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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Tony Hunt, Penn State Nittany Lions
Tony Hunt, Penn State Nittany Lions. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /

Tony Hunt was originally going to play his college ball at USC, but made the wise decision to come to Penn State once he found out that Reggie Bush was going to commit to the Trojans. Though Hunt wasn’t the all-time collegiate talent of Bush, he certainly had himself quite the career playing for the Nittany Lions in the mid-2000s.

After playing sparingly as a freshman in 2003, Hunt saw his touches increase from 36 to 208 as a sophomore in 2004. Hunt would rush for 777 yards on 169 carries for seven touchdowns, as well as catch 39 passes for 334 yards out of the Penn State backfield.

But it would be in year three in the program where Hunt really made his stride. “Big Game” Hunt would rush for over 1,000 yards in his junior season with the Nittany Lions in 2005. He rushed for 1,047 yards on 174 carries for six touchdowns, to go along with 20 catches for 206 yards. This would be the second year in a row that he would lead Penn State in rushing.

Hunt would come back to Happy Valley for his senior season in 2006, one that would help cement his legacy as an all-timer at the running back position for Penn State. He rushed for career-bests in yardage with 1,386 and touchdowns with 11 on a staggering 277 carries. Hunt also hauled in 27 catches for 259 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver.

He would parlay his strong senior season into being named the 2007 Outback Bowl MVP, as well as the 2007 Senior Bowl MVP. Hunt became the fifth Penn State running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He was the school’s second all-time leading rusher once he entered the 2007 NFL Draft behind only Curt Warner.

Hunt played briefly in the NFL as a third-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. His football legacy starts and ends with his time in Penn State. He had 654 carries for 3,320 yards and 25 rushing touchdowns, to go along with 88 catches for 799 yards and three receiving touchdowns. Though maybe not the most talented Penn State tailback, Hunt was undoubtedly one of the hardest workers in Nittany Lions football history.