Oklahoma football: Former Sooner RBs churning out NFL yards

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 01: DeMarco Murray
NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 01: DeMarco Murray /

Over the years, Oklahoma football has been the beneficiary of a some outstanding running-backs. A number have gone on to have productive years in the National Football League.

Among the names of former Sooners who stood out on the gridiron in college and made a name for themselves, as well, at the next level are two-time All-Americans and Heisman Trophy winners Billy Sims and Steve Owens.

Joe Washington and Greg Pruitt, also two-time All-Americans at Oklahoma, had 9- and 12-year careers in professional football and put up solid career rushing yards in the NFL.

Those are the more notable names from the past. But there are a couple of former Sooner running backs who are still playing on Sundays and moving up fast on the list of NFL career rushing leaders.

Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray, both of whom rank in the top-seven of Oklahoma career rushing leaders, have combined to win three of the last five NFL rushing titles.

Adrian Peterson, who played at Oklahoma from 2004-06 and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in his sophomore season (2005), is currently No. 16 on the all-time NFL rushing list with 11, 747 yards accumulated over 10 pro seasons, all with the Minnesota Vikings.

Peterson, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, has twice won the NFL rushing title, in 2012 and 2015.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 18: Adrian Peterson /

The player nicknamed “AD” (translation: “All Day,” referring to his ability to get stronger as the game goes on) came within eight yards of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season NFL rushing record in the 2012 season when he ran for 2,097 rushing yards to lead the league. Even more remarkable, those rushing yards came less than a year after Peterson had surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered late in the 2011 season.

Peterson also won the NFL rushing crown in 2015 with 1,485 yards. That came a year after being suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of child abuse against his four-year-old son. Peterson played only one game for Minnesota in the 2014 season.

In his 10 NFL seasons, Peterson has rushed for over 1,000 yards seven times.

Peterson will play for the New Orleans Saints this season, after signing with the Saints as a free agent earlier this year. The former Oklahoma All-American is one of just four players in the history of the NFL who has averaged 4,85 or more yards per rushing attempt with at least 1,000 career carries. Peterson has averaged 4.9 yards on a total of 2,418 carries in his 10-year NFL career.

Murray won the NFL rushing crown in the 2014 season, playing for the Dallas Cowboys. His rushing total that season was 1,845 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. That was Murray’s best year in six NFL seasons (four with Dallas and one each with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tennessee Titans). He had his second best rushing season in 2016, producing 1,845 yards in his first season with the Titans.

Murray has gained 6,515 net rushing yards in his six NFL seasons, which places him second all-time in NFL rushing yards among former Sooner running backs. He ranks 74th on the career NFL rushing list.

In addition to Peterson and Murray, who are still playing and already rank one and two among Oklahoma running backs who have gone on to play in the NFL. three other former Sooners rank in the top 150 on the NFL career rushing leaderboard.

Greg Pruitt is No. 99 with 5.672 rushing yards in 12 NFL seasons. Billy Sims is 127th with 5,106 yards in five seasons, in a pro career cut shot by a career-ending knee injury. “Little Joe” Washington checks in at No. 144 on the all-time NFL rushing list. Washington ran for 4,839 yards in a nine-year NFL career.