Here’s my top 10:
1. Curt Warner, 1979-82
Warner finished his career as the No. 2 career rusher in Penn State history with 3,398 yards, and scored 24 touchdowns. He led the team in rushing for three straight seasons, during which time the Lions went 31-5 and won three straight bowl games. He holds the team record for most 100-yard games with 18, the last being a 117-yard, two-touchdown performance in the 27-23 Sugar Bowl win over Georgia that gave the Nittany Lions the 1982 national championship. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
In just two seasons, Barkley already is ranked 12th on the program’s all-time rushing list with 2,572 yards and holds the fifth-best single-season total of 1,496 yards, set last year. His 1,972 all-purpose yards over the same period rank second. He scored 22 touchdowns last season, third most in school history, and his 30 points (five touchdowns) against Pittsburgh tied him for fourth on the all-time list. He also has two of the longest runs in program history – 81 yards at Purdue and 79 yards in the Rose Bowl against USC.
3. John Cappelletti, 1972-73
The Upper Darby product enjoyed a historic season in 1973, when he won the Heisman Trophy and led the Nittany Lions to a 12-0 record. He rushed for 1,522 yards – fourth most in school history – and set a program record for carries in a season (286) and a game (41). He rushed for more than 200 yards in three straight games in the final month of the season, including a career-best 220 against North Carolina State. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
4. Lenny Moore, 1953-55
Moore, often praised by Joe Paterno as the greatest football player he ever saw, became Penn State’s first 1,000-yard rusher in 1954 (1,082 yards) and led the team in rushing for three straight years. He ranks 14th on the school’s all-time rushing list with 2,380 yards. He also starred as a defensive back and a return man, and he played 12 years in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts and earned a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
5. Lydell Mitchell, 1969-71
Mitchell, of Salem, N.J., scored more rushing touchdowns (38) and total touchdowns (41) than anyone in school history, and his 26 TDs in 1971 are the most in one season. His 1,567 yards rushing in 1971 remained a school record for more than 30 years. He is eighth on the career rushing list with 2,934 yards. A fine receiver and return man, he is ninth all-time for the program in all-purpose yardage with 3,904. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
6. Larry Johnson, 1999-2002
Johnson put together an all-world season in 2002, when he rushed for 2,087 yards, the most in school history, and won the Maxwell Award. He led the nation that year in rushing (160.5 yards per game) and all-purpose yardage (204.2) while scoring 20 touchdowns on the ground and averaging 7.7 yards per carry. He put together the four highest performances in a single game, capped by his 327 yards on 28 carries at Indiana. He is seventh on the Lions’ career rushing list with 2,953 yards.
7. Ki-Jana Carter, 1992-94
Carter put together a record nine 100-yard games, finished fourth in the nation in rushing, and scored 23 rush touchdowns in helping lead Penn State to an undefeated season in 1994. His 1,539 yards that year are third all-time and he placed second in the Heisman Trophy balloting. His 7.2 yards per carry in his career is the highest mark in program history. He gave up his senior year to enter the NFL draft, and Cincinnati took him as the top overall pick, making him the first Penn State player to go No. 1.
8. Blair Thomas, 1985-87, 1989
Thomas, a graduate of Frankford High School, is fourth on the career rushing list with 3,301 yards. He is the only player in school history to have two seasons of at least 1,300 yards, with a career best of 1,414 yards in 1987 (sixth all-time). In his senior season, he rushed for 1,341 yards after sitting out all of 1988 recovering from major reconstructive knee surgery. His 8.4 yards per carry in 1986 is the team’s best average in a season. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1990 NFL draft, going to the New York Jets.
9. Curtis Enis, 1995-97
Enis rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his last eight games during the 1997 season, when he gained 1,363 yards, scored 19 touchdowns and averaged 6.0 yards per carry. His 17 career 100-yard games are tied for second with Carter and Thomas. He is fifth on the school’s career rushing list with 3,256 yards, and his 36 touchdowns are second only to Mitchell. His 241 yards against Southern California in the 1996 season opener are the most gained on the ground by a sophomore.
10. D.J. Dozier, 1983-86
In a tight defensive duel at the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, Dozier’s 6-yard run midway through the fourth quarter was the difference in a 14-10 win over Miami that gave the Nittany Lions their second national championship. He is the only player to lead the Lions in rushing in each of his four seasons, with a high of 1,002 yards as a freshman. His 3,227 rushing yards are sixth on the Penn State career charts and he ended his career with 25 TDs.
Honorable mention: Evan Royster, 2007-10
Royster is the school’s all-time rushing leader with 3,932 yards and is the only Penn State player to post three 1,000-yard seasons, with a high of 1,236 yards as a sophomore in 2008. He is No. 1 all-time in career carries with 686 and tied for fifth in rush touchdowns with 29. He rushed for 100 or more yards in a game 15 times, with a career high of 187 yards in a 2010 win over Temple.
Honorable mention: Franco Harris, 1969-71
Harris, of Mount Holly, N.J., a teammate of both Lydell Mitchell (1969 through 1971) and Charlie Pittman (1969), is 19th on the program’s all-time rushing list with 2,002 yards, with his best season of 684 yards coming in 1971. His best game came as a senior against Iowa, rushing for 145 yards – one of five career 100-yard performances – and four touchdowns. He is tied for 13th at Penn State in career rushing TDs with 24.