Who are the Best Running Backs in Arkansas History?

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The good folks at Arkansas Sports 360 recently published my piece about the 10 best running backs in Arkansas history. There are a few no-brainers –  Darren McFadden, Basil Shabazz, DeAngelo Williams, Michael Dyer, Jerry Eckwood – but rounding out the list was tough. I settled on Cedric Cobbs, Jim Pace, Bruce Fullerton, Peyton Hillis and Jonathan Adams.

This meant I had to leave leave out all-timers like  Bobby Mitchell, Madre Hill, Dennis Johnson and Cedric Houston. If the focus is limited to high school careers, then guys like Keniko Logan, James Rouse, Broderick Green, Dederick Poole, Derek Lawson and Marcus Godfrey must be considered.

I want your input. If the Top 10 were expanded a Top 12, who then most deserves to make the cut?

Remember, we can only consider those players who played high school ball in Arkansas. Naturally, when many people think of great “Arkansas” running backs, they equate that to great “Razorback” running backs. In that case, I would say the best three Hog running backs from out of state are:

Ben Cowins [St. Louis, Miss.]
[1975-78]
[6-0, 192 pounds]

On the field, the hard-nosed Cowins was just about as steady as they came. Year in, year out, he was good for at least 1,000 yards – till at last he was the most prolific rusher in UA history. Today, his 3,570 career yards trail only McFadden.

Felix Jones [Tulsa, Okla.]
[2005-07]
[5-10, 210 pounds]

The lightning to D-Mac’s thunder, Jones’ most impressive ability was his balance and elusiveness. In 2007, he knocked out nearly nine yards a carry – in the SEC. Like “Felix the Cat” himself, that mark will be hard to topple.

Dickey Morton [Dallas, Texas]
[1971-73]
[5-10, 160 pounds]

Before Jones set the new Razorback standard for short and quick, it belonged to Morton. The Texan spurned the Aggies and Longhorns to join Arkansas, a move that paid dividends when the scatback was featured in Frank Broyles’ I-formation as a senior. He responded with a season that ranks as the sixth-best in school history, highlighted by a 200-yard half against Baylor.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. In the pre-integration 1960s, Little Rock Hall had a succession of great running backs. You’ve already mentioned All-American Bobby Kinkead (1963-65) who was followed by Steve Hockersmith (1966 – 1968) also an All-American who was recruited by dozens of major colleges before signing with the UA where his career was cut short by neck injury. Perhaps even better was the rarely mentioned Thomas Henry (1968 – 1970), likely Hall’s first starting black player, who helped lead the Warriors to a rare victory over arch-rival powerhouse Fort Smith Northside and the 4A championship his senior year.

    As for Ben Cowins, he’s always been one of my favorite Razorbacks — three 1000 yard seasons, including his sophomore year when he was essentially the entire offense, and never missed a game for injury.

  2. You left the no brainer off the top 10. Madre Hill left high school with the state rushing record. He left Arkansas with the season record. He would have been the best ever except for the knee injuries.

  3. Madre and Bobby Mitchell just missed the cut. I grant you that from a purely individual standpoint Madre is likely superior to Pace and Fullerton. But I also thought about how players lifted their prep programs in a regional and even national respect, and that’s a main reason I went with the old timers.

  4. My name is Douglas Wilson and I played high school football along the same time as Jerry Eckwood did. I played at Rivercrest High school (Cortez Kennedy) If you were aware of my stats then you would add me to your list, they are quite impressive. I played at the University of Wyoming and Fesista Bowl VI. I was was all state in high school. Jerry did not make all state or at least I did not see him at the game 🙂

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