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PFB Staff Ranks the Top 5 Running Backs in Oklahoma State History

Who the PFB staff picks as the best five running backs in OSU history.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

The greatest running back in college football history played at Oklahoma State, and he ranks fifth in the program’s all-time rushing list.

Needless to say, the Cowboys have had some elite running backs come through Stillwater over the years, so as we continue through the dog days of summer awaiting for the 2023 season opener, myself, Kyle Boone and Kyle Cox thought we would each list our top Cowboy rushers throughout time and combine our ballots for a poll.

To do this, we numbered out to seven to try to avoid ties. The No. 1 back on a poll got seven points, the No. 2 got six and so forth down to the No. 7 back getting one point.

Lists like this can turn into nitpicking. We’re going to try to avoid that and just celebrate this for what it is: a fun thing to do in July.

This list in particular is so hard to pick because (at least for us three) the top three are undisputed, which means every other running back in OSU’s history is fighting it out over two spots.

I’ve tried to temper things long enough, so without further ado, here are the Top 5 running backs in OSU history, according to the PFB staff.

1. Barry Sanders

No surprise, Oklahoma State’s Heisman Trophy winner and the only player with a statue outside Boone Pickens Stadium is the top player among his position group.

Sanders’ 1988 season is among the greatest college football seasons in history. He ran for 2,850 yards and 42 touchdowns, both the most in a season in college football history. That year he ran for 300+ yards in four games. For reference, David Thompson is the only other Cowboy with a 300-yard game ever — Sanders had four in one season.

Sanders’ 60 touchdowns scored are the most of any Cowboy in history and that is with Sanders only starting for one season thanks to our No. 2 running back in OSU history.

2. Thurman Thomas

Oklahoma State’s all-time leading rusher, Thurman Thomas ran for 5,001 yards in his time in Stillwater. He ranks second in program history in total touchdowns scored with 50.

His best season came as a senior in 1987 when he ran for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns. His best game that year came against Iowa State when he ran for 293 yards and four touchdowns.

Thomas had the production and the longevity. He would’ve been the No. 1 back in program history for nearly any other program in the country — it just so happened the best to ever do it also played at Oklahoma State.

3. Terry Miller

With as great as Thomas and Sanders were, it could be easy to forget about the greatness that was Terry Miller.

Playing at OSU from 1974 to 1977, Miller is the second-leading rusher in program history with 4,754 yards to go with his 49 rushing touchdowns, a stat he ranks ahead of Thomas in. Miller averaged 113.2 rushing yards a game which ranks behind only Sanders among OSU backs who played at least 20 games.

Miller joins Thomas as the only backs in OSU history with at least 1,600 rushing yards in two separate seasons. Miller’s best year came in 1976 when he ran for 1,887 yards (the third-most in a season in program history) and 27 touchdowns (the second-most in a season in program history).

4. Kendall Hunter

About 19 years after Sanders hoisted the Heisman Trophy, Kendall Hunter started a Cowboy career that ended with him rushing for 4,181 yards (fourth-most in program history) and 37 touchdowns (fifth-most in program history).

Hunter ran for 1,000 yards twice as a Cowboy with his best year actually coming as a sophomore in 2008 when he dashed for 1,555 yards and 16 scores.

He was the running back for a generation that propelled the Cowboys up a rung or two in national perception in Mike Gundy’s formative years as a head coach.

5. Chuba Hubbard

In 2019, Chuba Hubbard became just the second running back in program history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. He ran for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns that season.

Hubbard finished his career with 3,459 rushing yards, which ranks eighth in program history, but that 2019 season was enough for him to end up in our Top 5. He ran for 296 yards against Kansas State in 2019. It was the first time since 2004 a Cowboy had rushed for at least 260 yards in a game.

Honorable Mentions

Bob Fenimore: It feels criminal that a legend like Bob Fenimore could be left off this list, but that just goes to show how deep the Cowboys have been at the position over the years. Fenimore, OSU’s star that led the then-Aggies to their unbeaten, Sugar Bowl-winning 1945 campaign, ran for 28 touchdowns from 1943 to 1946. But running the ball was only part of the story for Fenimore as he also excelled as a passer, a defender and even a punter.

Justice Hill: There might not be a more beautiful sight to see on a Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium than Justice Hill jump-cutting a defender out of his cleats. Hill finished his career with 3,539 rushing yards (seventh in program history) and 30 touchdowns (ninth in program history).

Joseph Randle: The workhorse for OSU’s Big 12 championship-winning 2011 squad, Joseph Randle knew where the end zone was. Despite being 10th in career rushing yards with Oklahoma State, Randle’s 40 rushing touchdowns ranks fourth in program history.

Also considered: David Thompson, Ernest Anderson, Tatum Bell

What Ifs

What if Jaylen Warren spent more than a year in Stillwater: Jaylen Warren was ridiculously fun to watch as he helped the Cowboys to a Fiesta Bowl win in the 2021 season. A Utah State transfer, Warren rushed for 1,216 yards and 11 touchdowns in his lone season in Stillwater. Had he been a Cowboy all along, who knows where he could’ve climbed on this list.

What if Chuba Hubbard played more: After his NCAA-leading 2019 season, Hubbard was hampered with injuries during the already pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Hubbard was also part of a by-committee backfield in 2018 with Justice Hill, LD Brown and J.D. King. Had Hubbard had more time as a featured back, it would’ve been interesting to see where his numbers would’ve ended up.

What if Barry Sanders started more than one year: What I just said about Hubbard, now extrapolate that. Sanders’ lone year as a starter was the greatest rushing season in NCAA history. What could have happened had he had two or three years as a starter?

Individual Polls

Marshall ScottKyle BooneKyle Cox
1Barry Sanders1Barry Sanders1Barry Sanders
2Thurman Thomas2Thurman Thomas2Thurman Thomas
3Terry Miller3Terry Miller3Terry Miller
4Chuba Hubbard4Kendall Hunter4Kendall Hunter
5Bob Fenimore5Bob Fenimore5Joseph Randle
6Kendall Hunter6Justice Hill6Chuba Hubbard
7Justice Hill7Chuba Hubbard7Justice Hill

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