WVU Football History: The 10 Greatest Running Backs Through the Years
Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
WVU has produced some great running backs. I'm going to tell you about the 10 greatest running backs in WVU history in chronological order.
You could argue which one was the best of all-time at WVU, but each one was a great running back in his time.
Some of these great runners had a long pro career; others were either Heisman candidates, All-American or were a primary reason for their team's success at WVU. They were all incredibly talented football players.
Which one you you choose as the best overall running back, regardless of time period?
Comments are welcome and appreciated!
Let's get started with one who played from 1950-1954
Tommy Allman: 1950-1954
Photo credit: WVUSports.com
Tommy Allman, 6'0" 200 lbs., was an All-American fullback for the Mountaineers. Starting in 1953, WVU had three consecutive eight-win seasons. It also had five Southern Conference championships in six seasons.
During his career, Allman gained 918 yards on 175 carries for a 5.25 average per carry and scored eight TDs. He also caught 14 passes for 217 yards and one TD.
Guard Gene Lamone and center Bob Orders were also All-Americans. The Mountaineers finished with an 8–2 record in 1953 and were ranked 10th in the AP Poll. They lost to Georgia Tech 42-19 in the 1954 Sugar Bowl.
In 1954, WVU finished 8-1 with a 13-10 loss to Pitt.
Garrett Ford: 1965-1968
Garrett Ford, Sr. 6'2", 224 lbs., was the first WVU running back to gain over 1,000 yards. He was a bruising fullback on a Mountaineer team that went 9-1 in 1968.
They beat South Carolina 14-3 in the 1969 Peach Bowl to finish with their first 10-win season since 1922 and were ranked 17th in the AP Poll.
Ford rushed 2,166 yards on 453 attempts for a career average of 4.78 per carry and scored 16 TDs. He was a second team All-American in 1966.
After a year with the Denver Broncos, he returned to WVU as an assistant to Bobby Bowden. Ford was the first African-American coach in WVU history
Bob Gresham: 1968-1970
Photo credit: wemustignitethiscouch.com
Bob Gresham, 5'11" 196 lbs., rushed for 2,181 yards on 417 carries in his career for an average of 5.23 per carry and scored 21 TDs. Gresham was the tailback with Garrett Ford as fullback, and the two were nearly unstoppable.
Together, they helped the Mountaineers to a 10-1 season, including the 14-3 win over South Carolina in the Peach Bowl. During Gresham's years at WVU, they were 25-7.
Gresham set the school’s single-season rushing record of 1,155 yards in 1969, a record that stood for 24 years. He is still 10th on the list for career rushing yardage and touchdowns. He spent six seasons in the NFL.
Kerry Marbury: 1971-1972
Photo credit: sportsintegration.wvu.org
Kerry Marbury, 5'10" 180 lbs., gained 1,665 yards in 295 carries for an average gain of 5.6 per carry. Marbury only played two years, but scored 23 touchdowns.
In 1972, Marbury ran the opening kickoff back 100 yards against Penn State. WVU was 15-8 with Marbury at tailback and played North Carolina State in the Peach Bowl, where they lost 49-13.
Marbury gained 291 yards against Temple in 1972. He left WVU after his junior year to play in the CFL.
Robert Alexander: 1977-1980
Photo Credit: WVUSports.com
Robert Alexander, 6'1", 190 lbs., came to WVU as a Parade High School Player of the Year. The state legislature even passed a resolution declaring him a "state natural resource" to convince him to play in his home state.
Alexander gained 2,456 yards in 453 carries in his career for a 5.0 average per carry. During his first three years, Alexander shared time in the backfield in a wing formation, which restricted his opportunities.
After a coaching change in 1980 allowed him to be the tailback in an "I" formation, he gained 1,064 of his yards in 204 carries.
Alexander is currently ranked seventh on the Mountaineers' all-time rushing yardage list. He played two years in the NFL.
Robert Walker 1992-1995
Photo credit: wvu100countdown.blogspot.com
Robert Walker, 5'11", 200 lbs., gained 2,620 yards in 529 carries for an average of 4.9 yards per carry and scored 16 TDs. He led WVU to an undefeated regular season in 1993, including a win over fourth-ranked Miami.
Walker sealed the game in the fourth quarter with a 19-yard run for the final score. WVU lost to Florida, 41-7, in the 1994 Sugar Bowl
WVU's record was 28-17-2 during Walker's career.
Amos Zereoue': 1996-1998
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Amos Zereoue', 5'10" 200 lbs., of solid muscle with speed to burn. In his three-year career at WVU, he gained 4,086 yards in 786 carries for a 5.2 yards-per-carry average.
Zereoue' scored 42 TDs, including one for 69 yards against Pitt on his first college carry. He set school records for yardage and TDs as a freshman.
Zereoue' was a two-time All-American and a 10th-place finalist for the Heisman Trophy. WVU had a record of 23-13 during Zereoue's career.
Avon Cobourne: 1998-2002
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Avon Cobourne, 5'8" 185 lbs., gained 5,164 yards on 1,050 carries for an average of 4.9 per carry and scored 42 TDs during his WVU career.
In his freshman year, Cobourne broke Zereoue's records and was the leading freshman running back in the nation with 1,139 yards. As a senior, Cobourne set a school record of most rushing yards in a season with 1,710 yards.
During his WVU playing time, WVU's record was 23-34
Steve Slaton: 2005-2007
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Steve Slaton, 5'10" 190 lbs., gained 3,925 yards rushing on 664 carries for an average of 5.9 per carry for his career at WVU. He also scored 55 TDs.
It certainly didn't hurt that his quarterback, Pat White, gained 3526 yards rushing during that time. Defenses could not key on either player, and they complimented each other's success.
During Slaton's career, WVU had a record of 34-5 with wins in the Sugar, Gator and Fiesta Bowls.
Noel Devine: 2007-2010
Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Noel Devine, 5'8" 180 lbs., carried the ball 728 times and gained 4,315 yards for an average carry of 5.9 for his WVU career. He also scored 31 TDs.
As a freshman, Devine gained 105 yards with two touchdowns in 12 carries in WVU's defeat of Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.
Devine was also very successful at kick returns.
WVU had a record of 38-13 during Devine's years. It played in four bowls, beating Oklahoma and North Carolina before losing to Florida State and North Carolina State.