Top 10 Greatest College Football Running Backs

The Top Ten
1 Barry Sanders Barry Sanders is a former American football running back who spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League.

Bo Jackson won the 1985 heisman with 1786 yards on 278 carries, which is a 6.4 avg. Barry won the 88 heisman with 2850 yards on 373 carries, which is a 7.6 avg. Oh and he had 42 TD's. He averaged 237.5 yards per game. And that was one season. His lowest yards per carry average was against Nebraska at 5.4. Nebraska was up 42-0 less than 19 minutes into the game and won 63-42 thanks to Barry running for 4 TD's.

In comparison, In 1981 Herschel Walker had 385 carries for 1891 yards and 18 Td's. This was his best season and he averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Barry had 18 TD's in his final 5 games of the 88 season. If you include the bowl game, he had 5 more for a total of 23 in 6 games! And for good measure he averaged 7.81 yards per carry for a total of 1694 yards. In those 6 games, he AVERAGED 282 yards per game. That's running the ball not throwing. These numbers are hard to duplicate in a video game!

To put into perspective just how good Barry was, in 2017 there was a post ...more

Dude... Really, broke all those records in 88... And most of them still stand...25 years after! Most 200 yard games in a season, most 300 yard games in a season, most tds in a season, only really played one year of college... That was just a preview of the greatest running back in the nfl... That whole 88 season was nothing but a highlight reel!

Herschel was great, but he had way more talent around him. Georgia was always in the national title mix. Barry's Oklahoma State teams were really good, but always finished behind Oklahoma and Nebraska. Barry basically carried the Cowboys to 9-10 wins each season.

Best RUNNING back ever. There may have been better backs at blocking, receiving, etc. but NO ONE was as quick, shifty, and elusive as Barry. Created the art of running from the tailback position. Look at his career #'s playing for a crap team w/a crap O line...imagine his #'s on a good team?

2 Herschel Walker Herschel Walker is a former professional American football player, bobsledder, sprinter and mixed martial artist.

Just look at his aggregrate Heisman trophy votes during his entire career. He came in third his firts year, second his second year and won it his third year. Over three years I'm not sure you can say that about the other leaders. Barry Sanders had one great year and was a backup his Fresh and Soph years. Marcus DuPree had talent no doubt, but to put him over Herschel.. Come on man.. This is not a vote on potential but actual accomplishments. Bo gets compared to Hershel all the time because they both played similar, wore #34 and in the SEC. The truth is Bo may have been the overall better athlete with consideration to his baseball accomplishments.. But those shouldn't weigh in on the RB arguement. "oh you Herschel Walker! "

I was blessed to watch Herschel play at UGA! I was a senior when he came to town. His freshman year was, I think his best. I had never seen such speed and power combined. He was a man playing with boys at the age of 18! And he was a humble and truly nice guy. I remember the first time I met him his HS QB; and a friend of mine, was driving him to class in his jeep, they saw me and said jump in. I did and Herschel turned to me and said hello my name is Herschel. I said yeah I know, who doesn't?

I've watch football my while life and played on some damn good team. RB was my primary position.
I grew up in Michigan so Barry will alwYs be my favorite but I must say I HAVE NEVER seen any back
More dominate than Hershal. Say what you will about Barry and Dupree but youll be just making excuses. Hershall an unstoppable force. From the moment he stepped on the feild as a freshman against Tennesee it was apprent to all that he could not be contained by any team. By far the most dominating devestating back to ever do it. Records be damned. I'm sorry.

Herschel was a good receiver, but teams didn't throw much to backs in the pro set back then. He was tough too. Look at the Sugar bowl against and, he dislocated his shoulder the first play from scrimmage. They took him aside, popped it back in, and he returned to rush for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns against a salty and defense.

