Football MVP: Evan Hull
Finding high notes from the 2021-22 football season were few and far between, but the contributions from Evan Hull made him a surefire pick for team MVP.
The Maple Grove, Minnesota native was poised to take on the backup role in the backfield before the season started; however, an injury to then-sophomore Cam Porter last August thrusted Hull into a starting role. Although panic surfaced in the wake of Porter’s injury, Hull took his opportunity and ran with it in 2021.
In his redshirt sophomore season, Hull placed sixth in the conference in rushing yards (1,009) and eighth in rushing touchdowns (7), en route to receiving an All-Big Ten honorable mention by coaches and media. He led the team in all-purpose yards (1,276) and averaged over 100 all-purpose yards per game while playing all 12 games with 11 starts.
Hull asserted his dominance early in the season, rushing for 481 total yards in the first four games highlighted by a 216-yard, two-touchdown performance against Ohio in week four. With that effort, Hull became just the fifth player to rush for over 200 yards under Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald. A month later, he scored the team’s only touchdown against Michigan on a 75-yard run.
In every sense of the word, Hull heavily carried the ground game. He was responsible for 57.99% of the total rushing yards, 43.36% of all carries and 32.9% of total offensive yards. In seven of the 12 contests, Hull rushed for at least 80 yards despite defenses knowing he would be the focal point of the Wildcat offense.
At the 2022 Big Ten Media Days on July 26, Fitzgerald had high praise for his third-year back.
“Evan’s a complete back,” Fitzgerald said. “[He had] over a thousand yards rushing the ball. We weren’t maybe the balance we wanted to have, so people were able to load the box and do that. A lot of that Evan was able to do after contact. That shows you about his toughness and physicality.”
Heading into the 2022-2023 season, Hull spearheads a loaded running back room poised to carry the offense once more. Even with competitive depth in a healthy Porter, sophomore Anthony Tyus III and grad student Andrew Clair, Hull deserves his spot atop the depth chart.
In July, he was named a 2022 Doak Walker Award candidate and placed on the 2022 Maxwell Award Watch List, presented to the best player in college football.
With the season on the horizon, the Wildcat offense will need to show more signs of life in order to be competitive. Having the “Incredible” Hull return is a positive first step in doing so.