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Top Ten Pac-12 Senior Running Back Seasons of the Past Decade

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Toby Gerhart rumbled his way to 28 touchdowns in 2009 and the best senior season put together by a Pac-12 running back during the last decade.
Toby Gerhart rumbled his way to 28 touchdowns in 2009 and the best senior season put together by a Pac-12 running back during the last decade.

With John White, Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas, Stepfan Taylor, Cameron Marshall, Isi Sofele, Curtis McNeal, Johnathan Franklin and now Silas Redd all carrying the ball in the Pac-12 this season, there has probably never year where the backfields of the conference have been more well stocked. On top of that, other than Thomas and Redd, every one of those guys is going to be a senior.

Great seasons by senior running backs are relatively rare, as most standout running backs will declare for the draft early. This is why you won't see a bevy of the best runners to play in the conference in recent history like Reggie Bush, Marshawn Lynch, Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew and LaMichael James. Because of this trend, it is likely that one or more of the many talented senior backs in the conference this year will put together a season on the level of the ones highlighted here.

1. Toby Gerhart - Stanford - 2009

Gerhart was close to taking home the Heisman in 2009 and arguably should have as he ran for more than 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns - a number that would be impressive for a quarterback to throw let alone a running back to pick up on the ground. Gerhart was a throwback style back that was tough and fit perfectly in Jim Harbaugh's scheme in Palo Alto.

2. J.J. Arrington - Cal - 2004

The only guy on the list to run for 2,000 yards, and the only player other than Marcus Allen to ever eclipse that mark in the conference, Arrington also teamed with Aaron Rodgers to put together the best season of the Jeff Tedford era in Berkeley.

3. Jerome Harrison - Washington State - 2005

Harrison set the Cougars single-season rushing record and led the nation with his 1,900 yards in 2005 and got into the end zone 16 times. Harrison was a dangerous and shifty back who seemed to almost break a big run every time he got the ball.

4. Justin Forsett - Cal - 2007

Jeff Tedford has a reputation as being a great quarterback guru, but honestly, it seems like he has produced a lot more great running backs during his time at Cal than quarterbacks. Forsett didn't quite put together the year Arrington did, but racked up more than 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns.

5. Yvenson Bernard - Oregon State - 2007

Bernard capped off a consistent and productive year with more than 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns while helping the Beavers to one of their best seasons of the Mike Riley era.

6. Adimchinobi Echemandu - Cal - 2002

The guy with the best name in the conference in recent years also put together one of the best senior seasons put together by a running back in recent years. Echemandu wasn't flashy, but was a tough and consistent helped bring Cal back from the basement of the conference with more than 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns.

7. Jeremiah Johnson - Oregon - 2008

Johnson quietly bridged the gap between Jonathan Stewart and LaMichael James, and while he wasn't as dynamic as either of those backs, he fit well into the Ducks offense and ran for more than 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns.

8. Quinton Ganther - Utah - 2005

Ganther was the star on one of the Utes' weaker teams in recent history and helped lead the team to a win in the Emerald Bowl with more than 1,100 yards and 7 toudowns.

9. Terrence Whitehead - Oregon - 2004

Whitehead came before the glut of prolific backs of the Chip Kelly era at Oregon, but he was no slouch himself in his senior year, rushing for more than 1,100 and 6 touchdowns while also being a receiving weapon. However, it was part of the Ducks last losing season.

10. Bobby Purify - Colorado - 2004

There hasn't been many highlights for Colorado during the last ten years, but Purify and the Buffaloes 2004 campaign was, as they won the Big 12 North and Purify ran for more than 1,000 yards.

Honorable Mention

Matt Asiata - Utah - 2008, Hugh Charles - Colorado - 2007, Chris Markey - UCLA - 2006, Louis Rankin - Washington - 2007, Chauncey Washington - USC - 2007