Michigan State Football: Top 5 running backs since 2000

Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State football (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)
Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State football (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Michigan State football
Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State football (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

This might draw a little controversy given the fact that Le’Veon Bell has been the most successful NFL running back Michigan State has produced in this time period, but during his time in East Lansing, it would be tough to rank him ahead of the other three guys on the list.

This isn’t a knock on him, but he just missed No. 3 by inches and when you see who comes in at that third spot, you’ll understand.

So why is Bell just No. 4 on the list of top five Michigan State running backs since 2000? You have to remember he had just one real breakout season in his three-year college career. He did rush for 600 yards as a freshman, over 900 as a sophomore, but his 1,793-yard junior season was when everyone started to actually respect him — and it took him 382 carries to reach that.

While Bell had one of the best single-season rushing marks, he averaged just 4.7 yards per carry and you could argue it was his offensive line that held him back. Just imagine what his numbers may have looked like if he came back to play behind that line in 2013 — he may have been No. 1 on this list if that was the case.

Still, Bell finished his career with one 1,000-yard season, totaling 3,346 yards and 33 rushing touchdowns and he was a threat out of the backfield as well, catching 78 passes for 531 yards and a touchdown.

Oh, and he was pretty good at hurdling defenders.