Big Ten: Tim Biakabutuka
|AP Photo/Al Goldis|
|Javon Ringer has emerged as the top back in the Big Ten.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
If Dan Enos wasn't a reliable source, you wouldn't believe him.
How could Michigan State's Javon Ringer possibly ask to come out of a game?
Ringer is becoming the Kevin Bacon of running backs, doing it all at a feverish pace for the Spartans in the first three games this season. The 5-foot-9, 202-pound senior already has 104 carries, 25 more than any other FBS running back. He leads the nation in both rushing touchdowns (9) and scoring (18 ppg), ranks third in rushing (166 ypg) and fourth in all-purpose yards (327.7 ypg). Plus, he returns kickoffs for the Spartans, averaging 22.2 yards per return.
Notre Dame is the next team to get a heavy dose of Ringer on Saturday at Spartan Stadium (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).
"He's truly a workhorse," Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis said.
Such a Herculean workload affords few respites, but Ringer sneaked one in last week against Florida Atlantic, a game in which he set career highs for carries (43) and rushing yards (282). After catching a screen pass in the fourth quarter that was nullified by a holding penalty, Ringer spotted Enos on the sideline.
"He looked over at me like, 'Coach, how bout this one?'" Enos said."He just kind of gave me that look. It was funny. So we got him out on that one. When he comes over, I'm like, 'Get some water. Catch your breath. Because you're not going to be standing here very long.'"
While backs on other Big Ten teams compete for carries, Ringer has the luxury -- or burden, depending on how you view it -- of knowing that he'll get the ball as much as he possibly can handle it. The Spartans have other runners available -- Andre Anderson, A.J. Jimmerson and Ashton Leggett, to name three -- but they don't hide their intention to feature Ringer.
"When you've got a guy with his ability," Enos said, "as many as times he's got the ball in his hands, we feel it makes us a better team."