If you have not heard of NIU RB Garrett Wolfe by now then you are simply not paying attention. In week 5, against Ball State, Garrett rushed for 353 yards and 3 touchdowns, breaking records he held himself previously. He is currently atop the nation in rushing yardage and is averaging and jaw-dropping 9.3 ypc for the year. So where did this little 5'7" RB come from? As he starts to garner more attention from the national media, we look into just who Garrett is and how he has come to become the best running back in the nation.
Nobody could have predicted Garrett's rise to the top. He was redshirted his freshman season, and then had academic issues which cost him a year of eligibility. It was not until half way through his sophomore season did Garrett Wolfe get action on the football field. In a nationally televised rivalry game against Bowling Green, incumbent NIU starter AJ Harris had gone down to injury right around half time. Insert Garrett Wolfe. Garrett stepped into national limelight in the second half with 204 second-half yards vs. Bowling Green. He ended 2004 gaining 1,470 (210.0 ypg.) of total 1,656 yards and tallied 17 of 21 TDs in final seven-regular season games. Finally given the opportunity, Wolfe took full advantage.
In 2005, Wolfe didn't let up. Garrett gained 393 rushing yards and four TDs on 51 attempts (7.7 ypp. average) against two Big Ten Conference opponents in first two contests vs. No. 4 Michigan and Northwestern. He outrushed Michigan RB Mike Hart (148 to117) and Northwestern TB Tyrell Sutton (245 to214). He then rushed for 724 yards and nine TDs in final three games (241.3 ypg.) in comeback from left knee sprain suffered vs. Eastern Michigan. Wolfe relished playing against NIU's toughest MAC opponents as well as evidenced by his gaining 177 yards and two TDs on 29 carries vs. Toledo, 277 more and five TDs in 36 attempts vs. Western Michigan, and 270 yards and two TDs on 42 plays vs. Akron in MAC Championship Game.
Garrett has been an absolute offensive machine this year, his numbers are especially impressive when compared to his competition in the Heisman race. He has almost twice as many rushing yards as so-called Heisman favorite Adrian Peterson. He has more rushing yards than Ohio State QB Troy Smith has passing yards. After week 5, he sits 375 yards clear of second place in rushing yardage (Rutgers' Ray Rice with 801.) Despite his numbers being a good deal better than his counterparts, Garrett still is receiving nominal attention when it comes to serious Heisman Candidates. Even now, he is only #4 on ESPN's top Heisman list despite his numbers being unequaled by the candidates in front of him.
Respect is hard to come by when you are playing for a non-BCS team, but Wolfe is determined to get it. One game at a time.