The 10 greatest running backs in Miami Hurricanes football history

Willis McGahee carries the ball
Willis McGahee carries the ball / Jed Jacobsohn/GettyImages

From legendary quarterbacks to historic coaches to iconic receivers, the Miami Hurricanes could complete an all-time roster for the ages.

One position that many football fans forget about when it comes to the Canes is all of Miami’s heroic running backs.

Over the years, Miami has had their backfield carried by incredibly talented backs, making an unstoppable offensive force when paired with elite quarterbacks and an indomitable offensive line.

Which ten running backs stand atop the Hurricanes’ record books throughout Miami’s near century of college football?

bratton. . . player. . 1984-1987. Melvin Bratton. Melvin Bratton. 10. 834

  • 1,417 rushing yards
  • 26 rushing touchdowns
  • 1,084 receiving yards
  • 6 receiving touchdowns

In the mid to early 1980s, Mel Bratton was a star for the Hurricanes.

His brightest shining moment was in the Canes' 1987 national championship game. While, literally, carrying Miami to victory, Bratton devastatingly injured his knee.

Bratton wasn't selected until the seventh round of the 1989 NFL Draft due to his fragility on the ground but he was a legendary running back for the Hurricanes.

. foreman. 1970-1972. . Chuck Foreman. 834. Chuck Foreman. 9. player.

  • 1,631 rushing yards
  • 13 rushing touchdowns
  • 732 receiving yards
  • 3 receiving touchdowns

Now in the Miami Sports Hall of Fame, Chuck Foreman was a beast for opponents' defensive lines to attempt to stop.

With 16 career touchdowns and nearly 2,400 all-purpose yards, Foreman was as close to unstoppable as one can get.

"Chuck Forman has that extra move to don't teach, you have to be born with it," head coach Fran Curci said.

Stephen McGuire. . 834. . Stephen McGuire. . 1989-1992. player. Stephen McGuire. 8

  • 1,953 rushing yards
  • 35 rushing touchdowns
  • 163 receiving yards

Despite an injury late in 1991 season, Stephen McGuire earned nearly 2,000 career rushing yards over four seasons with the Miami Hurricanes.

Most notably, the Florida State Seminoles simply couldn't find a solution to the talented running back.

McGuire earned 176 yards against FSU during his redshirt sophomore season. The next year, he had 142 rushing yards and the game-winning touchdown against the Noles.

2007-2010. 7. Graig Cooper. player. 834. Graig Cooper. . Graig Cooper. .

  • 2,383 rushing yards
  • 13 rushing touchdowns
  • 402 receiving yards
  • 3 receiving touchdowns

A star from the jump, Graig Cooper earned a shocking 682 rushing yards during his freshman season for the Canes.

Over the next two seasons, Coopers' rushing stats reached 2,383 total yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Shockingly, Cooper went undrafted during the 2011 NFL Draft and never found his footing in the league.

James Jackson. 6. . 1996-2000. 834. James Jackson. player. James Jackson . .

  • 2,950 rushing yards
  • 31 rushing touchdowns
  • 278 receiving yards
  • 3 receiving touchdowns

Creeping toward the 3,000-rushing yard mark, James Jackson was an unstoppable force on the ground.

Jackson only played in 2 games during his first season with the Canes, but the following four years saw an explosion of carries, yards, and touchdowns.

Over five seasons, Jackson had 3,228 all-purpose yards and 34 total touchdowns.

1999-2001. Clinton Portis. 5. player. Clinton Portis. . . . Clinton Portis. 834

  • 2,523 rushing yards
  • 20 rushing touchdowns
  • 272 receiving yards
  • 3 receiving touchdowns

Over 29 games, Clinton Portis had 440 carries for 2,523 yards on the ground and 20 rushing touchdowns.

While simultaneously running track for the Hurricanes, Portis became a beloved figure at the U.

With 23 career touchdowns and nearly 2,800 total yards, Portis cemented himself as a legend for Miami and was selected as the 51st overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.

. 1983-1986. 4. . Alonzo Highsmith. Alonzo Highsmith. player. 834. Alonzo Highsmith.

  • 1,873 rushing yards
  • 18 rushing touchdowns
  • 977 receiving yards
  • 7 receiving touchdowns

A college football legend, Alonzo Highsmith was a star for the Miami Hurricanes and went on to be a star for the Houston Oilers.

Originally recruited out of high school to become a defensive star for the Canes, Highsmith was quickly converted into a fullback for Miami. A dual-threat athlete, he had 2,850 total yards and 25 touchdowns.

HIghsmith was selected third overall 1987 NFL Draft and ten years later was inducted into the UM Sports Hall of Fame.

. Ottis Anderson. . 834. Ottis Anderson. Ottis Anderson. 1975-1978. . 3. player

  • 3,331 rushing yards
  • 15 rushing touchdowns
  • 539 receiving yards
  • 5 receiving touchdowns

The most career rushing yards in Miami football history belongs to the one-and-only Ottis Anderson who earned 3,331 yards on the ground over his four year career with the Canes.

While Anderson seemed to be able to run up and the down the field with ease, he only found the end zone 20 total times, which is what's preventing him from standing atop this ranking.

Anderson finished his collegiate career with 3,870 all-purpose yards, was selected eighth overall in the 1979 NFL Draft, and won two Super Bowl rings with New York Giants.

Willis McGahee. . . player. 2001-2002. Willis McGahee. 2. 834. . Willis McGahee

  • 2,067 rushing yards
  • 31 rushing touchdowns
  • 348 receiving yards

The youngest player on this list, Willis McGahee played for the Hurricanes at the turn of the century and was dominant on the ground.

He carried the Canes to their National Championship victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2001 and was the Big East Offensive Player of the Year.

With 2,067 career rushing yards and 31 touchdowns, McGahee went on to play a decade in the league after being selected 23rd overall in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Edgerrin James. player. Edgerrin James. 1996-1998. Edgerrin James. . . . 1. 834

  • 2,929 rushing yards
  • 32 rushing touchdowns
  • 595 receiving yards
  • 3 receiving touchdowns

A member of the UM Sports Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame, Edgerrin James is undeniably the greatest Miami Hurricanes running back of all time.

Despite only playing three seasons for the Canes, James had 2,929 total yards on the ground and an astonishing 32 rushing touchdowns. He also had 595 yards through the air for an additional 3 touchdowns.

James was selected fourth overall in the 1999 NFL Draft. He went on to a historic career in the league for the Indianapolis Colts.

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