Top Auburn Running Backs

[Edit 2013-01-13: See the updated list including Ben Tate, Onterio McCalebb, Cam Newton, and more accurate stats.]

Today, Phillip Marshall posted an entry basically stating that Bo Jackson was the best runner ever at Auburn. That pretty much goes without saying. He then asks for users to vote for the next three running backs in the all-time list. I posted my vote, but I thought I would go into my thoughts in more detail.

Before getting too deep, the entire list. All numbers mined from the 2007 Auburn Football Media Guide.

Name Career
Career APY Career TD Season RY Season APY Season TD Game RY Score
Bo Jackson 4303 4892 43 1786 1859 17 290 154.74
Carnell Williams 3831 5084 45 1307 1718 17 204 120.19
James Brooks 3523 4496 24 1314 1800 10 226 103.80
Joe Cribbs 3368 4561 34 1205 1336 16 250 100.02
Stephen Davis 2811 3178 30 1263 1355 17 246 90.25
Brent Fullwood 2789 3758 24 1391 1512 10 207 74.08
Rudi Johnson 1567 1637 13 1567 1637 13 249 67.79
Ronnie Brown 2707 3390 29 1008 1189 14 224 66.36
Kenny Irons 2186 2430 17 1293 1459 13 218 57.04
James Bostic 2084 2254 18 1205 1245 12 211 44.25
  • Season stats refer to the best season
  • Game stats refer to the best game
  • APY: All-Purpose Yards
  • RY: Rushing Yards
  • TD: Touchdowns
  • [Edit 2008-01-28: Records highlighted in bold.]

Cadillac, Brooks, and Cribbs

Grouping these together because they represent my vote for the next three. Carnell “Cadillac” Williams is an easy number two. One glance at his career all-purpose yards and touchdowns pretty much locks it up. Carnell almost gives Bo a run for the money, but Bo had a bigger rushing game (many of them), season, and career. Let’s not forget that little Heisman Trophy that Bo won back in 1985.

Now Brooks and Cribbs are neck and neck in my book. In fact, I actually have them reversed in my official “vote”. However I refined my methodology which gave the edge back to Brooks. He was a better all-purpose back and had bigger games. Cribbs was a great back that never peaked as high as many on this list. Cribbs started strong and stayed steady and reliable.

The Rest of the List

Most of the list is pretty straight-forward. Stephen Davis was in the five spot no matter how my methodology evolved. He was very solid. Some would argue that his last year under Terry Bowden cost him quite a bit. I have no opinion on that as I was still a Bowden fan at that point.

After Fullwood, a fairly solid 6th, comes the fun. Rudi versus Ronnie. I think Rudi is the better runner, hands-down. However, he only had one season at Auburn which cost him quite a bit. If he had come back for his senior season (he was a JUCO transfer), he would be at least in the five spot. He would also have taken yards away from Carnell and Ronnie in 2001, dropping them a touch as well. Ronnie’s problem…sharing time with Carnell Williams.

Irons and Bostic round out the list. They were both pretty good backs. They just aren’t quite as good as anyone else on the list.

My Methodology

There is a method in my madness. I took the categories above and ranked them in two ways. The first gave 10 points to the holder of the record, and the remaining got a fraction of that based on their score. For example, Carnell’s score for career rushing yards was 8.90.

The second gave points for top-ten finishes in each category, with the number one ranking getting 10. If someone ranked in the top ten more than once, they got more points. This led to Bo racking-up big points for top games as he as the 2nd, 3rd, 7th, and 8th biggest rushing games in Auburn history.

Also, while I didn’t account for this, let’s remember that today’s back have more games per season. While that may wear them down, it gives them more raw numbers.

Some season numbers may not be career highs for a person if their best season came when a better back led the way. If you find any of that, let me know and send me a link to the source.

I did check to make sure that no stats from the 2007 season impacted any of the rankings. They didn’t. However, give the current crop a few more years and maybe one will hit this list.

Fun Fact: The record for most rushing yards in a game? Curtis Kuykendall ran for 307 yards at Miami on November 24, 1944. He did it on 33 attempts and got 4 touchdowns. It was World War II though, so the competition probably wasn’t all that impressive.


7 thoughts on “Top Auburn Running Backs

  1. Pingback: But Tucker was a God… « Pie on Sports

  2. On Curtis Kuykendall’s record, I might add that Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis played at the same time, and not many question their accomplishments.

    • I’m an Auburn grad, so I am pro-Curtis on this. Most single-game rushing records are against weaker opponents. The WWII effect also swings both ways and it may have impacted the quality of his teammates. Still impressive and worthy of noting here, otherwise I wouldn’t have added it at all. I also didn’t care about the era when compiling the list above because it is all relative.

  3. Pingback: Top Auburn Running Backs, 2012 Edition | Pie on Sports

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