Clemson's 10 Best: Top Running Backs in Program History

JP-Priester

Clemson has seen a number of talented running backs come through its football program over the years. Some were stars before ever stepping foot onto campus, while other developed into stars while in the program.

Which of those backs are the best of the best though? In a continuation of our "10 Best" series at All Clemson, today we count down the ten best Clemson running backs of all-time.

10. Buddy Gore (1966-1968)

Gore led the Tigers in rushing three straight years and led the ACC in rushing in 1966 and 1967. He won ACC Player of the Year in '67 and left school with 2,571 career yards, despite playing in just 30 games over three years. 

9. Travis Zachery (1998-2001)

Finished his career with 3,058 rushing yards and 4,391 all-purpose yards. Was first team All-ACC in 2000 after rushing for 1,012 yards, becoming just the eighth player in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. He tallied more than 100 career receptions and left Clemson leading the school in all-time touchdowns with 50.

8. Terry Allen (1987-1989)

Left as school's second all-time leading rusher with 2,778 yards. Averaged more than five yards per carry over his career and was the top back on Danny Ford's final three teams. He went onto to spend more than a decade in the NFL after being drafted in the ninth round by the Minnesota Vikings in 1990.

7. Fred Cone (1948-1950)

Cone is in the Clemson Ring of Honor. After not having played high school football, he had eight 100-yard rushing games under legendary head coach Frank Howard. Finished with 2,183 rushing yards and was Clemson's first ever 2,000 yard rusher.

6. Andre Ellington (2009-2012) 

Ellington was one of the better all-purpose backs to come through the program. He had over 3,400 career rushing yards and more than 4,500 all-purpose yards, both of which are top five in school history. He averaged more than five yards per carry, while also hauling in 59 receptions over his career. He was just the third different player to reach 1,000 rushing yards in multiple seasons. He was a sixth-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 and spent the next five years playing for the Cardinals and Texans.

5. James Davis (2005-2008) 

Finished his career with 3,881 career rushing yards and 47 rushing touchdowns, which at the time was a school record for rushing touchdowns. He made an immediate impact as a freshman, rushing for 879 yards and winning ACC Rookie of the Year. Davis was one-half of the duo known as Thunder and Lightning along with C.J. Spiller and was a sixth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2009 NFL Draft. 

4. Raymond Priester (1994-1997)

Priester averaged more than 100 yards per game in 1995 and 1996, and left school as the Tigers all-time leader in rushing yards with 3,966. A record that stood until 2019. Was second team All-ACC in 1995 and 1996, and was first team All-ACC as a senior in 1997. In his senior season he came up just 44 yards short of becoming the first Clemson back with three different 1000-yard seasons. He was a fifth-round pick by the St Louis Rams in the 1998 draft. 

3. Wayne Gallman (2013-2016)

One of the more underrated running backs in the country during his time at Clemson, Gallman amassed 3,429 rushing yards during his career as a Tiger. He also had 65 receptions and tallied 36 total touchdowns in his 42 career games. He was the feature back on the Tigers 2016 team that won a national championship, and was an eventual fourth round pick of the New York Giants in 2017. 

2. C.J. Spiller (2006-2009)

Spiller accumulated 7,588 all purpose yards over his career, which is still a school record. He finished with 3,547 rushing yards and 51 touchdowns. In 2009 he became Clemson's first ACC Player of the Year Award winner since 1987, and was the MVP of the 2009 ACC Championship Game, despite the Tigers losing. He was an unanimous first team All-American in 2009 as well as being the fourth overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2010.

1. Travis Etienne (2017-2020)

Etienne has shattered numerous school and conference records in his first three seasons at Clemson, only two of which was he a starter. He is currently the schools all-time leading rusher with 4,038 yards and owns the school and ACC record with 56 rushing touchdowns. He has averaged almost eight yards per carry over his career and has won back-to-back ACC Player of the Year Awards. And he still has one more season to go. 

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