We are about one-third of the way through the 2015 season and many are already dubbing it the “Year of the Running Back.” Given that, we thought it would be worth checking in on the historical record to see how this year’s crop of runners compares (so far) to Heisman winners of yore.
More specifically, which Heisman winners had the most rushing yards after four games? Which Heisman winner scored the most rushing touchdowns after four games?
Here are the lists:
Most rushing yards after four games
Allen rushed for 210, 274, 208 and 233 in his first four outings on his way to producing college football’s first 2,000-yard rushing season. Jackson opened with 290 yards and followed that up with 205 yards before being held to 80 in game three. Sanders had relatively mild numbers in three of his first four games, failing to top 178 yard in any of them, but a 304-yard effort in his third game helped to sweep him over the 800-yard mark by game four.
Most rushing touchdowns after four games
As one might expect, Sanders’ touchdown production was off-the-charts from the getgo. He had five touchdowns against Tulsa in game three and four touchdowns against Colorado in game four. Ricky Williams was feast or famine, getting six touchdowns in the opener before scoring just one TD in his next two games. He then scored six against Rice in game four. Both Simpson and Owens opened with four-TD efforts.
And how do the running backs from 2015 compare?
With 631 yards and eight rushing touchdowns after three games, LSU sophomore running back Leonard Fournette is already ahead of where several Heisman winners were after four games. Indiana junior Jordan Howard (675 yards), San Jose State senior Tyler Ervin (641 yards) and Notre Dame senior C.J. Prosise (600 yards) also compare favorably after four games while FSU sophomore Dalvin Cook has 476 yards after three games. Ervin, NC State junior Matthew Dayes and Boise State sophomore Jeremy McNichols each have nine rushing touchdowns through four games, while Navy senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds has needed just three games to hit nine scores.
There’s along way to go in this Heisman race, but it could be the “Year of the Running Back” no matter who takes home the trophy.