No. 2: Mississippi State football running back Jo’quavious “Woody” Marks:
Jo’quavious “Woody” Marks split his halfback load with Dillon Johnson and Simeon Price, rushing for 582 yards on 113 carries in his 2022 campaign. Johnson rushed for 488 yards on 89 carries and Price had 150 yards with 30 carries.
This year, Woody will see himself as the true #1 running back for the Bulldogs. Marks is a dynamic player, with an inept ability to squeeze himself through tight gaps in the line, and also gain yards after contact. He also has the ability to catch passes from Rogers out of the backfield, putting up impressive numbers in 2022 with 48 receptions and 288 yards.
A breakout year for Marks depends on two major questions:
#1: How well will Mississippi State’s offensive front line transition from pass blocking mentality to a more run-first and downhill blocking scheme?
#2: Will Marks’ be able to stay completely healthy throughout the 2023 season?
The new mentality for the Bulldogs offensive line is a question that fans and media have been asking ever since Kevin Barbay was hired as offensive coordinator for Mississippi State. They will need to be able to handle these huge SEC defensive fronts we all know and love, opening up rushing lanes for Marks to get past the initial tackle box and really let his speed and agility be at full force.
Marks did not sustain a major injury in 2022, but he did tend to get banged up at inopportune times for the Bulldogs, resulting in some of the running back reps getting put on Dillon Johnson or Simeon Price.
If Woody can battle through the normal cuts and bruises that come with playing football in the SEC, I believe he can be a key factor in production for Mississippi State. I predict Marks to rush for 700-800 yards in 2023, but 1,000 yards should be the goal.
Marks scored 9 touchdowns on the ground last season, but in a “breakout” season, he could easily rush for 13 or even 15 touchdowns. Those numbers would be absolutely massive for the overall success of the Bulldogs in 2023.