Ranking the 10 best USC running backs of all-time

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /
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Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

Who are the best USC running backs of all-time? Between Marcus Allen and Ronald Jones II, the Trojans have been ripe with rushing talents.

USC is known as “Tailback U” for good reason. The sheer number of top-level USC running backs produced by the Trojans going back a century is tough to match.

With five Heisman trophy-winning running backs and almost an equal number more who fell just short of securing that award, the Top 10 features only the best of the best.

Who didn’t make the cut?

Mort Kaer, USC’s first consensus All-American Mort Kaer, Erny Pinckert, a two-time All-American and model for the Tommy Trojan statue, and Frank Gifford, a College Football Hall of Famer, are among those whose era works against them with so many “modern” running backs on the board.

Jon Arnett and Joe McKnight sit firmly in the “what could have been” category, while excellent seasons weren’t enough to boost the likes of Ricky Ervins, Clarence Davis, Sultan McCullough, Fred Crutcher, Chad Morton and Curtis McNeal into the upper echelons of USC’s rushing greats.

And thanks to a new Trojan legend, Sam “Bam” Cunningham also finds himself on the outside looking in.

Without further ado, here’s a look at the 10 best USC running backs of all-time…

Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Steve Dykes/Getty Images /

10. Javorius “Buck” Allen

USC’s running back tradition is so strong that just two members of the Top 10 can’t claim All-American status. Buck Allen is one of those two.

Allen’s career was unique. In the doghouse under Lane Kiffin, the midseason firing of the head coach and a slew of injuries to the running backs ahead of him presented an opportunity to shine. As a result, in 2013 Allen went from unknown quantity, even in USC circles, to a Pac-12 star almost overnight.

Despite just 29 carries in eight games before, the “Young Buck” exploded for 133 yards rushing against Oregon State. Weeks later was dubbed USC’s team MVP after amassing a team-best 774 yards and 14 touchdowns in just six games of real action.

Returning as a redshirt junior in 2014, Allen lived up to the promise of his breakout season, rushing for 1489 yards and 11 touchdowns, the 10th-best season by a Trojan rusher ever.

As an electric pass catcher, he also added 710 career receiving yards.

With less than two seasons of action under his belt, Allen finished his career as USC’s No. 15 all-time rusher. He did so with a flare for the home run play. That’s good enough for a place in the Top 10.