Big Ten sprint
champion reportedly once logged 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and that's
only a tenth of a second slower than the fastest time ever recorded at the NFL
Combine camp. However, people have questioned Thigpen's ability to run through
the tackles. The 5-9, 182-pound Thigpen sat out his spring track season to
concentrate entirely on football, and it's clear he spent some of that extra
time in the weight room, as he looked a little thicker this spring. Still, it's
tough to predict whether or not Thigpen will emerge as an every-down type back
this fall. The Hoosiers will need him to be able to run through the gaps created
for him this season, as IU's offensive line figures to be an improved and more
experienced unit. Clearly, the sweep running plays didn't work too well last
season, as Thigpen finished with only 398 yards - a conference low among
starting tailbacks.

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