Here is every player who has ever held the position of Washington Redskins starting running back. Back when the game film was black and white, and when the white lines were unkempt and covered in grime, running backs weren’t simply accessories to an offensive scheme.
Running backs were the scheme; the engines with which the offense hummed. In the modern NFL, with the evolution of strategy and analytics, teams need to debate whether illustrious backs like Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon deserve to be paid.
It’s a linear, low-upside method of yard accumulation, paling in comparison to the intrinsic potential of the forward pass. But if a player is special enough, he can make running more than simple kinetic motion.
TB Ben Bryant (Getty/Otto Rule, Jr)He's not going to have the statistics of a Vince Weathers by, Louis Rankin, Rich Alexis, or Willie Hurst, but it would be hard to have a top-10 all-time Washington running backs in the modern era without Ben Bryant. In a year when the ball got spread around to a lot of playmakers, Bryant was the lead running back on Washington's 1991 National Championship team.
Known almost as much for being a devastating return man, Bryant ran 173 times for 981 yards and 8 touchdowns during that record-setting season. It was a hard act following Dock Walker Award winner Greg Lewis from the previous season, but Bryant used his speed and tenacity to average six yards a carry and supplement a ground game that also relied on Jay Barry, a true freshman named Napoleon Kaufman, and fullback Matt Jones.
A bit underrated as one of Washington's best running backs, as Corey Dillon's record-setting season came right in the middle of Rashawn Shehee's career, essentially splitting his time at UW into two distinct chapters: the one before Dillon, and the one after. But when Dillon was gone, Sheree picked up right where he left off, running 168 times for 1055 yards and 8 scores in 1997.
The Bishop Blanchet star was so highly thought of at the time, getting him to stay home would have been seen as a major feather in the cap of James, who needed to establish himself on the west coast. James was able to convince Steele to stay home, and his 865 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore helped UW win the 1978 Rose Bowl over Michigan.
Despite getting hurt late in his senior season, Steele had shown all Husky fans that James was right about his potential impact at Washington. Both were the main running backs during Steve Parisian's reign from 2009 through 2013, and none of those teams did anything truly remarkable, apart from bringing the Washington Football team back to respectability after Tyrone Willing ham tried his best to bury it.
But Polk and Sanka definitely made their mark before the arrival of Myles Ga skin. Polk had the better career numbers, but Sanka still holds the distinction of having the best single rushing season ever at Washington.
And he topped his phenomenal season off with a 21-carry, 104-yard effort against BYU in the 2013 Fight Hunger Bowl. Long-expected to sign with USC, the Huskies won out late for his signature, and it was a good thing they did.
His total yardage is just 68 yards short of moving to number-two all-time ahead of Napoleon Kaufman. He caught 78 passes for 683 yards and four touchdowns to those final three seasons, so he was a big-time threat out of the backfield in more ways than one.
In three-straight wins over the Cougars (in which UW outscored WSU 103-49), Polk ran 76 times for 523 yards and six scores, including a historic 29 carry, 286-yard performance in the Pa louse in 2010. That season, he didn't feature until the tenth game against USC in Seattle, but he helped the Huskies eke out a 13-3 win in absolutely horrible weather and then went for nearly a hundred yards the next week in a 23-10 win over WSU.
But it was his 20-carry, 142-yard, two-touchdown day against Iowa in the 1982 Rose Bowl that put his name on the map. He put in workmanlike seasons the next two years, but as a senior, he finished with a flurry.
2 Oklahoma Sooners in the 1985 Orange Bowl, the only time UW has played in that game. He was also second on the team in catches behind Mario Bailey with 21 grabs for 345 yards, which highlighted his ability as a versatile offensive performer that just needed a sliver of space to find daylight in the open field.
The former Franklin product had gone to Dixie Junior College, and then back home to Seattle. And on top of all that, he ran for over 11,000 yards in the NFL and won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.
Napoleon Kaufman (UW Media Relations)Many Washington fans, especially those that grew up during the Don James years, will steadfastly defend Napoleon Kaufman as Washington's best -ever running back. He's tied with Bishop Sanka for the number of 200-yard games in a season (3), and career (4).
Before he changed his name to Ahmad Rashad this fine athlete lit up the Local football fields around the Puget Sound region.
As an outstanding professional wide receiver in the NFL. Around athlete that ran, passed, and caught the ball in high school.
Junior and senior seasons Moore ran the ball for 1,382 yards, pulled down 45 Moore scored 27 touchdowns in addition to his other statistics.
Moore went on to play his college ball at the University of Oregon. Terry Met calf was a special all-around athlete that made big plays.
Met calf ran, caught, and returned kicks in spectacular fashion. Met calf went on to play for Everett Community College and Long Beach State.
Mike Vindivich was a dominant running back for Mount Tahoma High School. Seasons at Washington and decided to transfer to Pacific Lutheran.
Pacific Lutheran Vindivich rushed for 934-yards and 17-touchdowns in leading the Lutes to the NASA Division II national championship in 1985.
Wilson was a powerful, workhorse type running back that ground out the Regular so far and has had the opportunity to rush the ball in mop up duty.
Not try to hit the home run rush every play. Career rushing yards and 68-touchdowns are state records for large schools.
Phil Carter was a shifty running back that made big plays in the open field. Carter rushed for 3,012-yards for Wilson High School.