The football team was still searching for its feature running back heading into the 2012-13 season.
After junior Zurlon Tipton rushed for 1,492 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2012, it’s safe to say it won’t be searching at the start of 2013.
The 6-foot-1, 219-pound Detroit native was named Second Team All-Conference and finished 13th in the country in rushing this season. His 1,492 yards rushing is the fourt-best in CMU single-season history.
“Zurlon got better as the season went on,” said head coach Dan Enos. “This was really his first full year playing football since his senior year of high school. He’s had injury problems and other issues since he’s been here.”
Tipton played in the season-opener in 2009 before missing the rest of the season due to injury. In 2010, he played in 10 games in a limited role. Tipton came into 2011 as one of the top options to lead the team in rushing, but another injury limited him to just seven games.
In 2012, he finally was able to stay on the field and Enos, a former running backs coach at Michigan State, was able to have a workhorse in the backfield for the first time in his three years as head coach. Enos is hoping for more of the same in Tipton’s senior season.
“Much like this year, we want him to carry the ball 20 to 25 times a game,” Enos said. “He held up this year, but we’re really going to challenge him in the offseason to get him in outstanding condition to take it a step further next year. He needs to continue to improve in a lot of areas. He can continue to get his body bigger and stronger.”
With seniors, like quarterback Ryan Radcliff, wide receiver Cody Wilson, offensive tackle Eric Fisher and safety Jahleel Addae leaving the program, Enos expects Tipton to step up in other ways as well.
“More so, were really challenging Zurlon to step up and be a leader of our team,” Enos said. “He does that every day with the way he works and his attitude, but guys like him, (wide receiver) Titus Davis and (lineman) Jake Olson are going to have to take on a more vocal role with our football team.”
Tipton and the rest of the Chippewas will begin preparing for next season when spring camp opens in March.