Penn State well-represented on ESPN’s top 100 RBs of all-time list

Penn State football has produced some terrific running backs over the years, including some pro football hall of fame players and backs who would go on to be considered franchise running backs at the next level. But where do Penn State’s best running backs of all time compare in the history of the sport of college football? ESPN’s recent ranking of the top 100 running backs of all time provided a possible answer.

Bill Connelly of ESPN ranked the top 100 running backs over the past 60 years of the history of college football, taking the list back to the point in time when players began to have more specialized positions and running backs really took off as the main cog in any team’s offense. And, as noted by Connelly, running backs were the main bread and butter for successful teams at a time before big passing games became the norm. A running back won the Heisman Trophy 17 out of 24 times between 1965 and 1988, including Penn State’s own John Cappelletti in 1973. Cappelletti made the list at No. 40 overall and is the highest-ranked Nittany Lion to appear on the ranking.

Penn State had a handful of other running backs included in Connelly’s top 100 ranking of running backs. Larry Johnson, as the school’s only 2,000-yard rusher, earned a ranking of No. 45 in Connelly’s list. Saquon Barkley (68), Lydell Mitchell (69), and Ki-Jana Carter (70) were lumped together in a group of notable standouts. This trio would probably sit well together on a Mount Rushmore of Penn State running backs as they each stand out in different points in time for the program. Mitchell was one of the most successful backs in program history in the earlier days of Joe Paterno’s career. Carter was a dominant running back at the beginning of the Big Ten era for Penn State. And Barkley is the latest star player that took the position…


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