Melikke Van Alstyne will once again be the main focal point for Framingham State’s offense! (Photo Credit: MASCAC)
By Matt Noonan
The road to the first official college football game in Massachusetts is vastly approaching. And while we’re currently in the process of producing previews of the various teams throughout the state, we’ve also decided to unveil players to watch for this season too.
Our list begins with Framingham State University junior running back Melikke Van Alstyne, who holds the school’s rushing record with 2,735 yards in just two seasons.
* During his freshman year with the Rams in 2010, he rushed for 1,152 yards on 220 carries for seven touchdowns.
* Last season, he led the New England Football Conference in rushing, all-purpose yards and scoring. Van Alstyne concluded the year with 1,579 yards on the ground and 21 touchdowns.
* In July 2012, he was named a second team preseason All-American by Beyond Sports Network.
* Against Maine Maritime, Van Alstyne led Framingham’s offense with 251 yards and five touchdowns, as the Rams defeated their divisional foe, 42-14. That was the most yards and touchdowns he recorded all season in a single game.
*Against Massachusetts Maritime, he scored four touchdowns and rushed for 233 yards on 39 carries.
* He concluded the season with an average of 143 rushing yards per game.
2012 Outlook: The biggest question entering the upcoming season will be can Van Alstyne match his performance from a year ago?
It’s going to be tough, especially since the pre-season polls suggest that the NEFC is going to be “wide open.” So, if FSU is going to be successful, they’ll have to start with their ground game, which recorded 1,779 yards on 438 carries and 24 touchdowns last season.
Obviously, Van Alstyne will most likely receive roughly 200 carries, and probably register 1,200-1,400 yards in 10-11 games. Yet, how many touchdowns will he record? I’ll go with 11 or 12, but of course, it’s likely he’ll tally a few more.
Van Alstyne is a critical component of Coach Tom Kelley’s offense; so don’t expect an off year from the rising junior, who has drastically improved year-to-year. His production last season provided relief for junior quarterback Dino Mancinelli, who tossed 10 touchdowns, nine of them to James McCarthy.
As long as Van Alstyne continues his current trend and the offensive line provides the necessary lanes, then expect Framingham to contend once again for a Bogan Division crown, as well as a MASCAC title, too. However, if opposing defenses can stop him, then the Rams will have to rely on young receiving core.