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.

25.) TODD GURLEY, GEORGIA (2012-14)

One of the greatest prep running backs in North Carolina history, Georgia’s second all-time leading rusher averaged 109.5 yards rushing per game as a fleet-footed collegian with tremendous power and size. As a freshman All-American in 2012, Gurley rushed for 1,385 yards — tops among SEC running backs — and scored a program freshman-record 17 touchdowns.

Injuries and an autograph suspension plagued his final two years, but Gurley still managed to keep his reputation as one of college football’s most feared ballcarriers. Despite making just six starts as a junior, Gurley managed 911 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns.

Drafted 10th overall last week by the St. Louis Rams, Gurley was the first running back selected in the first round since 2012. An ACL tear late last fall didn’t scare away the Rams who picked up a former All-SEC ballcarrier for the second straight draft.

Career numbers:

3,285 yards rushing, 36 TD; 615 yards receiving, 6 TD

Individual superlatives:

Freshman All-American (2012); All-SEC (2012)

NFL Draft:

No. 10 overall in 2015

24.) TRE MASON, AUBURN (2011-13)

A three-year player at Auburn, Mason posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons over his final two years and earned the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year honor in 2013. His 1,816-yard junior campaign was the third-best single season total in league history behind Herschel Walker and Darren McFadden.

Elite company.

Over his final six starts as a junior, Mason accumulated 1,119 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns, one of the most incredible stretches in SEC history. He set an SEC Championship Game record for rushing with 304 yards on 46 carries against Mizzou in 2013 and followed that up with an impressive 195-yard effort in the BCS Championship Game against top-ranked Florida State.

Mason scored a touchdown in 18 of his final 21 college games. He was selected in third round of the 2014 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams who at the time also had fellow SEC ballcarrer, Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt’s all-time leader in rushing.

Career numbers:

2,979 yards rushing, 32 TD; 249 yards receiving, TD

Individual superlatives:

All-American (2013); All-SEC (2013); SEC Off. POTY (2013); SEC Championship Game MVP (2013)

NFL Draft:

No. 75 overall (third round) in 2014


Mississippi State’s all-time leading rusher is one of the Western Division’s most underrated playmakers, a between-the-tackles ballcarrier who often showcased his speed when he got to the edge. Dixon’s stellar career featured two 1,000-yard seasons and his grand total of 3,994 yards on the ground ranks eighth-most all-time in SEC history.

Dixon remains the only sophomore in school history to post a 1,000-yard season. He helped the Bulldogs win eight games in 2007 — the most in seven years. Much of his overall production was lost in translation during the disappointing Sylvester Croom era in Starkville, but his impact on the SEC record books was considerable.

Durability was never a question for Dixon who carried the football 910 times over his career, the second-highest total in SEC history behind Herschel Walker’s 994 attempts over a three-year span from 1980-82.

Career numbers:

3,994 yards rushing, 42 TD; 449 yards receiving, 4 TD

Individual superlatives:

All-SEC (2009)

NFL Draft:

No. 173 overall (sixth round) in 2010

22.) DALTON HILLIARD, LSU (1982-85)

The Tigers’ scoring machine in the mid 1980s sits fifth all-time in SEC history with 44 career rushing touchdowns — one more than Auburn’s Bo Jackson. Hilliard posted consecutive 100-yard seasons as a junior and season and is one of only seven SEC running backs to ever record more than 4,000 yards on the ground.

Under-recruited out of high school as a 5-foot-8 scatback, Hilliard’s only major offer besides LSU was Oklahoma. Once he got to Baton Rouge however, Hilliard was an instant impact, recording an NCAA-freshman record 16 total touchdowns in 1982. A primary threat out of the backfield as a receiver, Hilliard averaged 9.4 yards per catch as a collegian.

Hilliard went on to star for the New Orleans Saints, rushing for 4,164 yards and 39 touchdowns over eight NFL seasons. Hilliard’s nephew, Kenny Hilliard, was drafted in the seventh round last week.

Career numbers:

4,050 yards rushing, 44 TD; 1,133 yards receiving, 6 TD

Individual superlatives:

All-SEC (1982, 1984-85); Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame

NFL Draft:

No. 31 overall (second round) in 1986


The SEC’s Player of the Year in 1973, the Wildcats’ all-time leading rusher picked up 1,213 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore, the fourth-best single-season total at Kentucky. Collins’ 26 career rushing touchdowns is tied for the most at the program with Moe Williams.

Career numbers:

3,835 yards rushing, 26 TD

Individual superlatives:

All-SEC (1973-75); SEC Player of the Year (1973); SEC Legend (2012)

NFL Draft:

No. 36 overall (second round) in 1976