Skip to main content

College Football: All-Time Rushing Leaders

College Football: All-Time Rushing Leaders

College Football: All-Time Rushing Leaders

After declaring that he will forgo his senior season and enter the 2020 NFL Draft, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor will finish his career high among college football's all-time leading rushers. Here are the 20 players with the most career rushing yards in NCAA Division I FBS history. (Note: The NCAA record book doesn't include bowl games for any players before 2002. This list below includes all games.)

1. Ron Dayne, 7,125 yards

Wisconsin (1996-99)

The "Dayne Train" started all four seasons and averaged 305 carries per year. What separated him from other workman backs is that he averaged 5.8 yards a carry.

2. Ricky Williams, 6,592 yards

Texas (1995-98)

Williams became the NCAA's all-time leading rusher in the now-defunct Thanksgiving Day showdown with Texas A&M in 1998. He had broken a record that stood for 22 years, but Dayne surpassed it the next season.

3. Tony Dorsett, 6,526 yards

Pittsburgh (1973-76)

Dorsett rushed for over 1,000 yards in every season from his sophomore year of high school in 1970 to the strike-shortened 1982 NFL season.

4. Donnel Pumphrey, 6,405 yards

San Diego State (2013-16)

The NCAA did not count yards in bowl games until 2002. If that practice was still in place, Pumphrey would be college football's all-time leading rusher.

5. Charles White, 6,245 yards

USC (1976-79)

White rushed for more than 3,900 yards in his final two seasons and won the Heisman Trophy in 1979.

6. Jonathan Taylor, 6,174 yards

Wisconsin (2017-19)

With a record 12 200-yard rushing games, no back has run for as many yards as Taylor has in three seasons. If he had stayed for his senior year, he would have had a very good shot at leaving Wisconsin as the FBS' all-time leading rusher.

7. DeAngelo Williams, 6,026 yards

Memphis (2002-05)

Williams' 34 100-yard rushing games and 7,573 career all-purpose yards are still NCAA records.

8. Royce Freeman, 5,621 yards

Oregon (2014-17)

Freeman is the Pac-12 career leader in rushing touchdowns with 60. He was extremely durable during his years in Eugene; his 947 attempts are 10th in FBS history.

9. Travis Prentice, 5,596 yards

Miami (Ohio) (1996-99)

A scoring machine, Prentice recorded 25 games with at least two touchdowns and left Miami with 73 career scores.

10. Cedric Benson, 5,540 yards

Texas (2001-04)

The late Benson earned consensus All-American honors and won the Doak Walker Award in 2004. He picked up at least 1,000 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in each of his four seasons at Texas.

11. Justin Jackson, 5,283 yards

Northwestern (2014-17)

Jackson is one of just three players to rush for at least 1,100 yards in each of his four seasons. He did not miss a single of the Wildcats' 51 games during his stretch in Evanston.

12. LaDainian Tomlinson, 5,387 yards

TCU (1997-2000)

Of this total, 406 yards came in a single game against UTEP in 1999. It was the first time a player broke the 400-yard mark in a single game.

13. Myles Gaskin, 5,323 yards

Washington (2015-18)

Gaskin became Washington's first true freshman to rush for 1,000 yards and finished as the school's all-time leading rusher.

14. Damion Fletcher, 5,302 yards

Southern Miss (2006-09)

Fletcher averaged 5.3 yards a carry and left Southern Miss eighth on the all-time list.

15. Anthony Thompson, 5,299 yards

Indiana (1986-89)

A stalwart in the backfield, Thompson was a two-time consensus All-American and went to three straight bowl games. Both remain the longest streak in Hoosier history.

16. Herschel Walker, 5,259 yards

Georgia (1980-82)

Walker is the only player in history to finish in the top three of the Heisman voting three times and would have likely rushed for more than 7,000 yards had he not forewent his senior year for the USFL.

17. Archie Griffin, 5,177 yards

Ohio State (1972-1975)

The only two-time Heisman Trophy winner averaged over 6.1 yards a carry in his final three seasons. Griffin became the first player to start in four Rose Bowls after leading the Buckeyes to Big Ten conference titles in every season.

T-18. Avon Cobourne, 5,164 yards

West Virginia (1999-2002)

In 2002, Cobourne set the Mountaineer single-season rushing record with 1,710 yards. Steve Slaton broke that record four years later.

T-18. Garrett Wolfe, 5,164 yards

Northern Illinois (2004-06)

Wolfe rushed for 1,976 yards during his junior season with the Huskies. He would have finished far higher on this list had he not declared early for the NFL draft, where the Chicago Bears selected him in the third round.

20. Montee Ball, 5,140 yards

Wisconsin (2009-12)

After solid freshman and sophomore years, Ball flourished and posted more than 3,700 rushing yards in his final two seasons.