May 19, 2008

Olin Buchanan's Top Texas Running Backs

MORE: Super soph Seastrunk turning heads | VIDEO: Seastrunk in action

Here is Olin Buchanan's take on the top 10 running backs in Texas history, based on their high school, college and pro careers. Buchanan covered high school and college football in Texas for 25 years before moving to
10. Greg Pruitt, Houston: Another Texan who played college football at Oklahoma, Pruitt rushed for 1,665 yards for the Sooners in 1971 and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. The next year, he finished second. Pruitt, who played at Elmore High, was a second-round selection of the Cleveland Browns in the 1973 NFL Draft. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and finished his 11-year career with 5,672 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.
9. Joe Washington, Port Arthur: Following a brilliant high school career in which he played for his father at Lincoln High, Washington went to Oklahoma and was named All-American in 1974 and '75. He was third in the 1974 Heisman voting and fifth in 1975, and accumulated 5,781 all-purpose yards. Taken fourth overall in the 1976 NFL Draft, Washington played with four teams in a 10-year NFL career in which he had 4,839 rushing yards and 3,413 receiving yards.
8. Adrian Peterson, Palestine: The nation's most coveted high school prospect after rushing for 2,960 yards in 2003, Peterson went to Oklahoma and finished second in the Heisman voting as a freshman. He rushed for 4,045 yards in three college seasons, then was a first-round draft choice in 2007 by Minnesota. He was NFL Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowl MVP after rushing for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns.
7. Priest Holmes, San Antonio: After rushing for 4,080 yards at John Marshall High, Holmes went to Texas. Injuries and the presence of Ricky Williams prevented him from amassing impressive stats with the Longhorns, but he was the 1994 Sun Bowl MVP and scored three touchdowns in an upset of Nebraska in the first Big 12 Championship Game in 1996. He was undrafted out of college, but was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2002 with Kansas City and finished his pro career with 8,172 yards and 94 touchdowns.
6. Thurman Thomas, Houston: He was one of the nation's top prospects after leading Willowridge High School to a state championship in 1982. He went to Oklahoma State, where he was a two-time All-American and rushed for 4,959 yards and scored 43 touchdowns. Taken in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft, he proved to be a steal. In an NFL career that extended from 1988-2000, he rushed for 12,074 yards, was All-Pro six times and was NFL MVP in 1991. He's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
5. Doak Walker, Dallas: A star at Highland Park High School, Walker opted to attend SMU and became one of its greatest legends. Named All-American in 1947, '48 and '49, Walker accumulated 3,862 yards of total offense and 303 points at SMU and won the Heisman Trophy in 1948. Taken by Detroit with the third pick of the 1949 NFL Draft, he played six seasons with the Lions and was voted All-Pro four times while twice helping them win NFL titles. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
4. Billy Sims, Hooks: In high school, Sims set a state record by rushing for 100 yards in 38 consecutive games. He went to Oklahoma, and won the Heisman Trophy in 1978 after rushing for a school-record 1,896 yards. He also finished as the Heisman runner-up in '79. Sims was the first player taken in the 1980 NFL Draft. A three-time Pro Bowl selection with Detroit, he rushed for 5,106 yards in a five-year career cut short by a knee injury.
3. LaDainian Tomlinson, Waco: Lightly recruited despite rushing for 2,554 yards and 39 touchdowns as a senior at University High School, Tomlinson went to TCU and earned All-American acclaim in 2000. He rushed for 5,263 yards in his college career and finished fourth in the 2000 Heisman Trophy voting. Taken fifth overall in 2001 NFL Draft, he has rushed for almost 11,000 yards and been named All-Pro six times and was NFL MVP in 2006 for San Diego.
2. Eric Dickerson, Sealy: Having led Sealy High School to a state title, Dickerson went to SMU and teamed with Craig James in the famed "Pony Express" backfield. He rushed for 4,450 yards at SMU and finished third in the 1982 Heisman Trophy voting. The Los Angeles Rams made Dickerson the second pick in the 1983 NFL Draft. A six-time Pro Bowl and five-time All-Pro selection, he rushed for 13,259 yards in an 11-year career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
1. Earl Campbell, Tyler: After leading John Tyler to a Class 4A state championship, Campbell went on to Texas. He rushed for 4,444 yards in his career and won the Heisman Trophy in 1977. The first player taken in the 1978 NFL Draft, he rushed for 9,407 yards in his pro career, was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, the 1979 NFL MVP and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

MORE: Super soph Seastrunk turning heads | VIDEO: Seastrunk in action

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for He can be reached at is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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