Georgia Tech Football: Top 5 Running Backs in School History
Historically speaking, Georgia Tech is largely underrated for the most part at the tailback position, in my opinion. The Yellow Jackets have had some incredibly talented half backs over their storied history, so I wanted to take a moment and pick out my top five.
It was a difficult task, and I welcome any disagreements or other comments you may have. Enjoy!
5. Jerry Mays (1985-1989)
Jerry Mays missed the last five games of the 1985 season with a broken hand and was still named ACC Rookie of the Year. He was Tech's leading rusher the next season with 842 yards, but suffered a severe knee injury in the final spring practice of 1987 and wouldn't return for that season.
Again, Mays came back strong from injury in 1988 and rushed for 942 yards. In his final season at Georgia Tech, he rushed for 1,349 yards and had 275 more yards receiving.
Even plagued by injuries, Mays is still second all time on Georgia Tech's rushing and all-purpose yard list. How much more could Jerry Mays have accomplished if he'd stayed healthy?
39 Games, 3,699 Rush Yds, 28 Total TDs
ACC Rookie of the Year- 1985
First Team All-ACC (AP, UPI)- 1989
Brian Piccolo Award- 1989
Japan Bowl- 1989
Georgia Tech Hall of Fame- 1997
4. Eddie Lee Ivery (1975-1978)
Eddie Lee Ivery eventually had a solid career with the Green Bay Packers, but before he was an NFL star, he was an All-American at Georgia Tech.
Ivery played all four seasons at Tech, his final two being his most productive. During his junior season, Eddie rushed for an even 900 yards and in his senior year, Ivery would rack up over 1500 yards and land himself on the AP and UPI All-American teams.
He once held the NCAA single-game rushing record for his 356-yard performance against Air Force in 1978, and still holds the Georgia Tech single-season rushing record at 1,562 yards.
44 Games, 3,517 Rush Yds, 22 Total TDs
Second Team All-American (AP, UPI) 1978
All-Southeastern Independent- 1978
Southeast Area Back of the Year- 1978
8th in Heisman Voting 1978
2009 ACC Legends Class
Hula Bowl- 1979
First-Round Pick (15th overall) 1979 NFL Draft
Georgia Tech Hall of Fame 1983
Georgia Tech All-Time Team- 1991
3. Jonathan Dwyer (2007-2009)
Jonathan Dywer came to Georgia Tech to play in the pro-style offense of Coach Chan Gailey, but the end of his freshman season would bring about the hiring of Paul Johnson from Navy. In Johnson's option attack, Dwyer played the roll of B-Back (full-back) and he thrived.
Behind senior Tashard Choice, Dwyer's freshman season rushing total was less than 500 yards, but 2008 would allow the sophomore B-Back to shine as he racked up 1,395 yards on the ground, helping his new head coach win eight games. In 2009 Dwyer again rushed for exactly 1,395 yards, winning an ACC title with the Jackets.
Choosing to leave a year early for the NFL, Dwyer eventually found himself in Pittsburgh where he is still on the roster as a backup.
38 Games, 3226 Rush Yds, 36 Total TDs
2008 1st All-American (PFW)
2008 ACC Player of the Year
2008 Consensus 1st-Team All-ACC
2009 Preseason All American
2009 1st Team All-ACC
2009 ACC Championship Team
2. Clint Castleberry (1942)
The story of Clint Castleberry is perhaps one of the saddest "what if" tales in college football history. At 5'9" inches tall and a buck fifty, the "Jackrabbit" made up for his size with heart and raw talent.
This freshman led his Yellow Jackets to a 9-0 start in the 1942 season, coached by William Alexander and assistant Bobby Dodd, but his team would drop the final two games to rival Georgia and Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
He would finish third in the Heisman vote, which was absolutely unheard of at the time for a freshman. He would also earn All-American honors for his efforts.
What makes Castleberry's story so sad is the fact that this would be his only season on the Flats. He, along with many other players around the nation, was called into military service and departed for World War II. Clint became a fighter pilot and in 1944 was listed as missing in action; today he's classified as "killed, no body."
The same war that made him eligible to play a year early would be the one that took his life. Today on the northeast corner of Bobby Dodd Stadium, you can see a jersey No. 19 on the Edge Center facade. In the storied history of Georgia Tech football, it is still the only number ever retired.
First Team All-SEC (AP)- 1942
Second Team All-American (UP, INS, NEA)- 1942
Third Team All-American (TSN, AP)- 1942
Third in Heisman Voting- 1942
Georgia Tech Hall of Fame- 1956
Only Retired Number Georgia Tech Football History (19)
1. Robert Lavette (1981-1984)
Robert Lavette's college career ended after the 1984 season, and he's still the all-time leading career rusher on the Flats with over 4,000 yards total. He also still holds the all-time career touchdown mark for the Ramblin' Wreck at 46.
In a stellar career that was probably a bit overshadowed by another Georgia Native, Hershel Walker, who finished with insane stats around the same time, Lavette set the standard at Georgia Tech and is yet to be matched. Though the awards didn't stack up as high as some of the others on this list due to his consistency rather than one or two gaudy seasons, Lavette's numbers speak for themselves.
43 Games, 4,066 Rush Yds, 46 Total TDs
Third Team All-American- 1984
All-ACC- 1982, 1984
Southeast Area Back of the Year- 1984
Senior Bowl- 1985
Hula Bowl- 1985
Georgia Tech Hall of Fame 1990
Georgia Tech All-Time Team- 1991
Tashard Choice (2005-2007)
P.J. Daniels (2002-2005)
Joe Burns (1998-2001)