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Chastain: Jonathan Ward deserves better than All-MAC Third Team


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Central Michigan running back Johnathan Ward walks onto the field before playing New Mexico State Oct. 12 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Jonathan Ward got snubbed. 

The Mid-American Conference announced its All-Conference selections Wednesday and put Ward, a senior running back for Central Michigan, on the Third Team for offense.

Western Michigan's Levante Bellamy and Buffalo's Jaret Patterson were named First Team, which I completely agree with. Ward could have made a case for a spot in the top team, but I take no issue with Bellamy and Patterson earning the nod. 

My big issue lies on the All-MAC Second Team. Toledo's Bryant Koback and Ball State's Caleb Huntley were the two running backs the conference decided to place on the Second Team, leaving Ward on the third. 

Koback and Huntley both played in all 12 games this season, and Huntley barely beat out Ward in terms of average rushing yards per game. Koback finished almost 7 yards per game behind Ward while Huntley beat Ward by less than a yard. 

In total, Huntley finished the year with 1,275 yards and 21 touchdowns on 248 carries. Koback reached 1,187 yards and 12 touchdowns on 195 carries. 

Ward missed two games due to a shoulder injury suffered against Wisconsin in Week 2. Despite missing the pair of games against Akron (Sept. 14) and Miami (Sept. 21), Ward still reached the 1,000-yard plateau by totaling 1,056 yards and 15 touchdowns in 164 carries. 

Another case for Ward is his versatility in catching passes, which was one of the aspects of Ward's game he wanted to improve this year.

He did just that.

In the 10 games Ward played in, he caught 28 passes for 284 yards and a touchdown, a 64-yarder against Eastern Michigan (Oct. 5).

For comparison, Huntley and Koback have combined for 94 yards receiving. Koback has 69 yards and two scores on eight catches while Huntley has 25 yards on seven catches. 

Not only has Ward been one of the best in the conference, but he has also done it in fewer games and splitting carries with junior Kobe Lewis. 

For what it's worth, Lewis has gained 953 yards and scored 11 touchdowns this season on 170 carries. His average of 79.4 yards per game is eighth in the league. 

Ward should have been at least named to the All-MAC Second Team. 

While both Huntley and Koback are talented backs and have helped their teams in a big way this season, Ward has been imperative to the Chippewas' success this season. 

He has led the Chippewas to the biggest turnaround in the country from last year to this year. Ward, too, had one of the biggest turnarounds after finishing 2018 with just 212 yards rushing in nine games. 

Ward being left off the First Team is not wrong; Bellamy and Patterson are both tremendous backs and took the conference by storm. 

But leaving Ward off at least the All-MAC Second Team, that is a disappointment after the year Ward had.

An anonymous assistant coach outside of Central Michigan also disagreed with the conference's decision.

"JWard not getting First Team is BS," the coach said.

I agree.

That is BS.

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