10 greatest running backs in Penn State football history

Penn State has a remarkable history of dominant running backs, but these 10 stood out amongst the rest in program history. With D.J. Dozier and Ki-Jana Carter on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot, where do those legends rank?
Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26)
Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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. 491. Larry Johnson. player. 4. 1999-2002. . . Larry Johnson. Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson spent his first three seasons at Penn State buried on the depth chart. In 2001 as a junior, he ran for an efficient 337 yards on just 71 carries, but Eric McCoo and Zack Mills both had more attempts. Finally in 2002 as a senior, Johnson took the lion’s share of the carries and dominated college football. 

Johnson ran for 2,087 yards and 20 touchdowns on just 271 attempts, an average of 7.7 yards per carry, yet he didn’t win the Heisman Trophy. Johnson was a First-Team All-American in 2002 and became a first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in the spring of 2003. 

While it was just one elite season, Johnson was so dominant that he deserves a spot in the top 4 of all-time Penn State running backs. He broke the Penn State single-game rushing record four times that year with a 257-yard day against Northwestern, a 279-yard performance against Illinois, another 279 yards on just 19 carries against Michigan State, and a staggering 327 yards at Indiana.