3 Tony Dorsett

The most underrated GREAT running back in history. You NEVER hear his name mentioned in the discussions of the best all time runners and that is a crime. People dismiss the fact that he was the all time leading rusher when he left college and 2nd all time leading rusher when he left the NFL. They also overlook the fact that he had incredible toughness and durability for a 180 lbs running back - kickers are bigger than that these days.

Agree with everything said about Tony "D". My favorite RB of all time by far. Watching the 1976 season was really my first infatuation with football whereas TD broke a long run every game. Sitting and waiting to see it to happen was just as much of a thrill as it was watching it happen!

Dorsett revolutionized the college game for his era when power backs were the rage. In the pros in the 1970s, he and Terry Metcalf proved that small backs in a versatile offense were the future. Metcalf begat Dorsett who begat Joe Washington who begat Thurman thomas and Barry Sanders, etc.

He held the NCAA rushing record for 20 years. First guy to win a national title, heisman and be super bowl champion. Is in the college and NFL hall of fames. Great speed and burst and his ability to cut at full speed was 2nd to none.

4 Bo Jackson Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson is a former baseball and American football player. He is the only athlete in history to be named an All-Star in both baseball and football, and one of few to do so in two major sports.

No one had the combination of power, blinding speed, moves, and the ability to be solid in pro baseball, arm strength, homeruns, stealing bases hitting curve ball...only thing he didn't do was kickoff and punt returns, didn't need to. ESPN got it right..G.O.A.T. watch out for Fournette/Lau. Power, speed, moves, returns kickoff s

Bo n Mr. Dupree, man among men, neither really trained, just god given mixes of size, strength, speed and smarts... Bo ran a 4.1 40 yard dash at a NFL combine, still a record to this day. Bo's entrance into the NFL was a "hobby" to keep him from getting bored in the MLB off-season... Not enough can be said about him in his college days, his stories are bunyonesque...

Had he taken the path of pure football I think he would hold every record possible. He was as strong as Earl Campbell, faster than McFadden, and had amazing stamina. It has to be either him or Herschel for #1

Bo should be #1 and here is why: the defenses he played against were infinitely better than the ones Barry or DuPree played. and he ran a 4.12 not a 4.31 for those of you who hate Bo's swag.

5 Marcus DuPree

The greatest combo of strength, size, speed, awareness ever.. He didn't play as long as these others, but what he did when he played at full health was the best ever. Bo, Barry, Ron, Herschel had better stories, careers, etc. , but this boy topped them all and doing it behind a weak offense, He is all they had that freshman year of 1982. And of course a still standing for decades fiesta bowl record for rushing. And he played in only half the game. Go see the highlights on the net. He was only at 50 percent with that hamstring problem. These other running backs below couldn't do half that with Marcus's injuries. These other RBs had good QBs and WRs. OU didn't. So boo yah to all the haters with this argument. Cased closed. Smoke em if you got em.

Herschel walker fans need to educate themselves. Dupree broke all of his high school records. Plus, Georgia had all the talent in the sec from 81 to 83. Marcus and ou didn't in the big 8. But if you still haten, go see marcus run on Missouri and Nebraska and Arizona state in his freshman seasonin 1982. Go watch his highlight reel in the 1983 fiesta bowl. Arizona state had the #1 defense and marcus made them look like bottom feeders. Only playing a half. Injured, only at 50 percent, no o line, no QB. Give me a break Georgia. And okla state fans, didn't barry have the best big 8 QB in mike gundy? Best WR hart lee dykes? Give me a break cowboy fans. And reggie bush fans please. He had more talent helping him than any body on this list. PLEASE...

I saw Herschel. I saw Barry. I saw Bo. All GREAT RBs. But when I saw Marcus in 1982, I must say I never saw another like him. He had Strength and Speed that both Bo and Herschel had. The difference is he had running ability, not quite Barry's instincts and moves but this dude could cut, make you miss and frankly he was "The Total Package. " NO ONE else has ever done it as well.

