Who would be your Fantasy Big Ten Running Back?

Created on Apr. 04, 2014 9:08 PM EST

So last week we choose our Big Ten QB and now it's on to the running backs. We are going to stick to players from the last 15-20 years so it is a period covered rather than having players listed that no one ever actually saw play. To be eligible players had to have rushed for over 1,000 yards at least twice. While stats are important, talent is also considered so it is not just the best numbers but a combination of talent and production. 

And the candidates are...

Anthony Thomas (1997-2000) Michigan
The "A-Train" ,as he was affectionately known by Michigan fans, gave the Wolverines plenty to cheer about during his time in Ann Arbor. He would split time as a freshman and sophomore combining for 1,300 yards and 17 TD's. During his junior season he would rush for over 1,200 yards and 16 TD's. He would help Michigan finish 10-2 and defeat Alabama in the Orange Bowl. It would be the first overtime game of the BCS era. He would go on to have an even better senior season rushing for over 1,500 yards and 16 TD's. Thomas would be drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2nd round of the 2001 NFL draft. 
Rushing Yards    4,098
Rushing TD's      49
Yards Per Carry   4.8

Ron Dayne (1996-1999) Wisconsin
The "Great Dayne" of Wisconsin owns the record for most rushing yards in a career. You can't really do anymore than Ron Dayne did while at Wisconsin. He had 2,000 yard seasons in his first and last seasons. He was a USA Today All-American as a senior in high school. He won the Heisman as a senior. He led Wisconsin to two consecutive Rose Bowl wins and be named Player of the Game each year. He would break Ricky Williams rushing record only one year after Williams set it. Ron Dayne would go on to be drafted with the 11th pick in the 1st round by the Giants.
Rushing Yards       7,125
Rushing TD's         71
Yards Per Carry      5.8

Laurence Maroney (2003-2005) Minnesota
Maroney would benefit from being part of an offense that was built to run the ball. He would split time with Marion Barber in 2003-2004 as well as Gary Russell in 2005. As a freshman Laurence would average 6.9 ypc. and rush for 10 TD's. Maroney would increase his rushing yards ever year as well as have at least 10 TD's in each season. Maroney would become the first Golden Gopher to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first 3 seasons. Maroney would be named All-Big Ten first team in 2004 and 2005 and an All-American in 2005. Only 2 players on this list averaged more ypc than Maroney and both of them were the feature back. You have to wonder what kind of stats Maroney would have had if he didn't have to share the backfield. Maroney would be drafted by the New England Patriots with the 21st pick in the 1st round.
Rushing Yards      3,933
Rushing TD's          32
Yards Per Carry      6.0

Damien Anderson (1998-2001) Northwestern
Damien benefited from playing in Randy Walker's spread offense and was fully utilized. As a sophomore Damien ran for over 1,100 yards and 3 TD's. No one could have predicted the breakout season Anderson would have as a junior as he would break numerous school records. As a junior in 2000 Anderson would rush for over 2000 yards and 23 TD's while averaging 6.6 ypc. He would be an All-American and finish 5th in the Heisman. As a senior he would get roughly half of the carries he did as a junior. While he did not have the same success as a senior he did finish with over 700 yards rushing and 8 TD's. Damien is the only player on this list that was not drafted. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a Free Agent.
Rushing Yards      4,485
Rushing TD's        38
Yards Per Carry     4.7

Tyrone Wheatley (1991-1994) Michigan

Wheatley would be a 3 time All-Big Ten running back. He would rush for over 1,000 yards 3 seasons in a row. As a sophomore he would lead the Big Ten in rushing and average 7.3 ypc. In 1992 he would be the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He would follow that up with strong junior and senior campaigns that were not quite as successful because of injuries and missed time. As a junior he would finish 8th in the Heisman voting. Even considering his time missed he finished both years with over 1,000 yards rushing each year and 25 total TD's. Tyrone would be drafted with the 17th pick in the 1st round of the NFL draft by the New York Giants.
Rushing Yards      4,178
Rushing TD's         47
Yards Per Carry      6.1 

