Welcome back, NFL fans! This is my second installment of my series of NFL fun facts. With the 2012 NFL draft fast approaching, I think it would be interesting to research trends among current NFL producer by position relative to the players’ NCAA conferences. As some of you may know, the first blog in the series was about NFL quarterbacks. This blog will consist of running backs that contributed to their teams during the 2011 season. Unlike the quarterbacks, which I decided to focus on those who had started/played significantly for at least 13 regular season games, I will base these fun facts on the Top 48 most productive NFL running backs during the 2011 regular season by their former Alma Maters. This will give us an idea of each conference’s impact on the NFL at the running back position. Enjoy!
Note: The fun facts will be based on various stats of the 2011 season’s 48 most productive running backs and categorized according to the collegiate conference during the time they played (NO quarterbacks).
FUN FACT # 1: The Big 12 and SEC tied for the most former running backs among the Top 48 league rushers.
Both conferences led the way with eight rushers apiece. Ironically, each of those conferences only had one 1,000 yard rusher. The PAC-12 had the second most with 7 rushers among the Top 48. There were even four running backs on the list from non-FBS schools. The Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences were the only FBS schools that did not have a running back among the Top 48.
FUN FACT #2: The PAC-12 had the most former running backs that rushed for at least 1,000 yards.
They topped the list with four 1,000 yard rushers, and all seven former PAC-12 running backs ran for at least 500 yards for their respective NFL teams. The Big East had three rush for over 1,000 yards, and the Big 10 (2) was the only other conference that had more than one gain over 1,000 yards on the ground.
FUN FACT #3: The most yards per carry were dominated by the PAC-12 conference alums.
With seven running backs collectively averaging a whopping 4.62 yards per carry, NFL teams with PAC-12 running backs got the most bang from their running games, which is interesting considering that conference isn’t know for having stout run defenses. The former Big East running backs were not far behind, averaging 4.57 per carry, and the Conference USA running backs collectively averaged 4.52. The three former ACC running backs among the Top 48 rushers had the worst average with 4.15 per carry.
FUN FACT #4: The PAC-12 also dominated with the most total number of rushing touchdowns in 2011…
…but they only averaged 5.9 touchdowns per player, which was middle of the road compared to the other eight conferences that consisted of multiple runners, and a slightly worse average than the four former FCS backs. The BIG 10 actually had the best rushing touchdown average with 7.5 per player. The Big East and MAC running backs had the next best average with 7 touchdowns apiece. The seven former BIG 12 runners had the worse touchdown average per back with only 3.7.
And there you have it. Productive NFL running backs can come from any college, but it is interesting to know which conferences have produced the most productive backs over the last decade or so. And with the 2012 NFL draft brings a new crop of potential ball-carriers looking to make their marks in the NFL. This is all for now until my next blog’s subject: Pass-catchers…