LSU Football: What You Need to Know About Tigers RB Michael Ford

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IJune 3, 2012

STARKVILLE, MS - SEPTEMBER 15:  Running back Michael Ford #42 of the LSU Tigers breaks free from linebacker Cameron Lawrence #10 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs for a first down in the third quarter on September 15, 2011 at Davis Wade stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Butch Dill/Getty Images

LSU's football program has had a rich tradition of running backs dating back to the mid 1900's with guys like Billy Cannon and Jerry Stovall to recent stars such as Joseph Addai and Jacob Hester. All of those guys had great collegiate careers and went on to play in the NFL.

But when looking over this year's 2012 LSU roster, one can't help but wonder whether there is a true RB on this team. Is there a guy who is going to go on and have a long, successful NFL career?

The answer to this question is yes...His name is Michael Ford.

Ford, a product of nearby Leesville High School, arrived in Baton Rouge back in 2009 as a highly-touted running back. He was a 4-star prospect and the No. 7 running back in the nation according to

After redshirting his first year on campus, Ford cracked the Tigers' backfield rotation in 2010 but served primarily as a backup behind Stevan Ridley. When Ridley moved on to the NFL this past season, it was Ford's time to shine in the starting role and he did just that.

Ford, or "Shug" as his teammates call him, rushed for a team-high 756 yards this past season, averaging six yards-per-carry and scoring seven touchdowns. But what makes Ford so special to this LSU team is his ability to play his best in big-time games.

Looking at last year's schedule, Ford rushed for 70-plus yards in six separate games. He put up those numbers against the likes of Oregon, West Virginia, Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas. Those are some pretty impressive numbers for a guy that never accumulated more than 14 carries in a single game.

This year, Ford should be the lead RB in what many consider to be the best backfield in all of college football. Along with Spencer Ware, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue, this group combined for more than 2,300 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2011, and will likely be expected to produce even bigger numbers this season with a new quarterback behind center.

So how good will Michael Ford be in 2012? Will he be the next in a long list of great LSU running backs?

The college football world is already talking about how great this backfield is going to be. And make no mistake about it, one large reason for that is Michael Ford.