Top-10 Running Backs in College Football History

The greatest ball-carriers

10) Tony Dorsett

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Tony Dorsett had an outstanding career at Pittsburgh and truly left his mark as he is in the top five all-time rushing leaders in college football history. He also led the program to national prominence in the mid-1970’s.

Dorsett and Pittsburgh’s best year came in 1976 season, as Dorsett not only won the Heisman, but Pittsburgh won the national championship as well.

During the 1976 season, Dorsett rushed for 1,948 yards and 23 touchdowns.

9) Ricky Williams

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Despite having his career rushing record eventually broken, Ricky Williams ended his college career as the NCAA’s leading rusher. During the 1998 season, Williams rushed for 2,427 yards and 30 touchdowns and won the Heisman Trophy.

Williams had incredible strength and vision and was one of the best backs the college game has seen.

8) Jim Brown

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Jim Brown was not only an outstanding football player but a great running back.  Brown was one of the players that helped pave the way for other African American football players.

During his time in college, Brown played for Syracuse and had a couple of seasons go by that he should have won the Heisman but did not. His performance ultimately gave way to Ernie Davis, who was able to earn the award.

7) Earl Campbell

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On top of being named the Heisman Trophy winner in 1977, he led the nation in rushing with 1,744 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also led the Longhorns to the National Championship game, but came up short against Notre Dame.

Campbell was also named a consensus All-American and named the most outstanding player in the Southwest Conference.

6) O.J. Simpson

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O.J. Simpson was a stud on the field.  Rushing for USC, Simpson had an amazing season in 1968.

Behind 1,880 yards and 23 touchdowns, Simpson was not only named the Heisman Trophy winner but won in a landslide, winning by 1,750 points. Would probably rate even higher had he played more than two years at USC.

5) Bo Jackson

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Bo Jackson was a freak of an athlete, but his story will always have people wondering, “What if?” Despite having to leave a few games, Jackson rushed for 1,786 yards and 17 touchdowns in 1985 and won the Heisman Trophy.

Jackson who made Auburn football relevant again in the state of Alabama would see his promising pro football career end in 1990 when he suffered a hip injury.

4) Archie Griffin

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Only one player has won the Heisman Trophy more than once, and that player was Ohio State’s Archie Griffin.

Griffin won the award in both 1974 and 1975, but 1974 was by far his better season.  He rushed for 1,695 yards and 12 touchdowns and had over 100 yards rushing in every regular season game.

He ended up with 5,177 yards and that puts him in the top 10 for rushing yards.

3) Red Grange

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Red Grange was certainly in a class of his own during his era. Grange played at the University of Illinois and came to be known as The Galloping Ghost.

During his time with the program, Grange would routinely put up big days on the ground and would find his way to the end zone on a regular basis.

In the end nobody did more to make the game of college football popular than Red Grange did.

2) Barry Sanders

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Barry Sanders was an incredible college running back and had an unbelievable season in 1988.

Sanders set the single-season record for rushing with 2,628 yards and also had 3,248 yards total, 234 points and 39 touchdowns.

During the season, Sanders also averaged over 200 yards per game and had four games in which he rushed for 300 yards.

It’s hard to argue that 1988 wasn’t one of the best seasons a college football player has ever had and that Sanders isn’t one of the best the college game has ever seen.

1) Herschel Walker

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Herschel Walker was a dominant athlete throughout his career and truly shined at the University of Georgia. Walker led the Bulldogs to a National Championship with a win over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl.

After a tremendous season in 1981, in which he posted career highs in yards and touchdowns, Walker came into 1982 with high expectations.

He didn’t disappoint, as he rushed for 1,752 yards and 17 touchdowns and capped off the year with the Heisman Trophy.

Walker finished his career with 5,259 yards rushing, good enough to be in the top 10 rushers in college football history.

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