Running Back University  

Posted by Walter

I thought choosing this one would be the hardest of all......and in a way it was. However, the only hard part I encountered was choosing one of the fairly obvious two finalists for this honor. There have been so many good backs and therefore there are a ton of schools that have produced numerous pro bowl caliber players. Schools like Miami (Edge, Portis, McGahee) and Ohio State (Eddie George, Keith Byars, Robert Smith) predictably had a fair stake to the best ever argument. However, there are two schools that have really outdone the field in terms of producing NFL running backs.

Runner Up - University of Georgia (Herschel Walker, Rodney Hampton, Garrison Hearst, Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary, Robert Edwards)

Really, the only thing preventing Georgia from being the runaway winner as Running Back University is some crummy luck. Before injuries curtailed what appeared to be a hall of fame career, Terrell Davis was hands down the best back of the 1990's as evidenced by his 2000 yard rushing season. Robert Edwards was another promising Bulldog prospect who rushed for over 1000 yards as a Patriots rookie before tearing up his knee at a stupid Pro Bowl beach football game. Herschel Walker was perhaps the most talented back ever, but fell victim to the money and allure of the USFL and then walked into a no-win situation when Minnesota traded their entire draft for him. Still, virtually every starting back for the University of Georgia since the mid 1980's has gone on to star in the NFL. Overall the Georgia backs listed above have accounted for 9 pro bowl appearances, 16 1000 yard rushing seasons, and 3 super bowl titles. Rodney Hampton, perhaps the most underrated of the bunch, ripped off 5 straight 1000 yard seasons in the 1980's as the primary back for the Giants. But it should be noted, if not for the major injuries to Davis (who I still think is a hall of famer), Edwards, and Olandis Gary, those already impressive numbers would be much higher, and this would be a runaway for the Bulldogs.

My Selection - Auburn (Bo Jackson, James Brooks, Stephen Davis, Rudi Johnson, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Fred Beasley, Tony Richardson)

Like Georgia, Auburn has both the 1980's and 1990's covered. However, unlike Georgia, Auburn has three back in the league right now in Johnson, Williams, and Brown who are ready to play at a pro bowl level. Also like Georgia, Auburn's already impressive numbers would be a lot more impressive had their top player not suffered a debilitating injury. Anyone who has ever seen Bo Jackson play (or played the original Tecmo Bowl) understands just how great he was, and just how much football fans missed out on because of his injury. Still, in 38 career games ( just over two full seasons) Jackson ammassed nearly 2800 yards, averaging an amazing 5.4 yards per carry for his career. James Brooks, a vastly underrated pro, rushed for 1000 yards three times in the 1980's and managed 4 pro bowl invitations. However, it is the 1990's and 2000's where Auburn really takes off. Stephen Davis was one of the best backs in the last 10 years with 4 1000 yard seasons including 3 at over 1400 yards. Rudi Johnson has ripped off two straight 1400 yard 10 td seasons, and both Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams are ready to explode into perrenial all pros. Auburn even gets credit for producing two of the top fullbacks in the NFL in Fred Beasley and Tony Richardson. Beasley was a long time weapon as a blocker, reciever and rusher in the 49er's West Coast offense, and Tony Richardson has paved the way for some of the preeminent rushing seasons of this generation by Priest Holmes and more recently by Larry Johnson.


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