Kansas 10: Most Influential Running Backs (2023)

Players, coaches, locations and opponents that have had some kind of impact on Kansas Athletics over the years

Tim Fitzgerald

Editor's note:Kansas 10 is a new feature on GoPowercat.com. We choose metrics to rank players, coaches, venues and opponents who have had some kind of impact on Kansas sports over the years. These are purely subjective ratings based on the opinions of GoPowercat.com employees. We invite you to join GoPowercat and participate in discussions on this topic and anything else related to Kansas Athletics on Wabash Station, our VIP subscriber message board.

Today's list:Who was the most influential quarterback in Kansas football history?

Here, keywords are influential. Not the biggest. There is no best statistic. Neither has the most wins. This list features running backs who changed the course of Kansas football in a positive way. As with most of these lists, we're only looking at the modern era of Kansas sports, the World War II to present day list.

Impact is a very subjective measure and we encourage our VIP members to discuss this list at Wabash Station. Did we make mistake number one? Have we left people off the list who should be on it?

Michael Bishop certainly excelled in this stretch of Kansas football, as did El Roberson and Colin Klein, who both led the Wildcats to the Big 12. You can also check out the candidates from the previous Bill Snyder era: Carl Straw, Chad May, Matt Miller and Brian Kavangh. Are we going back to the early days of K-State football when Vince Gibson flourished with Lynn Dickey, Steve Grogan and Dennis Morrison? There were others: Darrell Dickey, Josh Freeman, Jake Waters.

Actually, there are more than 10 worthy mentions, but the goal here is to identify the 10 most influential players in K-State football history. It's an exercise in comparing influences based on the long history of the Kansas football program, but let's start with this edition of the Kansas 10.

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10. Josh Freeman

With other worthy contenders including Waters, Miller, Kavanagh and Morrison, the race for the top spot is close. However, Josh Freeman burst onto the scene. What impact has Freeman had on K-State football? That's a tough question to answer since his three years in Manhattan were very turbulent years under Ron Prince as coach. Prince would be a complete disaster without Freeman, whose talent has allowed the Cats to win some big games and whose name is all over the school record books. In addition, he was selected in the first round of the NFL draft, a very significant moment in the history of the program.

9. Darrell Dickey

Time should not forget that Dickey was the first quarterback to take the program to a bowl game, an unthinkable feat as a senior in 1982. Playing for his father, Jim, Dickard led the Cats to the Independence Cup. Sure, the Wildcats lost, but the 6-5-1 campaign was the first sign of hope for the program in 40 years.

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8. Steve Grogan

Grogan and Lynn Dickey played so well in the late 60s and early 70s that Kansas retired their jersey numbers (11). Grogan's biggest contribution to K-State football didn't happen in Manhattan, though. After playing for Kansas State University until the end of the Gibson era in 1974, he was drafted by the New England Patriots in 1975. His 16-year NFL career saw Kansas State through some dismal years until he retired in 1990, when Snyder began building the program.

7. Karl Straw

Carl Straw is No. 7 largely because of one game: Kansas State's 1989 win over North Texas State, Snyder's first at Kansas State, that ended the school's 30-game winless streak. Straw threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Frank Hernandez on the final play of the game to give the Cats a 20-17 victory, but he also showed the determination Straw has shown in the nature of the game. When he shot, he was blown away, but he threw a perfect pass. During the dismal 1989 season, Straw was a warrior who did everything in his power to help turn the tide of K-State football.

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6. Jonathan Beasley

Who doesn't love Jonathan Beasley, the man who had to follow Michael Bishop's great football career for two seasons? After all, Bishop has won 11 games in each of his two seasons, which seems unmatched. Not Beasley, who is not as talented a player as Bishop, but he is another in a long line of Warriors for the Wildcats. Beasley ran and threw, at times seriously injuring his arm, for two straight seasons and compiled a two-year record of 22-4. Yes, he also won 11 games in two straight seasons, making the Wildcats one of four-year college football's best teams in wins in the 20th century. He won 44-7. Poof.

