Athlon Sports released their list of the Top 50 running backs of the BCS era today, and actually took it as far as ranking them up to the Top 100. Two USC Trojans made the cut, with Reggie Bush coming in at No. 6, and LenDale White getting the nod at No. 40.
Bush as the sixth back is an interesting selection for Athlon, as he’s listed one spot behind a top five of Adrian Peterson, Ricky Williams, Ron Dayne, Darren McFadden and LaDainian Tomlinson.
On the surface, those four backs all put up better career totals than Bush, who finished with 3,169 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns, good for seventh all-time on the USC list, before having his final 15 games wiped from his record as part of NCAA sanctions. They were also four-down backs and prototypical halfbacks and tailbacks, while Bush was a different breed of back.
That doesn’t mean, however, that they all had bigger impacts on the game, as Bush–outside of maybe Barry Sanders– was arguably the most explosive and talented player to ever play at the college level. His 2005 season has become a nearly unattainable benchmark for future backs of his caliber, as Bush ran for 1,740 yard on just 200 carries while splitting time at running back with LenDale White, and flashing highlight reel runs left and right.
Is that enough to put Bush ahead of the record holders for career yardage(Dayne) and single game yardage(Tomlinson)? The argument definitely carries weight, as Bush on his best day at USC was far superior to Dayne, and Tomlinson put up his gaudy numbers against mid-major defenses while at TCU.
As for LenDale White, while his No. 40 ranking may seem low at first thought, when you look at the backs ahead of him, like Shaun Alexander and Steve Slaton, it’s hard to imagine who would be worth of dropping in favor of White.
All in all, the list is a nostalgic way to remember the great and unsung careers of guys who never made it big in the NFL, like Michigan’s trio of Mike Hart, Chris Perry and Anthony Thomas.
Other Pac-10/12 players to crack the Top 50:
15. LaMichael James, Oregon
18. Toby Gerhart, Stanford
26. Marshawn Lynch, Cal
29. JaQuizz Rodgers, Oregon State
30. Ken Simonton, Oregon State
31. Maurice Jones-Drew, UCLA
38. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
46. J.J. Arrington, Cal