Top Auburn Running Backs, 2012 Edition

It has been three years since I took a look at the top Auburn Running backs. With Onterio McCalebb calling it a career at Auburn, I thought it was time.

After taking a close look, I realized it was past time.

I had originally ranked the Best Auburn Running Backs after 2007 season, spurred by an online poll I had run across. When Ben Tate finished his Auburn career two years later I updated the list. While this was expected to be a pro forma look at the standings, there was an impact that I had completely forgotten…Cam Newton.

Updated Rankings

The 2007 list covers the basic methodology. The goal is to balance peak seasons with great games and steady careers. Sine 2007, I’ve included non-rushing touchdowns in the totals and made sure proper credit was given for having multiple appearances on a list.

Lets look at the list. [Records highlighted in bold]

Running Back Career RY Career APY Career TD Season RY Season APY Game RY Season TD Score Old Score
Bo Jackson 4303 4892 45 1786 1859 290 17 170.11 152.97
Carnell Williams 3831 5084 46 1307 1718 204 17 123.15 119.19
James Brooks 3523 4496 30 1314 1800 226 12 110.51 103.99
Joe Cribbs 3368 4561 36 1205 1336 250 16 100.64 100.07
Stephen Davis 2811 3178 34 1263 1355 246 17 89.26 86.98
Ben Tate 3321 3843 24 1362 1606 184 10 69.82 75.06
Brent Fullwood 2789 3758 24 1391 1512 207 10 65.84 70.96
Rudi Johnson 1567 1637 13 1567 1637 249 13 64.27 67.73
Ronnie Brown 2707 3390 30 1008 1189 224 14 61.87 64.44
Onterio McCalebb 2589 4485 29 810 1323 148 10 53.57
Kenny Irons 2186 2430 17 1293 1459 218 13 48.50 53.95

I left Kenny Irons in as the former number 10 in order to show where Onterio McCalebb fit in the grand order of things. Onterio passed Kenny to make the list with a lot of all-purpose-yards and turning many of those into touchdowns. I never thought of Onterio as a top ten running back but four solid years and versatility goes a long way.

Other Notes:

  • While normally scores decrease from one ranking to the next as people are pushed down the lists, the top five back all rose. This is due to getting deserved credit for repeat excellence.
    • Bo Jackson has four of the top rushing games of all time: 2nd, 3rd, 7th, and 8th. Adding credit for those games gave Bo a massive bump in his score. Let’s face it, we don’t need lists to reaffirm Bo Jackson’s position as Auburn’s Best Running Back.
    • Carnell Williams has the 3rd and 5th best seasons for All-Purpose-Yards.
    • James Brooks has the 2nd and 4th best seasons for All-Purpose-Yards.
    • Joe Cribbs is 5th and 6th on the season touchdown list.
    • Stephen Davis is 2nd and 8th on the season touchdown list.
  • As mentioned last time out, Curtis Kuykendall set the record for most rushing yards in a game on November 24, 1944, running for 307 yards. He did it on 33 attempts and got 4 touchdowns.
  • The record for most non-passing touchdowns? Cam Newton with 21.

Which brings up an interesting situation.

Measuring Cam Newton

Like Tucker Frederickson in the 1960s, Cam Newton was a great college football player. As he was Auburn’s quarterback for his Auburn career, he doesn’t belong on the list of the best Auburn running backs.

That said, Cam Newton does hold the record for most rushing touchdowns at 20 plus a receiving touchdown he earned on a trick play. In fact, he has a few Auburn season marks:

  • 3rd in rushing yards per season with 1473, behind only Bo Jackson and Rudi Johnson.
  • 8th in all-purpose-yards in a season with 1515.
  • 10th in career touchdowns with 21, even with only one season under his belt.

In fact, if you calculated his score, Cam would have been 7th on the list with a score of 66.16, right behind Ben Tate. He definitely replaces Rudi Johnson as the best single season wonder in the running back list.

The impact to the list is that Cam raised the bar to get into any season top ten list and raised the season touchdown record from 17 to 21. In fact, if Cam wasn’t clearly a QB, he’d be on the list and Onterio would be off of the list.

To get a fuller picture of Cam’s impact on Auburn’s record book, you need to take a larger look at quarterbacks.

Maybe another day.