North Carolina A&T’s Mike Mayhew, Winston-Salem State’s Nic Cooper and Elizabeth City State’s Daronte McNeill are arguably the best three running backs in all of HBCU Football – and they were all reared right here in the State.
Mayhew, who played high school football at East Mecklenburg in Charlotte leads the MEAC in rushing with 790 yards and is averaging 112.9 yards per game. He has also rushed for seven touchdowns. He was one of my top 5 players to watch in all of HBCU Football and he has lived up to the billing. He has four 100-yard rushing games this year and 10 for his career in just 18 games. He is just 470 yards shy of surpassing Maurice Hicks as the all-time leading rusher in A&T history.
McNeill and Cooper are the top rushers in the CIAA and are both over 1,000 yards rushing for the second-straight season. McNeill played his high school football at Northeastern in Elizabeth City. He transferred to ECSU from East Carolina and currently leads the CIAA in caries (238) rushing yards (1,156) and TDs (16). He has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his last five games.
Cooper, who played his high school ball at Clinton, is averaging an astonishing 7.4 yards per rush. He has good speed for a guy that is 6’0″ 245 pounds. He is second in the CIAA in rushing (1,137 yards) and touchdowns (13) and has rushed for 200 or more yards in a game twice this season.
Both Winston-Salem State and Elizabeth City State have outstanding defenses and are 1-2 in rushing defense in the CIAA. In the first meeting of the season between the two, the Rams walked away with a 22-17 victory. Cooper outrushed McNeill 123 to 90.
It should be awesome to see what both of these backs can do when these two teams, the best in the CIAA, square off in the CIAA Championship Game in three weeks at Durham County Stadium.