Top 5 College Running Backs of All Time

Top 5 College Running Backs of All Time

#5 Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State 1986 - 1988)


• Rushing Attempts: 523
• Rushing Yards: 3,556
• Rushing Touchdowns: 48
• Receptions: 23
• Receiving Yards: 164
• All-American: 1x
• Heisman: 1988

I know what you're thinking: How could this guy snub the great Barry Sanders? Well, let me explain - 1) Barry didn't get snubbed, making the top 5 is a big deal! 2) He was great, but not the greatest (in college). Football fans need to separate his professional greatness from his college greatness. 3) If you think Barry is the GOAT running back in the NFL, you won't get an argument from me. But his impact on the college game just doesn't rival that of Archie Manning or Herschel Walker. 

#4 Tony Dorsett (Pittsburgh 1973 - 1976)

• Rushing Attempts: 1,163
• Rushing Yards: 6,526
• Rushing Touchdowns: 59
• Receptions: 42
• Receiving Yards: 415
• All-American: 1x
• Heisman: 1976

Tony Dorsett was as smooth as he was strong. His strides were elegant but impactful. Pittsburgh has not been home to an athlete as talented as Dorsett in four decades. 


#3 Ricky Williams (Texas 1995-1998)

Photo Credit: AP/Express-News

• Rushing Attempts: 1,011
• Rushing Yards: 6,279
• Rushing Touchdowns: 72
• Receptions: 85
• Receiving Yards: 927
• All-American: 2x
• Heisman: 1998

Ricky Williams was a throwback in the 90s. He ran with a grit and toughness that was not typical of backs in his era. He stood out for this reason. His combination of power and speed made him unstoppable. 


#2 Archie Griffin (Ohio State 1972 - 1975)

• Rushing Attempts: 924
• Rushing Yards: 5,589
• Rushing Touchdowns: 26
• Receptions: 30
• Receiving Yards: 350
• All-American: 2x
• Heisman: 1974

Arguably the greatest of all time, Archie Griffin is the back you think of when you know one yard is needed. Griffin was the original workhorse. Griffin nearly carried the ball nearly 1,000 times and still managed to break tackles in the fourth quarter. 


#1 Herschel Walker (Georgia 1980 - 1982)

• Rushing Attempts: 994
• Rushing Yards: 5,259
• Rushing Touchdowns: 49
• Receptions: 26
• Receiving Yards: 243
• All-American: 3x
• Heisman: 1982

The G.O.A.T. plain and simple. Herschel Walker did not run for the most yards or touchdowns, but he certainly ran harder than any other back in college football history (with the exceptions of Bo Jackson and Ron Dayne).  Walker took durability to new heights, falling just six carries short of 1,000. As a running back in the most competitive conference in college football, Walker should have been slowing down with age. Instead, like wine, his aged physique improved and would-be tacklers either fell off his hips or were stiff armed to the turf. 

Honorable Mention

Bo Jackson (Auburn)

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