Is Mississippi Running Back Dexter McCluster the Next Chris Johnson?

Daniel WolfSenior Writer IJanuary 3, 2010

Mississippi's running back sensation Dexter McCluster dominated Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl on Sunday rushing for 182 yards and two touchdowns and he was named the Offensive Player of the Game.

Breaking onto the scene just after the midway point of the college football season on Oct. 24 against Arkansas when he ran for over 120 yards and had one receiving touchdown, McCluster has become a force in college football.

Following his breakout game, McCluster followed it up with rushing performances of 186, 282, and 148 yards.

Drawing comparisons to the Tennessee Titans superstar running back Chris Johnson, McCluster is a similar mold in running style, using shifty moves and pure speed, but he is also comparative in size (McCluster is 5'8" 170 pounds, Johnson is 5'11" 190 pounds).

McCluster will obviously need to pack on a few more pounds once he gets to the NFL, but he has easily helped his overall draft position in the last seven games in his senior year with Ole Miss.

While Johnson was running for East Carolina, he too had a slow start to his senior year, but halfway through the season he broke out and finished his final year in college rushing for over 1,400-plus yards, and he helped his draft stock.

Originally projected to be a late second or third round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Johnson also showcased his blazing speed at the NFL Combine, tying the all-time mark in the 40-yard dash by running a 4.24.

McCluster is in the same boat as Johnson once was, but he is projected as a fifth round pick, which should now change with his bowl game performance and he will most likely light up the NFL Combine by showing off his speed.

He will now be on the radar of many NFL teams, and he could be projected to be selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

McCluster finished his senior year at Mississippi with 181 rushing attempts for 1,169 yards (6.45 yard per carry average) and eight touchdowns. Also, he had 44 receptions for 520 yards and three touchdowns.

Finally, he is the only player in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards and have over 500 yards receiving in the same season.

The NFL is waiting and there are many team salivating at the chance to have McCluster on their offense.

(For another college running back comparison to Chris Johnson click here .)