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
TJ Duckett, Michigan State football (Mandatory Credit: Danny Moloshok /Allsport) /

Although he began his career at Michigan State in 1999, I’m including TJ Duckett on this list because he was technically a running back for the Spartans since 2000.

Moreover, he had his most successful seasons in 2000 and 2001.

Duckett began his career as a freshman in 1999 under Nick Saban, rushing for 606 yards and 10 touchdowns after being a highly-touted recruit at the high school level. He helped lead Michigan State to the Citrus Bowl win over Florida before Saban bolted and Bobby Williams took over.

Under Williams, Duckett saw much more playing time and his carries doubled in 2000 and so did his production. He finished his sophomore year with 1,353 yards and seven touchdowns on a solid 5.6 yards per carry. That set up a big junior season where he ran for 1,420 yards and 10 touchdowns on 5.4 yards per touch. He also had the biggest catch of his career vs. Michigan.

There weren’t many running backs in the Big Ten as consistent as Duckett during that time frame as he finished his career averaging 5.4 yards per carry and he was a load to bring down. Even when Michigan State was one of the mediocre teams in the conference, he was a star.

Duckett ended his career with 3,379 yards and 29 touchdowns before getting selected 18th overall in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Falcons.