Discover more from VolumePigs
CFF Targets - Porter airlines set to take flight in BIG10 country
I hope ya'll didn't forget about Cam...
Motherf*ckers act like they forgot about Dre
- Eminem, musician
For my American readers wondering what the reference in the title is, Porter airlines is a Canadian airline company. I typically use it when I’m flying between Canadian cities, mostly because they provide free snacks and drinks (including alcohol) on board. They mostly specialize in domestic flights, but they do provide some select international locations. One of those is Chicago, which I have visited before, and also happens to be home to the program of today’s player—Cam Porter.
Northwestern University’s Porter is a discarded commodity in the CFF world currently. These days, I’m surrounded by Mofos [who] act like they forgot about Cam... For my friends who are in-need of a refresher; he was a late-round darling in the 2021 offseason before injuries derailed him. His running mate—Evan Hull, eventually stole the show and captured the attention of CFF managers everywhere.
However, with Hull now taking snaps in Indianapolis for the Colts of the NFL, it’s time to remind the CFF community about the NU sledgehammer.
Coaching & System
Northwestern’s Patz Fitzgerald is one of the few head coaches who have withstood the test of time, retaining his position as CEO of the Wildcats program since 2006! Usually I wouldn’t dive into a coach’s track record when their expertise is on the defensive side of the ball, but given the longevity of Fitz’ tenure, I think it’s necessary.
While there have definitely been more committees than volume pigs, Fitzy’s squads have had their share. From the years 2014 to 2017, Justin Jackson went over 1000 yards each season, carrying the rock 245, 312, 298 and 287 times, respectively.
Before Jackson, there was Veneric Mark, who carried the rock 226 times for 1366 yards and 12 TDs in 2012. Mark also caught 20 passes for 104 yards and another score.
There was then a substantial gap to the next bellcow in the backfield—in 2006 it was Tyler Sutton, rushing for 1000 yards and 5 TDs on 189 carries.
Mike Bajakian joined the Cats in 2020 as the OC and QBs coach, after spending a single season in the same role with Boston College in 2019. As it happens, his first season in Chicago was Cam Porter’s breakout campaign, as Baj rode him heavily in the final three games of the season (Porter had 25, 19 and 36 touches). Only a freshman in 2020, Porter looked to be the next BIG-10 star at RB.
From 2013 to 2018 Baj coached in the NFL, OCing the Tennessee Titans and serving as QBs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His most notable runner with the Titans was Chris Johnson (CJ2K), who in 2013 took 279 carries for 1077 yards and a score, plus 42 receptions for 345 yards and 4 TDs.
In every season that Baj spent with the Cincinnati Bearcats (2010-2013), there was a bellcow RB. In 2012, George Winn ran for 1334 yards and 13 TDs on 243 carries, plus 15 receptions for 28 yards. The star of this team was some weird looking dude named Travis Kelce, I wonder what he’s up to these days.
In 2010 and 2011, Isaiah Pead saw 159 and 237 carries, rushing for 1029 and 1259 yards, plus 6 and 12 TDs, respectively.
He also spent some time as the OC at Central Michigan (2007-2009), but did not have a volume pig in the backfield in any of those seasons.
And of course, in the last two seasons Northwestern’s RB1—Evan Hull, has gone over 1000 yards total back-to-back.
RB Cam Porter — 5’10, 220
The former three-star product from Cincinnati broke out with the Wildcats in his freshman season, taking on the lead back role in the back-half of the 2020 campaign. In his final three games, Porter carried the rock 24, 16 and 33 times for 142, 61 and 98 yards. He scored four TDs over those three games, and also caught seven passes for 45 yards. The list of opponents during that span is impressive: Illinois, Ohio State, and Auburn, respectively.
The arrow was all the way up on Porter during the 2021 offseason, but he would unfortunately suffer a season-ending ACL & MCL injury in August of that year. His absence would open the door for Evan Hull to take over as the bellcow, rushing over 1000 yards in his first season as the starter. Hull now vacates 221 carries and 55 receptions (23 touches per game). Hull averaged 19.9 FPG in 1-ppr formats.
Playing behind Hull, Porter rushed 87 times for 286 yards and 2 TDs in 12 games. His yards per carry average was worrying—only 3.3 per carry. But that was in year one after a devastating knee injury. Now in year two, Porter will likely be closer to his former self, and while he may never recapture his 2020 form, the opening from Hull’s departure should mean he is first in line to get fed hella volume.
The Wildcats did not bring in any freshman RB or via the portal, so it looks like they’re rolling with what they have. Other players on the roster have limited experience, with the only other notable name being Anthony Tyus III (6’1, 225). The rising junior rushed 19 times for 56 yards in 2022 over 10 games. In his freshman season he rushed 50 times for 210 yards and a score over 9 games.
I like this quote from Off Tackle Empire on NU’s backfield:
Grading the NU backs is tough because both (speaking of Porter and Tyus) are competent runners (hell, look what Isaiah Bowser did at UCF...and Porter’s better), but they’re stuck in an offense running caveman shit with subpar quarterbacking and average-at-best blocking. But I’d say the Northwestern stable, in a vacuum, should be middle of the pack on a good day.
That’s a good summation of the challenges faced when evaluating players on poor-performing programs. In the case of Evan Hull in the past two seasons, he usually started extremely well vs. out-of-conference play, and then fizzled out in the BIG-10. NU typically gets pushed around a lot, but every so-often they have a cinderella year under Fitzy, and looking at the past few seasons they seem due for another.
NU is usually an also-ran in the BIG10. That’s tough on the RB production. We saw this pattern with Evan Hull in 2021 and 2022, where he was pretty lethal in September, but then fizzled out later in the year.
Fitzy and his OC Baj showed they were happy to feed killer Cam in 2020, but with Porter now post-major injury, I have to wonder if he’ll ever recapture that form that had the staff funneling carries to him.
While Anthony Tyus has limited production so far in his career, he might be pretty involved in the backfield if concern #2 proves to be a problem.
I’m willing to take a few swings at Cam Porter late in drafts. The upside at a cheap round price is worth taking on the risk in my opinion. At the very least, he might be a good asset in September (trade bait?).
If you enjoy this content, I encourage you to join the Pig Pen (subscribing), and follow me on twitter.
Have questions? Find out what people are saying about VolumePigs here.
VolumePigs is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.