By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Penn State was known as “Linebacker U,” and BYU had an amazing run of top-level QBs, but when it comes to college football running backs, no school has the lineage quite like the USC Trojans. Below is our ranking of the top seven Trojan RBs of all time. The list is so deep that we left out premier runners such as LenDale White, Ronald Jones II and Ryan McKnight, not to mention Hall of Fame halfback Frank Gifford.
Here’s our seven:
7. RICKY BELL. The powerfully built Bell arrived at USC as a linebacker, transitioned to fullback, then became one of college football’s elite runners. He had 1,875 rushing yards in 1975, his junior season, and finished third in the Heisman Trophy race (Archie Griffin won the award). The next season, despite battling nagging injuries, Bell again had a banner campaign, even rushing for a school record 347 yards against Washington State. That year, Bell finished second in the Heisman voting, behind Pitt’s Tony Dorsett.
6. ANTHONY DAVIS. Davis is third on USC’s career rushing yardage list. He led the Trojans in rushing, scoring and kick returns for three straight seasons (1972-74). He was a consensus All-American, finishing second in the 1974 Heisman race to Ohio State’s Archie Griffin. Davis was also a key contributor for the school’s baseball team. In all, he won five national championships at USC: two in football and three in baseball.
5. REGGIE BUSH. Bush was perhaps the most electrifying runner in USC history. He could also do his t all. Against Fresno State in 2005, he set a school record for most all-purpose yards in a single game, with 513 (294 rushing, 68 receiving, 151 on returns). That season, he rushed for 1,740 yards, averaging an astounding 8.7 yards per carry. He won the Heisman Trophy that season, but was forced to give it up after allegations of accepting improper benefits at the school.
4. MIKE GARRETT. USC’s first Heisman winner. He set 14 NCAA, conference and school rushing records. He won the Heisman in 1965 after rushing for 1,440 yards and 13 TDs. At the time, schools played only 10 games, making 1,000-yard rushing campaigns a rarity.
3. O.J. SIMPSON. Before he became one America’s most disgraced figures, Simpson was one of the world’s most popular athletes. He shot to fame at USC, rushing for 1,880 yards in 1968 and winning the Heisman Trophy. His Heisman win was the most lopsided vote in the history of the award. In 1998, Sport magazine named him one of the top college football players of the century.
2. CHARLES WHITE. USC’s all-time leading rusher, with 6,245 yards on the ground. Twice a unanimous All-American, White set or equaled 22 NCAA, Pac-12, USC and Rose Bowl records. Beat out Oklahoma RB Billy Sims and BYU QB Marc Wilson for the 1979 Heisman.
1. MARCUS ALLEN. The 1981 Heisman Trophy winner set 14 NCAA records that year, including the most 200-yard games (8) in a single season. He was college football’s first 2,000-yard rusher (2,427, still a Pac-12 record). He is second on USC’s career rushing yards list (4,810), and remember, he was primarily used as a blocking fullback for his first two seasons. The versatile Allen also led the Trojans in receptions during his junior and senior seasons.
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