Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ranking WVU’s greatest running backs

WVU running backs have always been very successful, and many of the program’s best players come from this position.

West Virginia rushers have had prolific careers and shattered records, and I am now faced with an impossible task of correctly ranking the best running back’s in WVU’s history.

As always, this list is up for debate and we love hearing what the people have to offer. Comment and give your opinion on this list, and engage in friendly debate.

To see our other two rankings, you can click here to check out our receiver rankings, and here for our safety rankings.

6. Tommy Allman (1950-1954)

It’s tough to ignore someone who was an All-American at their position. Allman started as a fullback for the Mountaineers, running for 918 yards during his Mountaineer career.

While many running backs have surpassed this amount during a single season, Allman was an All-American for a team that had three consecutive eight win seasons, (teams usually played no more than 10 games during this time) and won five Southern Conference championships in six seasons.

Playing less games hindered his career statistics in comparison to other players on this list, but the game of football has changed dramatically over this time period.

Allman’s accomplishments speak for themselves, and he will be remembered as an All-American during his career as a Mountaineer.

5. Robert Walker (1992-1995)

Robert Walker enjoyed one of the better seasons in Mountaineer running back history, being the starting back for the programs second undefeated regular season in 1993.

During that season, Walker eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark totaling 1,250 yards and 11 touchdowns with an incredible 5.8 yards per carry average on the season.

Walker’s shining moment came in one of the last game’s of the season, with the undefeated season on the line against the #4 Miami Hurricanes.

Trailing late in the fourth quarter, Walker ripped off a 19 yard touchdown to seal the victory for the Mountaineers in front of a then-stadium record 70,222 fans at home, preserving the undefeated season for the Mountaineers.

Walker’s final two seasons were not as great as his sophomore season, but he still finished with 2,620 career rushing yards which rank 7th all-time at WVU.

4. Noel Devine (2007-2010)

Devine was a sensation before he stepped on campus in Morgantown, with his high school highlights being a viral hit on the internet.

Devine stood only 5’8″, but his shiftiness and moves were incomparable to anyone else and Devine is arguably WVU’s best recruit to ever commit to WVU.

Devine was a four-year contributor for the Mountaineers, getting his first career touchdown in the season opener of his Freshman year against Western Michigan.
Devine filled in for the team during the Fiesta Bowl that season, when Steve Slaton left with an injury. Devine rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns as the Mountaineers defeated Oklahoma 48-28.

Devine surpassed 1,000 yards in his sophomore and junior seasons, gaining 1,289 and 1,465 yards respectively.

Devine finished his Mountaineer career with 4,315 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns. Devine’s rushing yards rank 2nd all-time among WVU running backs, and his touchdowns place him 6th on the list.

3. Avon Cobourne (1999-2002)

WVU’s career rushing leader has to be mentioned somewhere on the list, right?

Cobourne rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons as a Mountaineer.

Cobourne is the school’s only member of the 5,000 career rushing yard club, totaling 5,164 yards and 42 touchdowns during his career.

As a freshman, Cobourne was 13th in the nation in rushing yards and was the leading freshman rusher.

He was a model for consistency, placing in the top 20 for rushing yards in all four years at WVU, and setting the Big East career rushing record.

As a senior, Cobourne ran for 1,710 yards which was a school-record at the time, but was shattered by a member of our top two.

Cobourne also won the Grey Cup MVP in the CFL in 2009, which is equivalent to the Super Bowl MVP for the CFL.

2. Amos Zereoue (1996-1998)

Zereoue was a fan-favorite from the moment he first touched the field for the Mountaineers.

In his first collegiate carry, Zereoue ripped off a 69-yard touchdown against the hated Pitt Panthers (Sweet Caroline……..).

As a freshman, he was named to the All-Big East 1st team and was a unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year.

There was no sophomore slump for Zereoue as he finished 10th in the Heisman trophy race and was named a third-team All-American, totaling 1,589 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Zereoue made his second appearance on the All-American team as a junior, finishing with 1,462 yards and earning second-team honors.

Despite declaring for the NFL draft a year early, he still ranks 4th all-time in career yards with 4,086 and 5th with 40 touchdowns.

1. Steve Slaton (2005-2007)

Call me biased because he was the running back I grew up watching, but Slaton tops the list of Mountaineer running backs.

While he is only fifth on the list in career yards, Slaton is the all-time record holder with 50 rushing touchdowns in only three seasons as a Mountaineer.

Slaton was hampered by injuries during his final season as a Mountaineer, but his first two were two of the most explosive seasons WVU fans have ever witnessed.

Despite not starting until four games into his freshman season, Slaton rushed for over 1,000 yards during his first season as a Mountaineer, including his iconic performance against Louisville as he totaled 188 yards and six touchdowns in a triple overtime victory.

Slaton, paired with Pat White (no introduction needed) was one of the most dangerous duos in College Football history, and were the stars of some of the best Mountaineer teams in history.

As a sophomore, Slaton set the single-season record for rushing yards with 1,744 and was a consensus All-American. Slaton also finished fourth in the Heisman trophy voting this season.

Slaton was a pioneer for a golden era for WVU football, and his play was recognized across the nation.

Slaton was selected in the 3rd round of the NFL draft, and ran for over 1,000 yards as a rookie.