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Jack Follman’s All-Time Conference RBs by NFL Success

A pair of USC greats fight for the top spot in this list of legendary running backs

Posted on May 26, 2022

  By Jack Follman, SuperWest Sports

We continue our rankings of the all-time best players from current Pac-12 schools by position based on their NFL success.

This time we look at running backs.

Pac-12There are a lot of Pac-12 Heisman winners (or near Heisman winners) at the position but there aren’t as many NFL Hall of Fame running backs.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some all-time greats here, including a pair of USC legends who fight for the top spot.

Marcus Allen | Oakland Raiders

1. Marcus Allen, USC
One of the best running backs career-wise from any conference, Allen’s numbers and honors are stunning and he gets the nod over Simpson for his overall career package.

An NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP punctuate his career.

O.J. Simpson | Getty Images

2. O.J. Simpson, USC
It’s so close between Marcus Allen and Simpson for me. Simpson was breathtaking in his career when he was at his peak but he was not as long as Allen was.

Marshawn Lynch |

3. Marshawn Lynch, Cal
Beast Mode exploded on the league as a Seahawk. The Bear alum was just downright dominant and consistent as a runner in the 2010s as was a huge part of the Seahawks’ big run under Pete Carroll and a Super Bowl championship.

Frank Gifford | New York Giants

4. Frank Gifford, USC
He’s more remembered now as a media member but Gifford was a Hall of Fame running back in the league in the 50s.

He won an MVP and a championship with a bunch of All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.

Hugh McElhenny | San Francisco 49ers

5. Hugh McElhenny, Washington
One of the stars of the league in the 50s, McElhenny is a Hall of Famer, has his number retired by the 49ers, and has five first-team All-Pro honors.

Steven Jackson | David Welker/Getty Images

6. Steven Jackson, Oregon State
Jackson consistently tore up the league as a Ram. He was one of the best backs in the league for a very long time, year after year. He had more than 11,000 yards and nearly 70 rushing TDs.

Ernie Nevers | Pro Football HOF

7. Ernie Nevers, Stanford
We go way back to the 20s with this Hall of Famer who you can’t skip over just because of time. He’s an All-Decade-level player who took home a bunch of All-Pro honors and some records.

John Henry Johnson | Pro Football HOF

8. John Henry Johnson, Arizona State
Another Hall of Famer who tore it up in the 50s. He made two All-Pro teams, four Pro Bowls and won an NFL Championship as an all-time 49er.

Maurice Jones-Drew | Steve Greenwood/Getty Images

9. Maurice Jones-Drew, UCLA
Jones was scary good at his peak, twice first-team All-Pro and leading the NFL in rushing in 2011 as a Jaguar.

His overall career numbers are stellar too, with more than 8,000 rushing yards and 68 rushing touchdowns.

Corey Dillon | Cincinnati Bengals

10. Corey Dillon, Washington
Dillon put together a fantastic overall career, rushing for more than 11,000 yards and scoring more than 80 touchdowns. He went to four Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots.

11. Chuck Muncie, Cal
12. Jamal Anderson, Utah
13. Freeman McNeil, UCLA
14. Wendell Tyler, UCLA
15. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

—More from Jack Follman—