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5. Lynn Dickey

The only reason Dickey, one of the best quarterbacks in school history, isn't high on this list is the Vince Gibson era, which unfortunately doesn't provide much incentive for the program's future, but Dickey's The power of Eight's iconic victory showed K.-State fans that victory in Manhattan was possible and provided a cornerstone of hope for the plan until Snyder's arrival 20 years later.

4.Colin Klein

A Heisman Trophy finalist along with fellow Warrior Straw, Colin Kline led Kansas State to the Big 12 Championship in 2012. Klein made Bill Snyder's return from retirement an incredible story with the Coach's second conference title and the success his tenure brought. The momentum will also benefit the project in the coming years. Klein is an unconventional superstar who runs, pitches and bleeds for the Wildcats to win.

3. Robertson

Roberson was a key member of Kansas State's 2003 Big 12 championship team, one of the school's top teams that rebounded from an injury-plagued start to the season to defeat what pundits say is the Big 12's best team in the Big 12 championship game, undefeated Oklahoma. However, Roberson's career ended in K-State's 35-28 loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, a game that was amid a cloud of controversy after Roberson faced unfounded criminal charges days before the game. We should be able to judge Roberson's impact based solely on his size, but unfortunately, events in Arizona seemed to get in Snyder's way, and after losing seasons the next two years, he retired.

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2. Biskoppen Michael

After leading the program to a two-year record of 22-3, Bishop is perhaps the most talented and well-known running back in school history. Despite a heartbreaking end to the 1998 season, he quarterbacked K-State, a team that most fans consider the best in school history. Bishop's impact on the program was undeniable, and his dual-threat ability as a talented quarterback changed the entire game of college football as he employed an offense that Snyder designed specifically for him. Football programs at all levels are now replicating some of these "wild formations". Long live Michael Bishop for all he has done to change the football landscape in Kansas.

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1. Chad May

Kansas 10: Most Influential Running Backs (2)

That leaves Chad May with our number one spot. possible? Yes, Chad May. During Bill Snyder's first four seasons at K-State, the program had one winning season — although the 7-4 record in 1991 was remarkable for the time — and added an 18-26 overall record. May, who transferred from Cal-Northridge, took over in 1993 and 1994 as the team struggled to find a consistent quarterback during a 5-6 season after missing the 1992 season. He led the Cats to a 52-17 victory over Wyoming in the Bronze Bowl for their second game-winning drive and first playoff victory in school history, while plans from St. Ned never looked back. K-State would go on an 11-game hitting streak, with May's 18-5-1 record paving the way for all the great games that followed. Would Michael Bishop and all his followers be wearing purple if Chad May hadn't come to K-State and helped lead the program to two successful seasons?

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GoPowercat Publisher Tim Fitzgerald Loves Kansas State Football's 2022 Big 12 Championship Ring Design

Tim Fitzgerald

Daily delivery of GoPOWERCAT: 06.04.23

GoPowercat Publisher Tim Fitzgerald shares his thoughts on today's headlines in Kansas athletics and sports. Here is today's agenda:

Kansas State football players, coaches and staff received their 2022 Big 12 championship rings last week, and Fitz loves them. The rings may be a treasured item, but Fitz also suspects that this won't be the first championship ring that Chris Klieman's project will claim anytime soon.

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Who is the best running back in Chiefs history? ›

Career rushing yards leaders - Kansas City Chiefs 1960-2023

The Kansas City Chiefs player with the most rushing yards in franchise history is Jamaal Charles with 7,260 yards. This all-time rushing leader is followed by Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson with 6,070 yards and 6,015 yards respectively.

Who were Chiefs running backs? ›

Who was the running back for the Chiefs in the 90s? ›

Christian Emeka Okoye (/oʊˈkɔɪeɪ/; born August 16, 1961) is a Nigerian-born former American football running back for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1987 to 1992. Nicknamed "the Nigerian Nightmare", he is known for his powerful running style and ability to break tackles.