He was 6,4" 235, and ran the 100 yard dash in 10 seconds. Not to mention he benched 400 lbs as a RB in highschool. Throughout his career he played on teams which were not powerful in and of themselves, and relied on him for a majority of offensive production, and on his back, he took many teams to glory.

6 LaDainian Tomlinson LaDainian Tramayne Tomlinson is a former professional American football player who was a running back in the National Football League for eleven seasons.

He owns one of the best games in college football history. No doubt he should be on this list

Ok we are talking about College right?
This guy was electrifying in College!

7 Marcus Allen

Marcus wad a definite first fun when you need it. He was so smooth. Not considered fast and strong but heard to catch. Slashing though the defense. Did I mention he could catch and throw.

A tragedy this great football athlete is underrated at the collegiate level as well as the pro level.

a graceful runner leaving you amazed. just ask the Washington Redskins!

Marcus was the business! 200 yard games, 300 yard games, and mostly played as a back up his first two years.

Not a fan of the school and a Michigan fan but Allen and the oj amazing.

8 Earl Campbell Earl Christian Campbell is a former American football running back who played professionally in the National Football League for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints.

"No question one of the greatest running backs of all time... He was big and fast, WOW... That's all you can say about this guy.

Out of all the RBs on this list--while he may not be the best--he IS the one I would least like to try and tackle in the open field.

Besides Bo and Herschel, Earl Campbell is the next best.

Enjoyed watching this big running back - one of a kind.

9 Reggie Bush Reginald Alfred "Reggie" Bush Jr. is an American football running back who is currently on the Buffalo Bills roster.

Every time he touched the ball he made at least one guy miss... He was never tackled by the first guy... And if he gets into the open field it's an automatic 6

He shared time and still was incredible. Imagine if he was the only back they used.

He is finished. No mor juice left. The steroids tore him up.

Was great to see on T.V. always electrifying

10 O.J. Simpson Orenthal James Simpson (born July 9, 1947), nicknamed "The Juice", is an American former football running back, broadcaster, actor, advertising spokesman, and convicted felon. Once a popular figure with the U.S. public, he is now best known for being tried for the murders of his former wife, Nicole more.

O.J. simpson was a great running back throughout his college and professional career, but he is an awful person. Even though he was not convicted or murder, that is still what most people attach his name to and he will never be able to shake that one off. Really a shame considering how great of a player he was

Oj didn't do it but he did know who did Al Cowings or his Landscaper. The Juice is loose. Howard Cosell would say that on Monday night football halftime highlights. Just like Marcus Allen the best all around back can catch, throw block but a little faster than Marcus. Go to youtube and watch battle of the stars and see his 100 yard dash. World class speed.

Yes! It is a shame that O J Simpson was allegedly accused of murder! But you can never take away something that was already accomplished! No doubt that O J was the best running back of all time! He did what he did against the best in College during his time! Period!

Too bad everyone gets to vote on these things. You should have to take an IQ Test or something. This is horrible. I think O.J. was the best COLLEGE back of all-time, but even if he wasn't the best, there is no way he should be this low.

The Contenders
11 Ricky Williams Errick Lynne "Ricky" Williams Jr. is a retired American football running back who played twelve seasons in the National Football League and one season in the Canadian Football League.

Respect to all previously stated other than Reggie Bush. He was a track star that could catch the ball out of the backfield, not a RB. Smh at you guys that think he even deserves to be mentioned with these guys. Ricky top 3 hands down, broke all their records, they knew he was gettin it, it didn't matter

I almost didn't comment because this list is so uninformed. But Ricky Williams is by far a Top 5 rb in college football history. Over 2000 rushing yards his final two college seasons speak for himself.

Should be top 3 at least, maybe best ever (modern era).

Yes he's a trouble but look at the guys talent!

