If the Central Michigan football program was looking for some positive exposure this past weekend, they can consider their mission accomplished. It can be argued that Eric Fisher being the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft put the spotlight on CMU more than any moment in the programs history.
But Fisher's meteoric rise up draft boards was only made possible by the continued success of CMU players in the NFL, and it is through guys like Cullen Jenkins, Nick Bellore, Joe Staley and Antonio Brown that a pipeline has been built. With the Chippewas coming off a rebound season that saw them post a 7-6 record and win over Western Kentucky in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, NFL scouts will once again be drawn to Mt. Pleasant to go shopping for talented players. Let's take a look at the Chippewas most likely to draw looks from scouts in this upcoming season.
-For years CMU fans and coaches have raved about the talented running back, but it always seemed like something was keeping him from hitting his full potential. Whether it be off-field issues, injuries or players in front of him on the depth chart, Tipton was in danger of becoming an afterthought. He tallied only 573 yards as a freshman and sophomore, averaging just over four yards per carry. Then…it all came together as a junior. Fully healthy, Tipton raced to one of the best seasons as a Chippewa back, tallying 1,492 yards and 19 touchdowns on 5.9 yards per carry. Suddenly the 6-foot-1 and 222 pound running back was being looked at as a possible NFL pick. With the size teams covet out of a move the chains back, Tipton also has the home run speed, but scouts will look for him to stay healthy for another season and improve his pass blocking skills. Teams will also want to see how he runs when Eric Fisher isn't there opening running lanes.
WR Titus Davis
-While Davis will be just a junior next season, if he is able to stay healthy and build upon his sophomore season it won't matter. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Davis is a deep threat who caught 43 passes for 860 yards and eight touchdowns last season, with some of his best games against the Chippewas top competition. While he has all the physical tools, an end of the season suspension that left him home for CMU's bowl game and off the field concerns leave some questions. Regardless, the sky is the limit for Davis, and you would be hard pressed to find a better WR playing in the state of Michigan.
OL Jake Olson
-People often forget that it was the 6-foot-8 Olson who manned the left side of the offensive line for three years, starting over a young Eric Fisher in 2009, 2010 and first few games of 2011. He then moved to right tackle, and has since battled a multitude of injuries over the past few years. Olson suffered a season ending injury in the Michigan State last year, and the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility. Despite sitting out spring practice, Olson is expected to start at left tackle for CMU in 2013. Injuries are the obvious concerns, but Olson will also be 24 years old by the end of the season.
-If there was an award given to the player with the most potential, Walton would likely see his name at the top of the list. If it is possible to be a lean 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, Walton is it. Also a talented baseball prospect out of high school, Walton was a late addition in the 2010 class and is still developing the technique aspect of football. Just a junior, he battled injuries last season, but still tallied 32 tackles, 5.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks. With his blend of power, size and quickness, Walton is one of the most athletically gifted players on CMU's roster, but he has yet to turn the switch on and fully commit. If he does, watch out.
-A linebacker in high school, Phillips made the transition to offensive line last season and has been improving by leaps and bounds every game. 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, he has started at both guard and center, and might be the Chippewas top run blocker already. A junior, it is highly unlikely that he will leave early for the draft, but Phillips leads the next class of CMU offensive lineman to draw attention from the NFL.
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