Who is the best NFL player from Kansas? ›

1Mike PennelTopeka
2Jordan PhillipsTowanda
3Blake BellWichita
4Maliek CollinsKansas City
27 more rows

Who is the Chiefs #1 RB? ›

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon's pylon race caps quarterback Patrick Mahomes' 38th touchdown pass of 2022.

Which Chiefs RB holds the team record for most rushing touchdowns in a season? ›

Priest Holmes has the most rushing touchdowns by a Chiefs running back in a season, with 27 touchdowns in 2003.

Who is the 10 Chiefs running back? ›

Isiah Pacheco
No. 10 – Kansas City Chiefs
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born:March 2, 1999 Vineland, New Jersey, U.S.
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
18 more rows

Who was the best Chiefs player? ›

Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback

He won the second MVP, Super Bowl, and Super Bowl MVP of his already illustrious career. Despite only starting for five seasons, he's already one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the history of football, only trailing the best of the best this sport has ever seen.

Did Chiefs draft a RB? ›

Kansas City Chiefs superfan Eric Stonestreet announces Kansas City's selection of Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Chamarri Conner in Round 4 of the 2023 NFL Draft with the No. 119 overall pick (via a trade with the Minnesota Vikings).

Who was the Chiefs running back in 2017? ›

Kareem Hunt

Who was the Chiefs running back in 1995? ›

Marcus Allen

Who was the Chiefs running back in 1993? ›

Marcus Allen

What was Kansas football best season ever? ›

Best season: 2007

Kansas went on to defeat the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2008 Orange Bowl, for their first and only BCS bowl victory. Kansas also saw success on the court and field in that year. In November 2007, it was the only school with its football team and men's basketball team both ranked in the AP top 10.

Has Kansas football ever been good? ›

Kansas has appeared in twelve bowl games, including three trips to the Orange Bowl (1948, 1969, and 2008). Kansas has also won six conference championships, most recently winning one in 1968.

How many NFL players came from Kansas? ›

Kansas State has had a total of 150 players selected – including six players taken in the first round – from the first NFL Draft in 1936 through the 2023 NFL Draft. Kansas State had a streak of having at least one player drafted into the NFL for 26 consecutive years (1994–2019), until it ended in 2020.

Who was the Chiefs RB when they won the Super Bowl? ›

In Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers, Williams rushed 17 times for 104 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown, and caught four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown during the 31–20 win. Williams scored a receiving touchdown with 2:44 left in the game that gave the Chiefs the lead.

Who is the Chiefs best WR? ›

Chiefs' JuJu Smith-Schuster has become the team's No. 1 wide receiver - Arrowhead Pride.

Who is number 11 on the KC Chiefs? ›

Marquez Valdes-Scantling: "Bunch of good guys from top to bottom" | Press Conference AFC Championship.

What RB has the most career rushing yards? ›

Emmitt Smith is the all-time rushing leader of the National Football League (NFL) with 18,355 career rushing yards. The running back, who spent the majority of his 15-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, became the all-time leader rusher in the NFL in the 2002 season.

What RB has the most rushing yards in one game? ›

Bears RB Walter Payton broke Simpson's single-game mark with 275 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Vikings on Nov. 20, 1977. Payton had two 200-yard rushing performances in the span of 30 days, previously going for 205 yards against the Packers.

What is the longest pick six in Chiefs history? ›

Gary Barbaro 102-YD Interception Return.

Who is the fastest person in the NFL? ›

What we do know is that the fastest official speed ever recorded belongs to Tyreek Hill. "Cheetah" reached 23.24 mph on a kickoff return against the Texans during his rookie season.

What former Chiefs running back is in critical condition? ›

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A former Kansas City Chiefs running back is hospitalized in intensive care after saving his two children in the ocean. Peyton Hillis remains hospitalized following the accident. Hillis' uncle Greg Hillis said the former NFL star is receiving treatment on his lungs and kidneys in a Facebook post.

