When Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are selected in this year's NFL Draft, they will follow a long list of Bulldog ball carriers who have made it to the NFL. While USC is known as Tailback U, and Wisconsin has tried to own the moniker Running Back U, Georgia has proven that there's only room for one major university to own such a name, and it resides in Athens.
From 1965-81, USC won four Hesimans, all of them running backs – Mike Garrett, OJ Simpson, Charles White and Marcus Allen. USC’s historic star-studded backfield is impressive. Frank Gifford, John Arnett, Sam Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Ricky Bell, Reggie Bush and Lendale White all put up huge numbers while in Los Angeles. Since White and Bush, however, two players have rushed for over 1,100 yards, including Ronald Jones rushing for over 1,500 yards this past season.
There's no refuting the success Wisconsin has had running the football over the years. While many colleges have tinkered with their offensive schemes, the Badgers have stayed true to running the ball down the throat of its opponent. Since 1991, Wisconsin has had nine running backs rush for over 3,000 yards for their career. That includes Ron Dayne's insane 7,125 career rushing yards. None of those players have made a true mark at the professional level, however.
Georgia on the other hand has had a Heisman trophy winner and NFL MVPs, 2,000-yard rushers in the NFL and the most prolific rushing duo in college football history. Since 1980, when Herschel Walker first jumped on to the scene, no one can compare to the level of rushing prowess produced at Georgia and then transferred to the NFL.
Leaving off names like Musa Smith, Kregg Lumpkin and Isaiah Crowell, here are the top 10 running backs from Georgia.
10. Hines Ward
Long before Ward was throwing touchdown passes in the Super Bowl, winning MVP and also catching a touchdown in another Super Bowl, the Atlanta native was recruited to play running back at Georgia. As a freshman, Ward averaged 5.5 yards per carry. His sophomore season he moved to quarterback before finding his true calling as a receiver for his junior and senior season.
Over four years, Ward rushed for 1,066 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. It's anyone's guess if Ward's career numbers for the Pittsburgh Steelers will be enough to get in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he has the reputation as one of the toughest and most reliable players to ever play the position. He is one of only 14 NFL players to have at least 1,000 career receptions.
9. Robert Edwards
Edwards is near the top of the list of "what could have been" players. After rushing for 2,033 yards and a 5.2 average over his 4-year career at Georgia, New England drafted him in the first round. In his rookie year, Edwards had over 1,400 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. His career was cut short, however after tearing his ACL in a beach flag football game during Pro Bowl week.
8. Knowshown Moreno
Moreno is seventh on Georgia's all-time rushing despite only playing two years in Athens. A true, workhorse, Moreno had 2,734 rushing yards on 498 carries and 30 rushing touchdowns His 5.5 yards per carry is pretty phenomenal considering how much of a workload he received. He also caught 53 balls for 645 yards and 2 TDs.
Another Georgia running back drafted by Denver, he had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage his rookie year and finished fifth in 2013 with 1586 yards from scrimmage. Unfortunately, Moreno's career was cut short with two ACL injuries three years apart.
7. Rodney Hampton
Hampton burst onto the SEC football scene with one of the best freshman seasons ever. He broke the Georgia single-game all-purpose yards record with 290 yards (227 rushing, 28 receiving, 35 kickoff return) in his first year. That same year, he became one of only two freshman running backs in Bulldogs history to run over 200 yards.
Hampton still owns the record for the best yards per carry average as a freshman (7.06). The Giants selected Hampton in the first round in 1990 and he rushed for almost 6,0000 yards in his first six years in the league. He was part of the Super Bowl winning team that upset the Bills his rookie year.
6. Sony Michel
Michel finished third all-time on the Georgia career-rushing list after totaling 3,613 yards rushing and another 621 yards receiving. Along with Chubb, they rushed for more yards than anyone else in college football history. More than Eric Dickerson and Craig James, Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders. Many believe he will have the more successful career in the NFL of the two. Time will tell.
5. Nick Chubb
Over his four-year career, Chubb ranks second all-time at Georgia in yards (4,769), carries (758), and touchdowns (44). The only reason he is at five is because there is still unknown about how we will do at the next level. He has been compared to Mark Ingram, Todd Gurley and Frank Gore. If he lives up to any of those comparisons, he'll make whichever NFL team takes him very happy.
4. Garrison Hearst
Hearst finished third in the 1992 Heisman race after a 1,594 rushing season, the fourth best in Georgia history. He’s also one of only two running backs in Georgia's past to lead the team in rushing for three seasons. In those three years, Hearst rushed for 3,232 yards, and 33 touchdowns. Hearst had an up-and-down career in the NFL.
3. Todd Gurley
Gurley was a complete stud at Georgia in his three years. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry for 3,285 yards in just 30 games. He also had 30 touchdowns. For the Los Angeles Rams, Gurley has totaled 4,599 yards from scrimmage, including 2,093 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2017. He has all the makings of a consistent All-Pro. That, however shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who saw him every Saturday in Athens.
2. Terrell Davis
Davis did not have the most dominant rushing experience at Georgia (some say due to friction with the head coach), but he more than made up for it in the pros. After rushing for 1,657 yards in three years at Georgia, he emerged in Denver and produced one of the best stretches in NFL history.
Davis rushed for over 1,000 yards each of his first four years, including becoming one of seven running backs to run over 2,000 yards. He was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year twice, NFL MVP in 1998. He won two Super Bowls for the Broncos, and was Super Bowl MVP in 1997. He was also recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His 97.5 rushing yards per game is third best all-time in the NFL.
1. Herschel Walker
This really is no surprise. Walker is the only Georgia Heisman winner since Frank Sinkwich in 1942. Many believe Walker should have won two Heismans or more. He ran for 1,616 yards and 15 touchdowns his freshman year and 1,891 yards and 18 touchdowns his sophomore year. He finished with 5,259 career rushing yards and 49 touchdowns. He owns almost every SEC rushing record, and broke an endless amount of NCAA records during his three years at Georgia.
If you combine his USFL and NFL stats, Walker’s combined 13,787 rushing yards would rank fifth among all rushers. His 45 touchdowns would rank sixth, and Walker's 25,283 yards would be the most all-time by nearly 2,000 yards.