2022 Northwestern Football MVP: Evan Hull

By Brendan Preisman

2022 was a season to forget for Northwestern football. Even before the hazing scandal that rocked the program and led to the firing of longtime head coach Pat Fitzgerald, the team stumbled to a 1-11 finish, the program’s worst record since the winless 1989 season. 

Despite the lack of team success, however, there was still plenty of individual achievement. And no individual achieved more on the stat sheets than junior running back Evan Hull.

Hull first burst onto the scene in 2021, his redshirt sophomore season. He was able to earn honorable mention All-Big Ten after rushing for 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns, both of which were top 10 marks in the conference. In his best game, a 35-6 win over Ohio, Hull rushed for 216 yards, which was the 16th-best total in school history.

Hull quickly got going in 2022, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown in the win over Nebraska. He also added 55 receiving yards, something that would become a theme for #26. In the team’s next contest against Duke, Hull rumbled for 65 rushing yards, but amassed an eye-popping 213 receiving yards, good for third all-time in program history. 

The Incredible Hull(k) continued to gash defenses as the season went on, earning his eighth career 100-yard game against Southern Illinois. The performance tied him with Venric Mark for the sixth-most 100-yard rushing games in program history, with eight.

However, after that game, Hull slowed down as conference play began. Against Miami (OH), Penn State, and Wisconsin, the running back failed to tally even 80 all-purpose yards in a single game. But the drought wouldn’t last for long.

Hull’s third game of the season over the century mark came against Maryland, and he continued his high level of production in the receiving game as well. While Iowa was able to stymie Hull in their matchup, he nearly helped Northwestern defeat Ohio State at Ryan Field. His 122 rushing yards that day brought him into a tie with Noah Herron and Damian Anderson, as it was his 10th career game with 100 or more rushing yards. 

Hull would break that record two weeks later against Purdue, with his 105 yards pushing him over the century mark for the 11th time in his storied career. He also was able to amass over 50 rushing yards against both Minnesota and Illinois (the games sandwiching the Purdue matchup) to close out the season.

It was a disappointing season for the team, but no one could be disappointed in Hull. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten for the second consecutive year, and led all FBS running backs in receptions with 54, which he parlayed into 546 receiving yards.

When those yards through the air combined with his 913 yards on the ground, Hull’s season stacked up with some of the best in college football. He finished third in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards at 1,640, behind only Illinois’ Chase Brown and Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim. That mark was also good for 17th nationally, ahead of names like Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs and right behind UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet.

Hull’s ability to do damage in both the passing and rushing game was almost unprecedented. He was just the 16th player since 2000 to average over 75 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards per game over a full season, alongside players like Saquon Barkley and Travis Etienne. He also was the first Big Ten player with over 200 receiving yards and 50 rushing yards in the same game this century.

Hull’s name is all over the Wildcat record book. He’s ninth all-time in program history with 2,417 career rushing yards, and his mark of 65.3 yards per game slots in at ninth as well. His career mark of 5.0 yards per carry is fourth, as is his mark of 11 100-yard rushing games. He also became the first player to lead Northwestern in both rushing yards and all-purpose yards in consecutive seasons since Justin Jackson, who is almost certainly the best running back in Northwestern history. 

Hull’s stellar season earned him a fifth-round selection by the Indianapolis Colts, who took him 176th overall in April. With his receiving prowess and ability to contribute on special teams, Hull has a chance to receive lots of action for the Colts. He also looked very good alongside Anthony Richardson in preseason action, so if the Colts trade star running back Johnathan Taylor, Hull could easily be one of the players replacing him.