Anytime you would like to start a good argument among sports fans, just offer up your list of the Best 10 of anything of all time. I promise at least one person will not agree with your list, and try to top it with theirs. Today I am going to list the best 10 college running backs of all time.
I am a stats guy so I look at yards and touchdowns. But I also look at impact on the game. So here is my own list of college football's best running backs of all time. You may not agree with my list, but just remember I am right and you are wrong!
1- Tony Dorsett was a Heisman winner in 1976 at Pitt. He also was the first college running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in all 4 seasons he played. He had 1,133 rushing attempts for 6,082 yards and 58 touchdowns. Anthony Drew Dorsett was astonishing for a smaller running back at 5-11 and 185 pounds. But he was a speed demon, seldom if ever being run down from behind. After helping Pitt, win a national championship he went on to become a pretty good pro back for the Dallas Cowboys. He is in both the college and pro football hall of fames.
2- Ron Dayne was just a dominating power back for Wisconsin for 4 seasons. When he graduated, Ron "The Great Dayne" owned the NCAA career rushing mark. Ron Dayne is in my opinion the second best college running back ever. He rushed for 6,443 yards and 63 touchdowns. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1999 and is one of 4 players to win the MVP of the Rose Bowl, twice.
3- Red "Galloping Ghost" Grange changed the game of football forever that was how good he was. After
he left Illinois he gave respect to a then struggling pro game. But he was one hell of a college running back. In only 20 games he rushed for 3,362 yards and 31 touchdowns. In one game against Chicago in 1924, he ran for 300 yards and passed for 177! His combined yards for high school, college and pro's were over 33,000.
4- Ricky Williams lit up the University of Texas and the NCAA record books. He set a then career rushing record of 6,279 yards and also rushing touchdown and point records with 73 and 452. He was capable of either running over or around would be tacklers. He ran for over 200 yards in a game, 12 times. He won the Heisman and has gone on to have a decent but troubled NFL career.
5- Archie Griffin is the only player in the history of college football to win the Heisman Trophy twice! This guarantees him a spot on the best college running backs of all time list. He was an icon at Ohio State, playing for the legendary coach Woody Hayes. Archie led the big 10 in rushing for 3 straight seasons, and rushed for 5,589 yards. He scored only 26 touchdowns or he would be higher, but he was a dominating back. He started in 4 straight Rose Bowls and Ohio State was 40-5-1 in his time there.
Six through ten is where it gets personal. I am throwing out the stats and I am going with excitement and what they brought to the game.
6- Hershel Walker meant more to his team than any running back on the board. During his Georgia career, the Bulldogs went 33-3 and won the SEC Title each year. But, his individual records say a lot too. Walker broke 11 NCAA; 16 Southeastern Conference (SEC); and, 41 University of Georgia (UGA) all-time football records. Herschel only stayed three years at Georgia. But, in that time he gained 5,259 yards which was the most yards ever gained in a three year NCAA football career. Herschel Walker was a first team all-American each of his 3 years at Georgia.
7- Charles White made a name for himself rushing for 858 yards and 10 touchdowns in his freshman year as a backup. With the job all White's, he ran for 1,478 yards in his sophomore year, 1,859 in his junior season and 2,050 in his senior year for a Pac 10 record 6,245 yards setting the record after just his junior season. The NCAA doesn't count bowl games, but he finished his career #2 with 5,598 regular season yards. During his career, he set or tied 22 NCAA, Pac 10, USC and Rose Bowl records
8- Barry Sanders was a culmination of speed and elusiveness. When talking about Sanders all you need to talk about is 1988. Simply because that is the only year he was the full time starter since he backed up Thurman Thomas for two seasons. In 1988 Sanders Rushing Statistics are as follows: 373 rushes, 2,850 yards, 42 TDs. Sanders also had 19 catches for 109 yards, 21 Kick returns for 421 yards and 1TD, and 10 punt returns for 94 yards and 1TD. Undoubtedly the most gifted running back to play the game with his ability to change direction and accelerate out of the cut.
9- Earl Campbell was the most powerful running back to ever play the game period. With 4,443 NCAA yards and 41 touchdowns in his career as a Longhorn, it was inevitable that Earl Campell was the top contender for the prestigious Heisman award. Campbell received many awards such as All SWC for three years and was named to the Bob Hope All-American team for two consecutive years. 1977 was a successful year for Earl with an impressive 1,744 rushing yards, 800 of those being yards after contact or YAC. Campbells running style led to a brief but productive NFL career and a lot of physical problems including brain injuries at a young age.
T10- Troy Davis had to make this list. Davis attended Iowa State University, where he set school records for total rushing yards (4,382), total rushing yards in a single season (2,185) and rushing yards in a game (378). He also holds the Iowa State University record for most career rushing touchdowns (36) and is tied for first for most career total touchdowns (38). He became the first running back in NCAA history to gain 2,000 yards in two different seasons.
T10- LaDainian Tomlinson has probably been the most successful running back in college since 2000. In his senior season in 2000, Tomlinson led the NCAA for the second time with 2,158 yards and 22 touchdowns while adding 354 yards receiving. He won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back, and was a finalist for the Heisman, but came in fourth. He completed his college career with 5,263 rushing yards, ranking sixth in NCAA Division I history.