The 2,000 Yard Club of College Football

A Single Season Stat That's Shared by Elite FBS Athletes

Johnson leaps over line for TD
Larry Johnson rushed for 2,087 yards in 2002 for Penn State.  Ezra Shaw / Staff / Getty Images  

Rushing for over 2,000 yards in a single season is an amazing feat and very few college football players have hit the mark. It is a goal of every running back in the FBS and, interestingly enough, the number who make it seems to be increasing every year.

Star Running Backs Who Rushed for 2,000 Yards

College football is filled with star players and among running backs, those who can rush for over 2,000 yards join a special club of elite athletes. As of the end of the 2015 season, only 26 have topped this lofty goal and they are among the best players the FBS has seen.

This distinguished group is led by the spectacular Barry Sanders, who ran for 2,628 yards for Oklahoma State in 1988. Other high-profile backs to pull off the feat include Marcus Allen, LaDainian Tomlinson, Ricky Williams, and Larry Johnson.

With spread offenses, faster-paced games, and longer schedules, more running backs are joining this club than ever before. You will notice that 5 of the 26 players on this list have been added since 2010, that's almost one-fifth of the club.

School Year Yards Yards per Carry
Barry Sanders* Oklahoma State 1988 2,628 7.64
Melvin Gordon * Wisconsin 2014 2,587 7.54
Kevin Smith * UCF 2007 2,567 5.70
Marcus Allen* USC 1981 2,342 5.81
Derrick Henry * Alabama 2015 2,219 5.62
Troy Davis Iowa State 1996 2,185 5.44
Andre Williams * Boston College 2013 2,177 6.13
Ladainian Tomlinson* TCU 2000 2,158 5.85
Tony Dorsett * Pittsburgh 1976 2,150 5.81
Mike Rozier * Nebraska 1983 2,148 7.81
Matt Forte Tulane 2007 2,127 5.89
Ricky Williams * Texas 1998 2,124 5.88
Ron Dayne * Wisconsin 1996 2,109 6.49
Larry Johnson* Penn State 2002 2,087 7.70
Donald Brown * Connecticut 2008 2,083 5.68
Lorenzo White * Michigan State 1986 2,066 4.93
Byron Hanspard Texas Tech 1996 2,084 6.15
Damien Anderson* Northwestern 2000 2,063 6.63
Rashaan Salaam * Colorado 1994 2,055 6.90
Charles White * Southern California 1979 2,050 6.17
Tevin Coleman Indiana 2014 2,036 7.54
Ron Dayne * Wisconsin 1999 2,034 6.04
Christian McCaffrey * Stanford 2015 2,019 5.99
J.J. Arrington * California 2004 2,018 6.98
Ray Rice * Rutgers 2007 2,012 5.29
Troy Davis Iowa State 1995 2,010 5.83

*Includes bowl game stats.
Stats according to Sports-Reference.com.

The Official Stats Are a Little Murky

College football stats have changed many times over the years and some 'official' lists do not include all of the players listed above. Also, there was a point in the early 2000s when bowl games began to count toward a player's official season yards. At times in this transition, the school would count the bowl game while the NCAA did not.

At any rate, it's important to acknowledge that each of these players did rush for over 2,000 yards in the season. That alone is a great accomplishment, especially when compared to the NFL where, as of 2016, only seven running backs have joined the 2,000-yard club and the last was Adrian Peterson in 2012.

As student athletes, these players deserve the credit.