SALT LAKE CITY — As I've watched John White pile up outstanding rushing numbers this season and climb the single-season University of Utah rushing charts, a question has continued to strike me: Who is the greatest running back in Utah football history?
Is it Mike Anderson or Del Rodgers? Carl Monroe or Chris Fuamatu-Maafala? Let me be clear here, I'm not talking about the greatest statistical running back in Utah football history, rather the greatest running back that's ever played in the program.
Purely by the numbers, Monroe's season in 1981 is the best single-season effort a Ute has ever produced. His 309 carries and 1,507 yards both rank atop the all-time single-season list. Eddie Johnson holds the career rushing mark at 3,219 yards, while another Eddie, Eddie Wide, has the most consecutive 100-yard games at six. Rodgers has the most 100-yard games in a career at 12.
So how would you go about determining who is the BEST ball carrier in Utah football history?
I enter this discussion a tad handicapped. My firsthand knowledge of Utah football only spans the 10 years that I have lived here. In my time, I've seen Dameon Hunter, Marty Johnson, Brandon Warfield, Quinton Ganther, Darrell Mack, Wide and now White.
Each of these backs possessed different skill sets that made them unique and brought them into the discussion. I never had the chance to witness the greatness of Johnson, Tony Lindsay or Rodgers, but I've heard tales from those who did.
So what makes a running back the greatest? Speed, strength, elusiveness all go without saying. But to be the best you've got to have something a little special. Something that makes teammates want to follow you. Call it the "IT" factor.
In my 10 years of covering the Utes, White is the best that I've seen. His ability to put up the numbers that he has at his size (just 5-foot-8 and 186 pounds) is astounding on its own. But when you factor in that Utah has had no real semblance of a passing game this year and the defenses have had White as their No. 1 target, his accomplishments this season are even more unbelievable.
In addition to the physical attributes on the field, teammates and coaches absolutely love White. His personality and love of the game is infectious for everyone around him.
White continues to climb the single-season rushing charts at Utah. Right now he sits at No. 4 on the single-season rushing yards list, only 14 yards behind Mack and 206 yards behind Hunter. Both marks are well within reach this season.
If he goes big over the final couple games and manages 317 yards he will eclipse Monroe, who sits in the top spot with 1,507 yards.
In my decade in the Beehive State, White is the best back I've seen play for the Utes. But let me pose the question to you. Who is the best running back to have played on the hill for the Utes? Use your own criteria and post a message online or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and who you think is the best to ever tote it for the Utes.
Bill Riley can be heard as the radio voice of the University of Utah on game days and also on weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on the "Bill and Spence Show" on ESPN Radio 700 AM.
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