Who are the top running backs in SEC history?

We’ve spent the last several weeks flipping through team-specific media guides, glancing over highlight film and nearly coming to blows at our home office determining this 25-member comprehensive list of the league’s best running backs.

Editor’s note: The SDS staff weighed multiple factors during our SEC’s all-time running back rankings process including career statistics, individual awards, importance to their respective team and the era in which they played.


This two-time All-American rushed for a record-setting 3,420 yards with the Crimson Tide, including consecutive 1,000-yard seasons as a sophomore and junior during the 1986 and 1987 campaigns. Humphrey, who averaged 5.6 yards career per carry, rarely came off the field during his time in Tuscaloosa for head coaches Ray Perkins and Bill Curry, leading the SEC in plays from scrimmage back-to-back years.

Humphrey’s NFL career was short-lived after being picked up by the Denver Broncos in the 1989 supplemental draft. He appeared in Super Bowl XXIV as a rookie and earned a Pro Bowl appearance in 1990 before a contract dispute led to a trade to Miami where he never again found his footing.

Career numbers:

3,420 yards rushing, 34 TD; 523 yards receiving, 7 TD

Individual superlatives:

All-American (1986-87); All-SEC (1986-87), UPI College Football Player of the Year (1987)

NFL Draft:

No. 3 overall in 1989


A two-time SEC MVP, Majors was the runner-up in Heisman Trophy voting as a senior in 1956 for the SEC champion Vols. Majors totaled 1,622 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns at halfback while also throwing for 1,135 yards and 11 touchdowns during his career.

The triple-threat tailback returned punts and kicks at Tennessee, intercepted two passes on defense and punted for the Vols during an era in which star athletes rarely came off the field. Majors is one of eight players in school history to have their jersey retired. He later returned to Knoxville and coached 16 years, leading the Vols to 12 winning seasons. He won a national title at Pittsburgh in 1976.

Career numbers:

1,622 yards rushing, 15 TD; 1,135 yards passing, 10 TD

Individual superlatives:

All-American (1956); All-SEC (1955-56); SEC POTY (1955-56); College Football Hall of Fame

NFL Draft:


13.) CHARLEY TRIPPI, GEORGIA (1942-43, 1945-46)

One of the ‘best players to ever live’ according to legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant, Trippi starred in the same backfield as Heisman winner Frank Sinkwich in 1942 as Georgia’s All-American halfback. He accounted for over 1,200 yards that season earned the Rose Bowl’s MVP honor after rushing for 130 yards during a win over UCLA for the SEC champion Bulldogs.

Trippi missed the next two seasons after serving in World War II before returning to Athens for his junior and senior campaigns. In 1946, Tripp led the Bulldogs to an unbeaten season and unclaimed national title after Georgia finished 11-0 with a win in the Sugar Bowl. He won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top player for his efforts.

In the 1947 NFL Championship Game, Trippi scored touchdowns on a 44-yard run and a 75-yard punt return to take home MVP honors. He was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is one of three players all-time to have at least 1,000 receiving yards, 1,000 through the air and 1,000 on the ground.

Career numbers:

32 rushing TD, Georgia’s all-time leader in career YPC at 6.42

Individual superlatives:

All-American (1942, 1946); All-SEC (1942; 1946); Maxwell Award (1946); College Football Hall of Fame; Georgia Sports Hall of Fame; Pro Football Hall of Fame

NFL Draft:

No. 1 overall in 1945


Williams shared the backfield spotlight with Ronnie Brown during his time on the Plains, but there was no question as to who the primary ballcarrier was during the Tigers’ run through the SEC. Williams led the SEC in rushing touchdowns and touchdowns from scrimmage his final two seasons after returning from a broken leg as a sophomore.

As a senior, Williams helped Auburn finish 13-0, but the Tigers were not crowned national champions after finishing No. 2 behind USC. His 45 touchdowns all-time is tops in program history and his 3,831 yards on the ground is second only to Bo Jackson.

Williams was selected fifth overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005 and played seven NFL seasons. His first season was his best (1,178 yards) and earned him rookie of the year accolades.

Career numbers:

3,831 yards rushing, 45 TD; 342 yards receiving, TD

Individual superlatives:

All-SEC (2003-04); All-American (2004)

NFL Draft:

No. 5 overall in 2005


Mr. Touchdown during his tenure in Baton Rouge, Alexander was a two-time All-American and twice a Heisman finalist with the Tigers who set nine SEC records and 27 school records during a brilliant college career. LSU’s all-time leader for most carries a game (43) and yards in a single season (1,686), Alexander was inducted into the program’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.

An every-down workhorse as an upperclassman, Alexander totaled 592 attempts over his final two seasons. He accumulated more plays from scrimmage than any running back in the country over that period.

In seven NFL seasons, Alexander finished with 2,645  yards rushing, 1,130 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns.

Career numbers:

4,035 yards rushing, 40 TD; 431 yards receiving, 2 TD

Individual superlatives:

All-SEC (1976-77); All-American (1976-77); LSU Hall of Fame; College Football Hall of Fame

NFL Draft:

No. 12 overall (second round) in 1979