12 Billy Sims

Better than Barry Sanders period. If he never got hurt he would be one if the best. Back when he got injured you were considered done. So again if he played today he would have footmen good treatment and hopped back on the Lion. Rick Kane was the man for the Lions until Billy showed up. Rick Kane played at Amador high in Pleasanton ca and San Jose st and Oregon before Detroit pick him up. Also a track Star. Talented!

Really, number 43... Really. Your list is suspect. DuPree at 3? He is a "what if" story. I don't care what he did in high school. If that counts check up on Sims stats from Hooks Tx.

Billy Sims was a 220 pounder with Barry Sanders moves with Earl Campbell power. How could he not be top ten. Come on now!

Billy deserves to be in the Top 10. Great running back and one of the most fun to watch ever!

13 Darren McFadden

Pure power when he runs, he hits the hole as he was being timed in the 40 dash.

Power, strength, agile. The hardest hole hitter ever.

Really? Who is this guy? What did he ever do?

14 Charles White

Awesome in College. Out did Billiy Sims and got the heismmman. Another player not used correctly. Wasted talent. It took 10 years of part time playing and his old college Coach believing in him and what does he do? He led the NFL in rushing however he was back in the powder and out of the league. Real sad!

15 Emmitt Smith Emmitt James Smith III is a former college and professional American football running back who became the National Football League's all-time leading rusher during his fifteen seasons in the league during the 1990s and 2000s.

He played for best team

No one caught him 22

16 Archie Griffin

This list is so messed up its not even funny. How do you have a running back with 2 heisman and he is 7?!

I think he is the best player who ever played the Game.

Are you serious? The only player in his class!

He is the greatest football player ever.

17 Eric Dickerson Eric Demetric Dickerson is a former college and professional American football player who was a running back in the National Football League for eleven seasons during the 1980s and 1990s.

Go to youtube type in Darrel green catches Dickerson. Wow Darell green is is so fast he caught Dickerson from the side of the field and was 25 yards behind when he chased him down..

Butter fingers in trying to catch the ball out if the backfield.

The pony express actually Craig James was the starter!

Best back of LA was Marcus Allen and he played for the cross town rivals the Oak. la Raiders

18 Mike Rozier

Rozier was the best, based on stats vs. actual playing time. Most of the time Osborne would take him out in the 3Q once the Huskers had a comfortable lead �" yet his stats are just as good as guys on this list who played all four quarters.

Take his Heisman season and put it against ANY of these running backs. Rozier was the best!

Just look at his stats vs playing time.

One of the best running backs ever!

19 Marshall Faulk Marshall William Faulk is a former college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for twelve seasons.

He compiled one of the greatest freshman seasons in NCAA history, gaining 1,429 yards rushing, with 23 total touchdowns (21 rushing), and 140 points scored. In one game he rushed for 386 yards and 7 TD's

Should be up higher

20 Ron Dayne

I saw the Great Dane not even play in the fourth qtr of a lot of his games,... And he still has the most yes of ALL TIME...

He was the best badger running back of all time. and the best freshman running back of all time( other than Jonathan Taylor)

21 Adrian Peterson Adrian Lewis Peterson is an American football running back who originally played for the Minnesota Vikings and currently plays for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League.

His freshman year, 2004, was greatest any freshman has produced. His power, speed, and phenomenal vision were as good as the game's ever seen! Peterson has been great at every level since he first picked up a football.

Even though he was injured he was still undoubtedly a top ten college back of all time, go look at his highlight reel. It's better than any other player's.

22 Nick Chubb

Nick Chubb is a beast he can truck like no other person.

23 Red Grange Harold Edward "Red" Grange, nicknamed "The Galloping Ghost" or "The Galloping Red Ghost", was a college and professional American football halfback for the University of Illinois, the Chicago Bears, and for the short-lived New York Yankees.

Should be number 1

24 Leonard Fournette Leonard Joseph Fournette III is an American football running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League.
25 Larry Johnson Larry Alphonso Johnson, Jr. is a former American football running back in the National Football League.
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