Penn State Football: 15 best running backs in Nittany Lions history

Saquon Barkley, Penn State Nittany Lions. (Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images)
Saquon Barkley, Penn State Nittany Lions. (Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images) /
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Curt Warner, Seattle Seahawks
Curt Warner, Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Curt Warner started from humble beginnings growing up in rural West Virginia. He ended up not only becoming one of the greatest running backs in Penn State history, but professionally with the Seattle Seahawks. Warner first came to Penn State in 1979, playing sparingly as a true freshman. But by his sophomore year in 1980, there was no stopping Warner in the Nittany Lions backfield.

Warner saw his carries double as a sophomore, as he had 922 rushing yards on 196 rushing attempts for six touchdowns. By his junior year, Warner emerged as an All-American tailback for Penn State, a program that was about to enter its golden era under head coach Joe Paterno.

Warner had 171 carries for 1,044 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior in 1981. He would be named First-Team All-American for his accomplishments on the gridiron that season. In what was his senior season in 1982, Penn State was able to put it all together for the greatest season in school history up to that point.

Penn State would win the national championship by beating Herschel Walker and the Georgia Bulldogs in the 1983 Sugar Bowl. Warner had 198 carries for 1,041 yards and eight rushing touchdowns, as he would be named Second-Team All-American. After that, it was time for Warner to embark on a promising pro football career.

Seattle would take him No. 3 overall in the iconic 1983 NFL Draft. He made three Pro Bowls in Seattle, as well as three All-Pro Teams before retiring as a member of the Los Angeles Rams in 1990. But it is Warner’s college football legacy at Penn State that ended up setting him apart.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. Warner finished his four-year career at Penn State with 649 carries for 3,398 rushing yards and 24 rushing touchdowns. He still ranks third all time in rushing yards in school history behind only Evan Royster and Saquon Barkley. This means Warner was Penn State’s all-time leading rusher when he entered the 1983 NFL Draft.