What happened to number 25 on the Chiefs? ›

A lack of consistent production and injuries resulted in Edwards-Helaire losing his starting job to rookie seventh round pick Isiah Pacheco. On November 23, 2022, Edwards-Helaire was placed on injured reserve. He was activated from injured reserve on February 6, 2023, but was inactive for Super Bowl LVII.

Who is the Kansas City Chiefs most famous fan? ›

Paul Rudd: It would seem irresponsible not to start this list with Paul Rudd, who is arguably the celebrity most know as a diehard fan of not only the Kansas City Chiefs, but the city's baseball team, the Royals, as well.

Who has the most QB wins in Chiefs history? ›

Len Dawson was the franchise's most successful quarterback, playing in 182 regular season games (158 starts) for the Texans/Chiefs, and holds many franchise records. He was nicknamed "Lenny the Cool" for his calm composure on the field.

Who is the most winning coach in Chiefs history? ›

Andy Reid. Reid is the head coach for the Kansas City Chiefs since the 2013 season, a total of eleven years. Reid's record as the team's head coach was 116-45-0, making him the most successful head coach in Kansas City Chiefs history.

Has a RB ever been drafted #1? ›

Lowdown: Carter suffered a serious knee injury in his first exhibition game with the Bengals. He scored 15 rushing TDs from 1996-97 with the Bengals before bouncing after seven NFL seasons. He's the last running back to be selected No. 1 in the NFL Draft.

Who was the first RB taken in the draft? ›

First-round running backs: One. Player selected: Clyde-Edwards Helaire, No. 32 overall (Kansas City Chiefs).

Who was the first RB picked in the NFL Draft? ›

2021. Harris was the first running back taken in the 2021 draft, as the Steelers had an immediate need for a running back after losing James Conner to free agency.

Who was the Chiefs RB in 2016? ›

PosPlayerSummary of Player Stats
Offensive Starters
QBAlex Smith*328 for 489, 3,502 yards, 15 td, 8 int, & 48 rushes for 134 yards and 5 td
RBSpencer Ware214 rushes for 921 yards, 3 td, & 33 catches for 447 yards and 2 td
WRChris Conley44 catches for 530 yards, 0 td
20 more rows

Who was the Chiefs running back before Kareem Hunt? ›

2017 season. Following a knee injury to starting running back Spencer Ware in the Chiefs' third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Hunt was named starting running back for the Chiefs on August 27, 2017.

Who was the Chiefs running back in 2014? ›

Anthony Sherman

Who was the Chiefs running back in 1994? ›

PosPlayerSummary of Player Stats
RBMarcus Allen189 rushes for 709 yards, 7 td, & 42 catches for 349 yards and 0 td
FBKimble Anders62 rushes for 231 yards, 2 td, & 67 catches for 525 yards and 1 td
WRJ.J. Birden48 catches for 637 yards, 4 td
WRWillie Davis51 catches for 822 yards, 5 td
20 more rows

Who did the Chiefs beat in 1970? ›

The American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs defeated the National Football League (NFL) champion Minnesota Vikings by the score of 23–7. This victory by the AFL squared the Super Bowl series with the NFL at two games apiece as the two leagues merged into one after the game.

Who is the 26 year old running back in the AFC North? ›

Marlon Mack was 26 years old in the AFC in 2022.

Who was the Chiefs running back in 2009? ›

RBJamaal Charles23
FBMike Cox24
WRDwayne Bowe25
WRChris Chambers31
20 more rows

Who was the Chiefs running back in 2013? ›

RBAnthony Sherman8
WRDonnie Avery14
WRDwayne Bowe15
TEAnthony Fasano9
20 more rows

Who played for the Chiefs in the 80s? ›

The 1980 roster for the Chiefs included Steve Fuller at quarterback, Ted McKnight at running back, Henry Marshall at wide receiver, Mike Williams at tight end and Tom Condon at offensive lineman.

What is Kansas longest home winning streak? ›

The program record is 69-straight home wins from Feb. 7, 2007, to Jan. 22, 2011.

