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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Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State Nittany Lions. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

D.J. Dozier was a tremendously talented athlete coming out of Virginia Beach in high school. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers out of high school as an outfielder in the 1983 MLB Draft. Dozier would also play against future Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame center David Robinson as a youth on the hardwood. However, Dozier’s greatest sport was clearly football.

He committed to Penn State in 1983 and would exhaust his collegiate eligibility playing in State College. As a true freshman in 1983, Dozier rushed for over 1,000 yards on 174 carries for seven touchdowns. Though he never eclipsed the 1,000-yard threshold again in college, Dozier played for Penn State during its peak of the Joe Paterno era in the mid-1980s.

Penn State was coming off a national championship in 1982. Before Dozier would leave Happy Valley, Penn State would win another national title in what was his senior season. Dozier would never rush for fewer than 691 yards and four touchdowns in any of his four seasons with the program.

In what was his final collegiate game, Dozier scored the winning touchdown in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl to win the national championship over the Miami Hurricanes. Dozier would be named a consensus All-American that 1986 NCAA season, as he had 171 carries for 811 yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns.

In four years with the Nittany Lions, Dozier had 624 carries for 3,227 yards and 25 rushing touchdowns, as well as 66 catches for 613 yards and four touchdowns out of the Penn State backfield. Dozier would parlay his strong college career at Penn State into being the No. 14 overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1987 NFL Draft.

He would spend his first four NFL seasons with the Vikings before briefly playing with the 1991 Detroit Lions. Then in 1992, Dozier would make it to the big leagues and spend a little time with the New York Mets in Major League Baseball. Overall, Dozier was a fantastic freshman, a sensational senior and above all else, a championship-caliber player all four years he starred at Penn State.