I thought I would spend a little time during the summer and write a series of articles about some of the marque players who will be wearing the blue and gold this year. What better way to kick off the series then by starting with a guy who has marque built right into his name... Chris Markey!
Chris will be a true senior this year and this is his second season as the starting tailback for the Bruins. Markey started all 13 games last season and he has a been a very durable and dependable player in the backfield. He lead the team in rushing yards and receptions last season and the running back was named UCLA's co-MVP along with an All-Pac-10 honorable mention. He will likely be a key component in the offense for 2007.
I would call Markey a meat-and-potatoes kind of running back. He isn't going to blind you with his speed or knock you over with his size, but he is a durable, consistent, blue-collar kind of player. He has good hands and is a solid and dependable receiver coming out of the backfield.
I was surprised, at the end of last season, to see that Markey had racked up over 1,100 yards with an average of 4.9 yards a carry. Those numbers were good enough to rank him 4th in the PAC-10. It didn't seem like he was always an impact player each game, but he consistently contributed to the offense and he compiled a pretty impressive set of stats along the way.
One number that wasn't so hot, was the number of touchdowns Chris scored. He had an anemic two touchdowns for the whole season. That's an almost unbelievably low number considering that he had 227 carries and 35 receptions. The Bruins definitely missed the big play making ability that Maurice Drew brought to the position in 2005. This year Markey is going to have to step up his game and find a way to take the ball to the house if UCLA is going to compete for the conference title.
Chris came to Westwood from Jesuit High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was not a highly rated recruit after his Senior season at Jesuit (both Rivals and Scout gave him 3-stars), but he was named the Louisiana Class 5A State offensive MVP and the New Orleans City Player of the Year. Chris was a star athlete in high school and he competed in Track and Basketball ,earning all district honors in both of those sports.
Markey had his first breakout game during his freshman year when the Bruins faced the Ducks up at Eugene, Oregon. Chris was the 3rd string tailback at the time, behind Maurice Drew and Manuel White Jr. When Drew injured an ankle the prior week against Washington State, Markey had a chance to prove he could be a star on offense. He racked up 131 yards on the ground, and also lead the team in receptions with 84 yards, and his stellar performance propelled the Bruins to an upset victory.
His sophomore season would also provide an opportunity to get into the spot light, this time in the Sun Bowl against the Northwestern Wildcats. Maurice Drew was injured again, this time early in the game. Chris, and 3rd string running back Kahlil Bell, picked up the running responsibilities and both ran for over 100 yards that day. Markey averaged almost 7 yards a touch, and he was named co-MVP for the game. Here's a great highlight video of the 2005 Sun Bowl, which includes Markey putting together a 50 yard scramble.
In his first two years at Westwood, Markey was responsible for kick returns. Against San Diego State, his sophomore year, he had a spectacular return. He caught the ball on the 5 yard line and he juked and jived his way through a swarm of defenders. The greatest part was the two stiff arms he threw at the end of the drive that absolutely planted the Aztec players to the ground.
His Junior year, he put on a running clinic against the Rice Owls. The prior week, the Bruins hadn't run the ball very well, and Markey was challenged by coach Dorrell to prove he could step-up as the starting tailback for the Bruins. He amassed a career high of 208 rushing yards and he averaged almost a first down (9.0 yards) every time he touched the ball.
At the start of this year's spring practice, Chris injured his foot and he missed almost the entire camp. The injury wasn't serious and Markey was kept out of practice as a precautionary measure. He should be back and ready to go for the fall camp and the start of the season.
This should be a big year for the Louisiana native. With a new offense and a rusty quarterback at the helm, the Bruins are going to depend on their experienced senior tail back to help carry the team at the start of the season. He's been a consistent and dependable back in his time at UCLA, but now Chris needs to show that he can be a big play maker as well.
(photo credit: Seattle PI)