When was the last time KU football went 4-0? ›

It is hard to act like you've been there before when it has been *this* long since Kansas football has been a winning program. Behind quarterback Jalon Daniels, Kansas beat Duke 35-27 on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd to move to 4-0 for the first time since 2009.

When was the last time Kansas football went 5 0? ›

runs the ball. Saturday's upcoming game against Iowa State is not the first time Kansas football has faced the Cyclones with a chance to improve to 5-0. In fact, the last time the Jayhawks achieved the mark was against the Cyclones in the 2009 season. The two programs looked very different than what they do now.

Who has more wins Kansas or Kentucky? ›

Kentucky has a sizable lead in the head-to-head series against the Jayhawks. UK leads KU 24-10 overall entering Saturday's game. The Jayhawks, however, are 7-5 versus the Wildcats in the 20-year Self era — 3-0 vs Tubby Smith-coached Kentucky teams and 4-5 versus UK teams led by John Calipari.

Has Kansas ever beat Duke? ›

Kansas' games against Duke are almost always a close battle

Two years prior, the Jayhawks won by a pair. Kansas' biggest victory in the series came in 2013 when it won by 11. Duke's largest margin of victory came in 1989 when it won by 25.

What is the best football team in Kansas? ›

Mill Valley Jaguars

What town has produced the most NFL players? ›


With 27 players, Miami again leads the league in hometowns with the most players on 2019 NFL Kickoff Weekend rosters, the league announced today. Nearby Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has produced 14, tied for third among cities with the most players.

What city has sent the most players to the NFL? ›

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Rock Hill calls itself “Football City, USA” for a reason. The town of 75,000 people says it has turned out more NFL players per capita than any other city in the U.S.

Who is the #1 running back in the NFL? ›

PlayerRush Yds40+
Saquon Barkley13122
Miles Sanders12691
Dalvin Cook11733
Justin Fields11434
21 more rows

Who is the number 1 best running back in the NFL? ›

Best Running Backs in the NFL 2023: Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb, and Derrick Henry Battle Atop Rankings. The best running backs in the NFL can all offer speed, power, vision, and at least some pass-catching ability. But who sits at No. 1?

Who is the goat on the Kansas City Chiefs? ›

Chiefs' Travis Kelce Explains Why Patrick Mahomes Will Go Down as NFL's 'GOAT' Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce believes Patrick Mahomes will eventually be recognized as the greatest player in NFL history.

Which RB has the most rushing yards? ›

Emmitt Smith is the all-time rushing leader of the National Football League (NFL) with 18,355 career rushing yards. The running back, who spent the majority of his 15-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, became the all-time leader rusher in the NFL in the 2002 season.

Who is the richest NFL player? ›

The deal makes Jackson the highest-paid player in NFL history in terms of average annual value ($52 million), just edging out Philadelphia Eagles star Jalen Hurts ($51 million) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($50.27 million).

Which RB has the best stats? ›

Emmitt Smith, who played 15 seasons, owns all the marquee statistical categories: rushes, rushing yards, yards from scrimmage, and touchdowns.

Who is the best CB in the NFL? ›

The New York Jets' Sauce Gardner is the NFL's best NFL cornerback today. Rookie cornerbacks rarely enter the league with an immediate impact, but he demonstrated on-field traits typical of elite corners and had the production to match.

Who is the best rookie running back in the NFL right now? ›

Bijan Robinson, Falcons. 5'11, 215 lbs. Robinson stands atop the list of the best rookie running backs. He rose to prominence as the #1 RB recruit in the nation in 2020.

What running back has the most touchdowns? ›

Emmitt Smith

Who is the real goat in NFL? ›

His immense talent and accomplishments made him known as The Goat. Brady has set the standard way too high for aspiring quarterbacks who wish to take his position, but there might never be another player like Tom Brady.

What did Mahomes say to Tom Brady? ›

"What's up, Tom? I just wanted to say congrats on retirement," Mahomes told the seven-time Super Bowl champion. "You had a hell of a career that all of us will be chasing for a very long time. Happy for you, but I'm just a little bit happy to see you go, too.


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