‘The U’ Series

Spanning the last 25 years, Saturday Down South has looked at the quality and volume of each SEC program’s NFL Draft picks at the running back position to determine which school deserves the title of Running Back U.

There’s several programs worthy of consideration led by impressive talents including LSU’s Joseph Addai and Kevin Faulk along with the Arkansas trio of Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis, but there’s four teams in particular who have separated from the rest of the pack thanks to Heisman awards and substantial NFL impact.

Which SEC team deserves the title of Running Back U?

3A. Alabama (Draft Picks: Bobby Humphrey, Kevin Turner, Siran Stacy, Derrick Lassic, Sherman Williams, Shaun Alexander, Ahmaad Galloway, Kenneth Darby, Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram, Brad Smelley, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy) — After a record-setting career in the college ranks, Alexander too his talent to the NFL and over nine seasons, rushed for nearly 10,000 yards … Alexander’s 100 career NFL touchdowns puts him in the Top 20 all-time … In 2009, Ingram became just the sixth player in college football history to capture the Heisman and a national championship in the same season as Alabama’s first winner of the prestigious award … Richardson, Lacy and now T.J. Yeldon continued the strong line of tailbacks during the Nick Saban era post-Ingram.

Noteworthy totals in Tuscaloosa

  • Alexander: 3,565 yds rushing, 49 total TD
  • Humphrey: 3,420 yds rushing, 40 total TD
  • Ingram: 3,261 yds rushing, 46 total TD

3B. Auburn (Draft picks: James Joseph, James Bostic, Stephen Davis, Kevin McLeod, Fred Beasley, Rudi Johnson, Heath Evans, Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, Kenny Irons, Ben Tate, Tre Mason) — One of the original ‘Thunder and Lightning’ tandems in the SEC, Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams were both Top 5 picks in the 2005 NFL Draft and combined for 6,538 yards rushing and 73 touchdowns over their careers in the Tigers’ backfield … Davis, a bruising ballcarrier with tremendous strength, played 11 NFL seasons and totaled more than 8,000 yards on the ground with the Redskins, Panthers and Rams … Mason, a third-round draft pick, was the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2013 after rushing for a league championship game record 304 yards on 46 carries against Mizzou.

Noteworthy totals in Auburn

  • Williams: 3,831 yds rushing, 45 rushing TD
  • Davis: 2,811 yds rushing, 30 rushing TD
  • Brown: 2,707 yds rushing, 28 rushing TD

2. Georgia: (Notable Draft Picks: Tim Worley, Keith Henderson, Rodney Hampton, Garrison Hearst, Frank Harvey, Terrell Davis, Robert Edwards, Olandis Gary, Patrick Pass, Verron Haynes, Musa Smith, Thomas Brown, Knowshon Moreno, Shaun Chapas) — Fourth on the school’s all-time rushing list, Moreno tallied his 2,734-yard total in two seasons … Moreno made leaping over linebackers a thing … A two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl XXXII MVP, Davis is arguably the program’s best pro-level rusher over the last 25 years despite Hearst holding a slight yardage edge … The 7th overall pick in 1989, Worley averaged 5.8 yards per carry over three NFL seasons.

Noteworthy totals in Athens

  • Heart: 3,232 yds rushing, 35 total TD
  • Moreno: 2,734 yds rushing, 32 total TD
  • Worley: 2,038 yds rushing, 29 total TD

1. Tennessee (Draft Picks: Reggie Cobb, Roland Poles, Greg Amsler, Chuck Webb, Charlie Garner, Aaron Hayden, James Stewart, Jay Graham, Shawn Bryson, Jamal Lewis, Travis Henry, Travis Stephens, Troy Fleming, Cedric Houston, Montario Hardesty) — With an incredible 15 picks, the Vols have had two more selections than any other SEC program since 1989 … Henry, the program’s all-time leading rusher, tallied 6,086 yards on the ground in seven NFL seasons … Lewis is perhaps the Vols’ most decorated back, capturing a BCS championship in 1998, then winning a Super Bowl as a rookie with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 … He went on to score 58 touchdowns and register more than 10,000 yards rushing as a 10-year pro … On an undrafted note, Arian Foster’s been a three-time All-Pro and was the NFL’s 2010 top rusher since not hearing his name called in 2009.

Noteworthy totals in Knoxville

  • Henry: 3,078 yds rushing, 26 total TD
  • Stewart: 2,890 yds rushing, 39 total TD
  • Lewis: 2,677 yds rushing, 21 total TD