Amongst all the skepticism surrounding Illinois before the season, people consistently talked positively about their optimism for junior running back Mikel Leshoure.
Leshoure began bringing attention to himself last season when he had his first 100-yard game against Purdue (122 yards) and followed it up with 150 yards the next week against Michigan. He gave Illinois an even bigger reason to feel good about his future when he ran for a career-high 184 yards and two touchdowns in the season finale against Fresno State.
Everyone assumed Leshoure would have an even bigger 2010 season, and so far, he hasn’t disappointed.
Displaying power and speed, Leshoure ran for 180 yards and one touchdown Saturday, saving Illinois from an upset against Northern Illinois.
He had eight runs of 10-plus yards, including a 29-yard touchdown run. It was also his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, marking the first time since 1997 an Illinois running back had done that.
For the season, Leshoure is already beyond halfway to his 734 rushing yards and five touchdowns of last year. In three games, he has compiled 407 yards and three touchdowns.
With the numbers he has put up and the skill he has shown, it’s only a matter of time before Leshoure’s stock takes off. While he may not play for as highly-touted of a team as Wisconsin’s John Clay or Iowa’s Adam Robinson, he has proved he belongs in that category of elite Big Ten running backs.