In the long history of college football, there have been countless schools that have produced elite running backs on a regular basis. There are a few schools that have struggled to find enough carries for each running back on the roster because they’ve had so many at one time. In fact, there are probably a dozen or two schools that could claim that they deserve the nickname “Running Back U.” Alas, we’ve picked out the best of the best, narrowing down the list of colleges that deserve that moniker.
The fact that Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry both won the Heisman helped push Alabama into the top-5. In fairness, Trent Richardson was a bust in the NFL after a great college career. However, before Nick Saban returned Alabama to prominence, the Crimson Tide had Shaun Alexander, who once won NFL MVP honors. The recent crop of Kenyan Drake, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, and Josh Jacobs also helps Alabama’s case in the Running Back U conversation.
The Badgers have pushed their way into the top-5 running back school based largely on recent history. Wisconsin currently owns a record five Doak Walker winners after Jonathan Taylor won the award in both 2018 and 2019. Before him, there was Melvin Gordon, Montee Ball, and Heisman winner Ron Dayne. The Badgers also get a little credit for fullback Alan Ameche, who won the Heisman in 1954. There was also no shortage of great Wisconsin backs in between Ameche and Dayne, giving the Badgers a lot of history at that position.
Technically, Ohio State has had five running backs who won the Heisman, although they lose some points because only one has won it since Archie Griffin in 1975. In any event, Griffin and Eddie George is a tandem that’s hard to match. We also can’t forget Keith Byars or recent additions like Ezekiel Elliott and Carlos Hyde.
The likes of Heisman winners Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams are just the tip of the iceberg for Texas running backs. Backs like Cedric Benson and D’Onta Foreman, who both won the Doak Walker Award, can’t be overlooked. Texas also gets credit for Jamaal Charles, Priest Holmes, and Eric Metcalf, as well as Chris Gilbert and Roosevelt Leaks if you want to go back in time a little bit.
It may not seem like it recently, but historically, no school can match USC’s stable of running backs. The Trojans have had five different backs take home the Heisman Trophy. Granted, Reggie Bush had his vacated and OJ Simpson had other off-field issues, but that doesn’t change what they accomplished on the field. Even when you take away the rest of the Heisman contingent in Mike Garrett, Marcus Allen, and Charles White, the likes of LenDale White, Anthony Davis, Joe McKnight, Ricky Bell, and others are too much for any other school to beat.