3 Greatest Running Backs in Notre Dame History

3 Greatest Running Backs in Notre Dame History


From 1899 to 2020, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have waved their banner proudly through 113 football seasons, with a total record of 852-312-33. Their strong running game has not always transferred into the pro level of late, but historically, they have had some famous rushers.

Names like Jerome Bettis, Joe Theismann, George Gipp, Ricky Watters, Vagas Ferguson and Allen Pinkett have all stood the test of time in Notre Dame football history. Some younger stars that have seen action in the NFL are C.J. Prosise, Theo Riddick and Josh Adams.

Most of these players have an argument to be in the conversation around the greatest Fighting Irish running backs of all-time, but these three accomplished the most while wearing the uniform.

3. Reggie Brooks (1989-92)

The overall numbers may be lacking because Reggie Brooks actually played both defensive back and running back during his time at Notre Dame. His first two seasons he hardly played on offense, but after impressing in limited action running the ball as a Junior, Brooks was given the ball full-time his Senior year and he set fire to the league. In 1992, Brooks ran for 8.0 yards per carry with 13 touchdowns, recording the fourth highest single-season rushing total in school history (1,343 yards), including a 227 yard game against USC (No. 5 in school history). This iconic season earned Brooks an All-American honor, fifth place voting in the Heisman, and a second round NFL draft status.

2. Johnny Lattner (1951-53)

A football career cut short by active duty in the military, Johnny Lattner's fame as an athlete ended with Notre Dame after a career-ending knee injury during deployment. He was a two-time Consensus All-American during his three year span, as well as a two-time Maxwell Trophy winner for the best all around player in the sport. With the only Heisman Trophy by a Fighting Irish running back in school history, Lattner will always be remembered by the Notre Dame faithful.

1. Autry Denson (1995-98)

The top true rusher in Notre Dame history, Autry Denson is the Notre Dame all-time career rushing leader, with 4,318 yards, eclipsing 1,000 yards in three separate seasons. He also had 46 total touchdowns and averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a member of the Fighting Irish. Denson played four seasons in the NFL, but was better known for his time at Notre Dame.

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