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) /
4 of 16
Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State Nittany Lions. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Charlie Pittman was a very important player in the history of Penn State Football. The big running back from Baltimore was one of Joe Paterno’s first recruits to play for the Nittany Lions after he first became head coach back in 1967.

Pittman played at Penn State from 1967 to 1969, where he became an All-American during his final year in State College. Though never a 1,000-yard rusher during any of his three seasons starring for the Nittany Lions, Pittman was a model of consistency in the Penn State backfield. Penn State could count on him to have 150 carries for over 700 yards and 10 touchdowns as an upperclassmen.

Statistically, Pittman’s best year with Penn State came in 1968, as he rushed for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns on 186 carries. Keep in mind that the Nittany Lions only played in 10 games in each of Pittman’s three seasons in Happy Valley.

While 1968 was statistically better, Pittman’s major year of note at Penn State came the following year in 1969. He rushed for 706 yards on 149 carries and 10 touchdowns, earning All-American honors in the process. Pittman would parlay that into a brief NFL career with the then-St. Louis Cardinals and the then-Baltimore Colts.

In total, Pittman had 454 career carries at Penn State for 2,236 yards and 30 touchdowns. The guy averaged a rushing touchdown a game in his college career. Incredible, especially given the multi-back nature of college football in that era.

His son Tony Pittman would later play for Paterno in the 1990s. Combined, they played on three of Paterno’s five undefeated teams during his time coaching Penn State. In the games that both Pittmans started, they never lost, boasting an absolutely ridiculous 45-0-1 college record. Shockingly, neither won a national title playing for Penn State. Now, that’s unbelievable.