Mike Alstott (1992-1995) Purdue
I think a lot of people have forgotten about Alstott. When people think Purdue they think of spread offenses and huge passing numbers. A little known fact is Alstott was the original "A-Train" before Anthony Thomas. Mike finished his career just before the spread offense took root in West Lafeyette. He was the definition of a power back. At 248 pounds he was known for the smash mouth, move-the-pile running style. He was a full back playing running back for the Boilermakers. He would average over 5 ypc and over 10 TD's per season his last 3 years at Purdue. He was a great player on a bad team. In fact Alstott would play on only one Purdue team with a winning record which was 5-4-2 in 1994. He still went on to be named an All-American in 1995. I personally remember hearing stories of how he would pull a car in the off season to keep in shape. Alstott would be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2nd round of the NFL draft.
Rushing Yards       3,635
Rushing TD's         39
Yards Per Carry      5.6   

Eddie George (1993-1995) Ohio State
George would not see much time as a freshman and sophomore at Ohio State. He would amass almost all of his stats there in two short years. In his first two years he had less than 100 carries and less than 400 yards rushing. He literally came out of nowhere as a junior to rush for 1,442 and 12 TD's. As a senior he would rush for over 1900 yards and 24 TD's. He would run for 314 yards in a single game against Illinois. Eddie would lead the Buckeye's to a perfect record and a #2 ranking entering the season finally against arch rival Michigan and a spot in the National Championship game at stake. However Ohio State would lose to Michigan 23-31 and then lose the Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl. Eddie George would win the Heisman as a senior and be drafted by the Houston Oilers with the 14th pick in the 1st round of the NFL draft.
Rushing Yards      3,768
Rushing TD's         44
Yards Per Carry     5.5

Ki-Jana Carter (1992-1994) Penn State
Carter would spend only 3 seasons in Happy Valley. He played sparingly as a freshman running for 264 yards and 4 TD's. His earned the starting job during his sophomore season while rushing for 1,026 yards and 7 TD's. While he had a good year as a sophomore he exploded as a junior on the most talented offense Penn State had ever produced. The team went undefeated, finishing 12-0 and #2 in the country. Carter would lead his team to the Rose Bowl against Oregon and on the very first play from scrimmage would run straight through the Oregon defense for an 83 yard touchdown. Carter only carried the ball 198 times but amassed 1,539 and 23 TD's while averaging 7.8 ypc. He would be an All-American. He would finish 2nd in the Heisman race to Rashaan Salaam of Colorado. I think it is worth noting that Carter averaged 1.1 ypc more than anyone else on this list. Carter would go on to be the #1 pick in the NFL draft by the Bengals. He is the only player on this list who went on to be the top pick in the draft.
Rushing Yards        2,829
Rushing TD's          34
Yards Per Carry       7.2
Montee Ball (2009-2012) Wisconsin
(portion copied from earlier post)
As a sophomore Ball would rush for 996 yards and 18 TD's while backing up John Clay. As a junior Ball took over the bulk of the carries and responded by having a video game like season. He rushed for over 1900 yards and 33 rushing TD's. He would be name an All American and would tie Barry Sanders record for total touchdowns with 39. Instead of heading off to the NFL Ball came back for his senior season. He had a slow start to the season which may many suspect he made a mistake by not leaving. However Ball responded by rushing for over 1800 yards and 22 TD's to finish the season. He would win the Doak Walker Award and set the running back career total touchdown record with 83 TD's. Ball would be drafted in the 2nd round of the NFL draft by the Denver Broncos.
Rushing Yards        5,140
Rushing TD's           77
Yards Per Carry       5.6

Honorable Mention:
Marion Barber III           Minnesota
Curtis Enis                      Penn State
Mike Hart                        Michigan
Beanie Wells                 Ohio State
Robert Holcombe         Illinois
Sedric Shaw                  Iowa
Anthony Davis               Wisconsin
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