Michigan State's Javon Ringer is the Ultimate Team Player

Andrew BellContributor IOctober 9, 2008

There are a number of exciting players in college football this season; Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno, Missouri’s Jeremy McClain, Penn State’s Derrick Williams, Pittsburgh’s LeSean McCoy.  However, there is one player who is setting himself apart from the rest of the stars in a way that deserves recognition.


Ironically enough, it’s the refusal to take credit for his accomplishments that makes Michigan State running back Javon Ringer so special.


The nation’s second-leading rusher with 988 yards in six games (164.7 yards/game) to go along with a NCAA best 12 TDs will never talk about himself in interviews.


Instead, all the credit goes to his linemen, fullbacks and tight ends, which he brought into his post-Notre Dame interview after he rushed for 201 yards and two TDs.  That, my friends, is the mark of a true team player. 


Ringer is sacrificing the glamour, deferring the attention to his teammates and as a result, is accumulating more accolades than he ever thought.


Ringer is seriously hampering his yards per carry average and likely a chance for the Heisman by putting this 5-1 Michigan State team on his back.  


Last season, he rushed for 1,447 yards on just 245 carries (an amazing 5.9 yards/carry) while splitting carries with the bruising Jehuu Caulcrick (currently with the Jets).  Through six games this season, Ringer has nearly as many carries (212) as he had all of last season!


Even though he’s only averaging 4.7 yards/carry in 2008, he’s on pace for 1,976 rushing yards and an incredible 24 touchdowns.  For a running back who stands just 5-foot-9 and weighs 202, it’s incredible that he hasn’t been injured while continuously absorbing epic amounts of punishment; the RB with the second most carries has 179...33 less than Ringer. 


Think about that; Ringer has absorbed at least a solid game more of punishment than the next closest workhorse, yet he keeps on running and the Spartans keep on winning. 


Arguably no other back means as much to his team as Ringer does to MSU.  Ringer accounts for 44 percent of MSU's offense (164.7 yards/game out of 380.8 yards of total offense).  Unlike some other superstars (*cough* Charles Rogers* Cough*), Ringer is also contributing on special teams (Rogers refused to return punts his senior year because he didn’t want to get hurt and ruin his NFL chances).


Javon does things like bring in all of his OL and FBs into press conferences. All these carries clearly are reducing his top-end speed, causing runs that would be TDs to be "only" 30 yarders, yet you don't hear him talk one bit about his own accomplishments, unless it’s to give credit to the rest of the team.

There are plenty of writers out there who worry about Ringer wearing down because of the number of carries he's getting, but the only thing Ringer cares about is the team winning.  I think it's worth it to recognize a young man who is literally giving his all for this team to get to a bowl (and maybe even one on New Year's Day).


Ringer has a lot of Brian Westbrook in him.  Not just athletic ability, but team character.  Look at Brian Westbrook last year against the Cowboys; had a clear path to the endzone, but sat down on the 1-yard line to keep the clock running, so the Eagles could win the game and make the playoffs. 


That’s an example of the character a true team player exhibits; foregoing the individual stats in pursuit of greater team glory.

There are plenty of tremendous athletes; there are fewer team players and all around great characters. Remember when Cedric Benson said before the Red River Shootout his senior Year (Had never beaten Oklahoma) that he'd rather win the Heisman than beat Oklahoma?


The Spartans can be proud that we have someone that is totally the opposite of that on their team. NFL franchises love playmakers, but they love character also.


Ringer will get chances that Benson never will because of his character, and he will no doubt reflect very well on MSU for years to come. 


So often it’s the skill players that become the biggest role models to younger players, and with “me-first” players like Terrell Owens and Randy Moss, it’s refreshing to see a player who is not only a star on the field, but carries himself so well off the field. 


In a “me-first” era, we should all be thankful that “team-first” players like Ringer still exist.  We should all look forward to seeing what he does on and off the field for the rest of the season.