Texas running backs have a history of putting up big numbers. Heck, they name the top running back award after SMU's Doak Walker. It's part of our history and lineage. Here are the top 10 rushing seasons by Roundup backs.
LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU 2,158 yards in 2000
LaDainian Tomlinson comes in on this list twice, he put up two of the top 32 single season rushing marks in NCAA history. His 2000 season comes it 8th all-time. Tomlinson was a senior in 2000 for a 10-2 TCU team that lost to Souther Miss in the Mobile Alabama Bowl. Tomlinson led the NCAA in rushing yards and attempts and averaged 5.8 yards a carry. Tomlinson also rushed for 22 touchdowns, good enough for 3rd in the NCAA. He had five 200 yard rushing games during his 2000 season and rushed for 305 against UTEP. Somehow all that put Tomlinson 4th in the Heisman balloting behind Chris Weinke (holy shit), Josh Heupel (ditto), and Drew Brees (tolerable).
Ricky Williams, Texas 2,124 yards in 1998
Ricky Williams third straight season of 1,000 yards or more comes in second among backs in Texas, 13th overall. Williams led the NCAA in yards, attempts, touchdowns, and yards from scrimmage. Twice Williams ran for 300 yards or more and had two 259 yard performances, one against Baylor and the second against Texas A&M to close out his regular season. Over half of Williams yards came after contact. Williams took home all the hardware in 1998, the Heisman, Doak Walker, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, the Maxwell, and the Walter Camp. The Longhorns finished 9-3 and went to the Cotton Bowl where they beat Mississippi State.
D'Onta Foreman, Texas 2,028 yards in 2016
Last season D'onta Foreman had a historic season for a running back. He was second behind Donnel Pumphrey in rushing and put up the 23rd best single season rushing year in NCAA history. In this day and age that's phenomenal. Foreman was 3rd in overall attempts in the NCAA and was almost 25 attempts behind Pumphrey. Foreman didn't play in a bowl game and missed the UTEP game due to injury. He averaged an NCAA best 184 yards per game and 193 against Big 12 opponents. Foreman recorded 100 yards in the first quarter against Baylor and went on to a 250 yard game. His 341 yard rushing day vs. Texas Tech good enough for the 3rd most in school history. Recorded a school record 51 attempts against Kansas. Foreman added 15 touchdowns and won the Doak Walker award.
Byron Hanspard, Texas Tech 2,000 yards in 1996
People forget how great Byron Hanspard was for Texas Tech. His 1996 season was his last season in Lubbock but his best rushing year. Hanspard averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored 13 times rushing. Hanspard finished second in the Big 12 in rushing attempts behind Iowa State's Troy Davis. Davis led the NCAA in rushing followed by Wisconsin's Ron Dayne and then Hanspard. Texas Tech finished 1996 7-5 and lost to Iowa in the Alamo Bowl. Hanspard finished 6th in Heisman voting in a year that Danny Weurffel won the award. His 1996 season was the 28th best single season rushing year in NCAA history.
LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU 1,974 yards in 1999
Tomlinson makes his second appearance on this list for his junior season. Tomlinson finished 4th in college football with 6.4 yards per carry and second in rushing yards behind Ron Dayne. Tomlinson rushed for an NCAA record 406 yards against UTEP in November of 1999. Melvin Gordon broke his record in 2014 and Semaje Perine topped Gordon's mark a week later. Tomlinson was the WAC Offensive Player of the Year for a TCU team that finished 8-4 including a Mobile Alabama Bowl win over East Carolina.
Ricky Williams, Texas 1,893 yards in 1997
Speaking of second appearances, Williams makes one with his junior season stat line. Williams averaged an incredible 6.8 yards per carry which was actually second in the Big 12 behind A&M's Dante' Hall. Williams was the fastest back to break the 1,000 yard plateau in just 168 carries. He rushed for 249 yards vs. Rice and 241 vs. Baylor. At the time his season was 12th best in NCAA history. Williams won the Doak Walker, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and AP Player of the Year Award. The Longhorns didn't capitalize, finishing 4-7 in John Mackovic's last season at the helm.
Cedric Benson, Texas 1,834 yards in 2004
They should call Texas Running Back U as Ced Benson makes the Longhorns' 4th appearance among the greatest rushing seasons in Texas collegiate history. Benson's 2004 season was good enough for 2nd in the Big 12 and 4th in the NCAA. OU's Adrian Peterson led the Big 12 in 2004. Benson scored 19 rushing touchdowns, tops in the Big 12. His 64 rushing touchdowns is 1st in Big 12 history. Benson won the Doak Walker in 2004 and started the season with four straight rushing games with 180 yards or more. The Longhorns finished 11-1 and 5th in the final AP poll. They won the Rose Bowl against Michigan.
Jamario Thomas, North Texas 1,801 in 2004
Another Texas back had a great season in 2004, North Texas' Jamario Thomas. Thomas was a true freshman from Spring Hill newly on the North Texas campus in '04. All he did was set a North Texas record for most rushing yards in a single season. He led the nation with 180.1 yards per game and was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and Freshman of the Year. Thomas had six 200 yard games in 2004. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry against three Big 12 opponents. The Mean Green would go 7-5 in 2004 and lose in the New Orleans Bowl to Southern Miss. Thomas was a one hit wonder, never rushing for more than 700 yards in any of his next three seasons for North Texas.
Aaron Jones, UTEP 1,773 yards in 2016
Aaron Jones makes our second 2016 rushing season on the list with his 1,773 yard performance for the Miners. Jones averaged an amazing 7.7 yards per carry which was best in CUSA and 4th in the NCAA among individuals with 100 or more carries. Jones did all that while missing parts of two games due to injury. He twice averaged 12 or more yards including 12.5 yards per carry in his final game for the Miners against North Texas. He rushed for 123 yards on 6.8 yards per carry against Texas in Austin. The Miners finished 4-8 in 2016.
Robert Newhouse, Houston 1,757 yards in 1971
The elder statesman on the list, the late great Robert Newhouse thrived in Bill Yoeman's veer offense. As a fullback, Newhouse rushed for the third most yards in 1971 behind OU's Greg Pruitt and Cornell's Ed Marinaro. Newhouse averaged 6.3 yards per carry. He was 3rd in rushing attempts in the NCAA in '77. Newhouse had seven straight 100 yard games in 1971. He rushed for 182 yards against Bear Bryant and Alabama '71. The Cougars finished 9-3 and lost to Colorado in the Bluebonnet Bowl.