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Perfect Position Room: Running Back

What would a dream position room consist of at running back?

Miami v Syracuse Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images

If there’s one thing the Miami Hurricanes can do better than most universities, it’s develop top quality running backs.

From strong college players to Hall of Fame NFL careers, names like Frank Gore, Willis McGahee and Ottis Anderson grace the record book with their star-studded performances.

Throughout the years, the Hurricanes have had running back rooms stacked with NFL players, however how would a position room of some of the top performers in Hurricanes rushing history look?

What are we looking for in a perfect running back?

  1. Vision: A top running back should be able to find the holes in the offensive line and attack them.
  2. Footwork: Without top footwork, a running back lacks the ability to turn runs into big plays.
  3. Quickness: Speed is a good trait but without top-notch quickness, you won’t pick up the four or five yards needed.
  4. Ball Security: Fumbling the football isn’t a good thing.
  5. Third-Down Skills: A running back who can pass block and catch the football will be an invaluable piece to any team.

The Players:

Players are listed in order of when they played

Alonzo Highsmith (1983-1986) - 6-1, 234 pounds:

Alonzo Highsmith Sr.
Alonzo Highsmith not only helped win the Hurricanes win a National Championship but is also one of the strongest running backs in Hurricanes history.
Getty Images archive

Inducted to the Miami Hurricanes Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, Highsmith has the perfect size for a running back and could do it all on the field. In four seasons for the Hurricanes, Highsmith finished his ‘Canes career with 2,850 scrimmage yards and 25 total touchdowns and helped the Hurricanes win the 1984 Orange Bowl.

Edgerrin James (1996-1998) - 6-0, 220 pounds:

Edgerrin James
During his time in Coral Gables, Edgerrin James became one of college football’s premier running backs.

Edgerrin James is arguably the best running back in team’s history and it’s a well-deserved title. A shifty and strong back, James finished his college career with 2,960 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns. In 1999, James was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts with the 4th overall pick.

Willis McGahee (2001-2002) - 6-0, 236 pounds:

Willis McGahee evades
Willis McGahee finished 2002 with 1,753 rushing yards, the most in school history.

Even though McGahee played just two seasons in Coral Gables, his 2002 season is the best a running back has had. In 2002, McGahee ran for 1,753 yards and 28 rushing touchdowns, which ranked 2nd in the nation. Although injuries hurt his career at points, McGahee has light feet and shifty hips. McGahee went on to play ten season in the NFL, including four in Baltimore.

Clinton Portis (1999-2001) - 5-11, 223 pounds:

Rose Bowl X
The lead running back for the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, Portis (28) helped lead the Hurricanes to an undefeated season and National Championship.

In 2001, Clinton Portis was the starting running back of the best college football team of all-time. In that season, Portis eclipsed 1,200 rushing yards and scored 10 times on the ground. Although Portis has a relatively small frame, his ability to stay on his feet and his explosiveness makes him a terrific running back. Portis later went on to play nine seasons in the NFL.

Duke Johnson (2012-2014) - 5-9, 210 pounds:

Miami v South Florida
Despite being only 5-9, Duke Johnson finished his Hurricanes career with the school record for career rushing yards.
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The leading rusher for the Hurricanes, Johnson finished his Hurricanes career with 3,519 rushing yards and 26 rushing touchdowns while adding 719 receiving yards. Johnson is one of the best do-it-all running backs in Hurricanes history with his ability to do it all, including returning kicks. Johnson currently plays for the Cleveland Browns and was drafted in the third round of 2015.

Which former Miami Hurricane running backs would make your perfect position room?