football Edit

Running Back U? Five schools stake their claim

Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson (AP Images)

Which team is RBU? Many times, this is determined based on history. But we thought it would be interesting to base it off current NFL rosters. Below are the teams that were the best candidates, along with Mike Farrell's verdict.


MORE: Class of 2019 running back rankings

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team


Current NFL RBs: T.J. Yeldon, Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, Eddie Lacy, Kenyan Drake, Jalston Fowler

The case: Alabama’s list of running backs in the NFL is long and impressive, and should continue to be impressive for years to come. The Crimson Tide have developed power running backs, huge backs, speed backs and NFL teams covet players who shine in Tuscaloosa. Bo Scarbrough is next in line and it’s no surprise Alabama’s backfield is loaded with Najee Harris, Damien Harris and others.

Tony Tsoukalas, “Just look at the numbers. Alabama has six former running backs in the NFL, and that’s not counting Bo Scarbrough who will be selected in this year’s draft. Of that group, there are two former Heisman Trophy winners in Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry, both of whom are starters on their respective teams. Not only is Alabama currently RBU, it's going to remain that way for a while with future NFL stars like Damien Harris and Najee Harris waiting in the wings.”


DeMarco Murray
DeMarco Murray (AP Images)

Current NFL RBs: Adrian Peterson, Joe Mixon, DeMarco Murray, Samaje Perine, Damien Williams

The case: Peterson is a seven-time Pro Bowler who has also been recognized in various ways because of his dominance in the NFL. Mixon and Perine are two up-and-coming running backs who are utilized in different ways but should have long careers. So much is made of Oklahoma’s downfield passing attack, but the Sooners have pumped out numerous high-end running backs over the years, too.

Carey Murdock, “Running Back U is always nostalgia-filled talk that centers around the best running backs in college football history. Hey, I've got a lawn, nobody cares if you are on it. Let's talk about recent history. Adrian Peterson still has one foot in the NFL and even if you want to argue he's on his way out, Oklahoma has some of the best young running backs in the NFL in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. DeMarco Murray is still one of the best backs in the leagues even though he's looking for somebody to pay him what he's worth. Damien Williams is also an underrated pro that gets yards like anyone with Heisman credentials.

"The Sooners are a great example of a modern day offense that still produces NFL talent at the RB position. No one needs to get off the lawn on Owen Field. They throw the football as well as anyone, but they still believe in running it. They are one of the best examples of today's RBU.”


Lamar Miller
Lamar Miller (AP Images)

Current NFL RBs: Frank Gore, Mike James, Duke Johnson, Lamar Miller

The case: The list of current NFL running backs for the Hurricanes is impressive. Historically, Miami’s list is a Who’s Who at the position, some of the best-ever to play running back started their stellar careers at The U. Miami signed three running backs last recruiting cycle, led by five-star Lorenzo Lingard, who could be the next superstar in the Hurricanes’ backfield.

Gary Ferman, “RBU actually began when all of these guys were in diapers. Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and before then Ottis Anderson, Alonzo Highsmith and Melvin Bratton all laid the building blocks for RBU. So why has Miami been so star-laden at running back? It's due to the ‘Canes chief recruiting territory of South Florida, which breeds running backs. Miami may have the next great in five-star Lorenzo Lingard. And imagine if the ‘Canes had landed Miami Central's Dalvin Cook, too.”


Devonta Freeman
Devonta Freeman (AP Images)

Current NFL RBs: Dalvin Cook, Devonta Freeman, Chris Thompson

The case: Florida State might not have the quantity of running backs in the NFL as some other schools but the quality is certainly there. Cook looked to be a star before getting injured last season and could return better than ever. Freeman and Thompson are incredibly valuable to their teams as well. With a high-end running back in Tallahassee nearly every year, more names could be added to this list soon.

Ira Schoffel, “This trio should definitely have Florida State in the conversation for RBU, even though it would be somewhat fitting for people to dismiss them since all three have been underappreciated throughout their careers. Freeman was a fourth-round draft pick before blossoming into a Pro Bowl running back in Atlanta, and Thompson was a fifth-rounder before putting together a nice career in Washington. Even Cook, who shattered Warrick Dunn's single-season and career rushing records at FSU, fell into the second round after many experts suggested he would be a top-20 pick. It's no surprise that all three play with a bit of a chip on their shoulders and are among the hardest workers to come through the Seminoles' program in years.”


Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette (AP Images)

Current NFL RBs: Alfred Blue, Leonard Fournette, Jeremy Hill, Terrence Magee, Stevan Ridley, Spencer Ware

The case: The list will assuredly grow longer with the addition of Derrius Guice this season since he’s a possible first-round draft pick. LSU has had back-to-back five-star backs in Fournette, a rookie star in the NFL, and now Guice, who should be special as well. For a long while, running backs have been the marquee player in Baton Rouge and that shouldn’t change soon.

Mike Scarborough, “LSU has not had the running back position be a question mark leading into a season since Kevin Faulk arrived in 1995. During that time period, it hasn’t just been the starter who was marquee, it's been also the high quality backups as well. It's been running back by committee for multiple decades which is why NFL teams love Tiger running backs. They haven’t been run to death and have a lot of tread left on the tires when they arrive.”


I’m going with Oklahoma here. Not only do the Sooners have Adrian Peterson, one of the best running backs the NFL has ever seen, but they also have DeMarco Murray and some serious young talent. Alabama has depth, Florida State has great quality in its trio, Miami and LSU have great tradition with some serious current talent, but Oklahoma wins the prize here.