Alright, I'll admit...that QB rundown was depressing. Especially if you compare any of their stats to Donovan McNabb's. Let's move on to a position that had much more going for it in the 2000's, the running back position. I've listed out the Top Ten Syracuse Running Back Careers of the Aughts below, including a few honorable mentions for those on the fringe. There's a couple fullbacks lumped in there as well so don't call me on a technicality.
Kyle Johnson ('01)
52 carries, 223 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD, and according to his Wikipedia page, "the top college football player ever."
Paul Chiara ('07)
54 carries, 248 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 176 receiving yards and a knack for breaking in...to defensive backfields.
Thump Belton ('03)
62 carries, 327 rushing yards, 51 receiving yards, and the force behind the Free Thump Belton Movement.
Tim Washington ('05)
43 carries, 191 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD, 46 receiving yards...acquired about 90% of those stats in a productive 2003. Went on to play one final season at UMass.
No. 10 Chris Davis '04
Davis never had a 100-yard season, let alone a 100-yard game. But his statline is downright Jerome Bettis-esque. 86 yards & 3 TDs in 2000 and 28 yards & 3 TDs in 2001. He added another score in '03 to make it 7 on the career. Drafted by the Seahawks, his career was cut short by knee injuries.
No. 9 Doug Hogue '11
Hogue now terrorizes other running backs as a linebacker but he spent the first two seasons of his career as a RB. Hogue rushed for 251 yards and a TD in his freshman season, setting himself up to be the heir apparant after Curtis Brinkley and Delone Carter. But he saw a significant drop in production his sophomore season. Of his 232 yards that year, 82 of them came on one touchdown run. He was mostly used as a blocking back and receiving option. Hogue compiled 483 rushing yards, 3 rushing TDs and a receiving TD over his two-year offensive stint.
No. 8 Diamond Ferri '05
Diamond Ferri did a lot of things. He was a safety. He was a receiver. He was a kick returner. And when called on, he was a running back. Ferri didn't rush for much, his best season was 173 yards and 2 TDs as a senior. Ferri is most fondly remembered for his performance against Boston College in '04 when, already playing safety, Ferri stepped in for injured RB Damien Rhodes and led the Orange with 141 rushing yards, 2 offensive TDs, 6 tackles and one defensive TD en route to an upset win over the Eagles. He finished with 448 yards and 4 TDs on his rushing career.
No. 7 Antwon Bailey '12
In 2008, there was one freshman running back expected to step up and challenge for playing time. His name was...Averin Collier. Instead, it was Antwon Bailey who emerged as the RB of the future thanks to his 126-yard performance against Notre Dame in the upset late in the season. Bailey finished his freshman season with 221 yards and 2 TDs. In his sophomore season Bailey sat No. 2 on the depth chart behind Delone Carter and emerged as the "Stallion" threat, not only garnered 312 yards and TD on the ground but also amassing 201 yards through the air.
No. 6 Dee Brown '01
Unfortunately for Brown, all we can accept is his senior season in which he rushed for 1,031 yards and 9 touchdowns. Brown amassed 2,626 yards over his entire career and scored 28 touchdowns total, good for fifth all-time. In 2000, Brown saved his best for last rushing for 239 yards (3rd best SU rushing performance ever) and three touchdowns in a 49-21 shellacking of Rutgers.
No. 5 Delone Carter '11
Carter still has a year left but, considering what he's been through, it's actually quite amazing he's this far up the chart. Ohio Mr. Football 2005 brought with him plenty of expectations when he arrived. He delivered on that his freshman year with a 713 yard, four-TD season. But a huge hip injury sidelined Carter for his entire sophomore season. He returned his junior year but the entire season was a wash as Carter eased back into things, totaling only 137 yards. In his third season, with Curtis Brinkley graduated, Carter finally took his rightful place atop the SU RB heap. He blossomed late in the season, blowing up for 170 yards and 3 TDs against Akron. He would rush for 100+ yards in four of the final six games of the year to end with 1,021 yards, 11 rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown.
No. 4 James Mungro '02
Mungro is another guy who only gets partial credit, with the first two years of his career in the previous decade. That said, he made the most of 2000 and 2001, amassing 2,082 yards and 25 total touchdowns. His 2001 season, in which he ran fore 1,170 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, was the fourth-best single season in SU rushing history. For his career he's third on the SU all-time rushing list with 2,869 yards.
No. 3 Curtis Brinkley '09
Like Carter, it took Curtis a while to get going. But eventually he left an indelible mark on Syracuse history. Brinkley rushed for 2,132 yards and 11 touchdowns over his career but it was his senior season where he made the most impact (1,164 yards, 7 TDs). It was the fifth-highest single season total in SU history. Brinkley had seven 100-yard rushing games, including five consecutive,and finished tenth all-time in carries for SU. Brinkley's best performance came against Louisville in '08 when he rushed for 188 yards on 33 carries with a TD.
No. 2 Damien Rhodes '06
Syracuse's ninth-all-time leading rusher spent the bulk of his career being the No. 2 rusher on the team (we'll get to him in a second). Rhodes never went over 1,000 yards in a season but he was Mr. Consistency, rushing for 870 yards as a junior and 900 yards as a senior. Altogether he amassed 2,461 yards and 27 total touchdowns. Rhodes is also fifth all-time in carries and seventh in touchdowns. That he accomplished all that with the No. 1 RB of the 2000's alongside him is even more impressive. His 236-yard performance agianst Buffalo in 2005 is the sixth-best single-game in SU history.
No. 1 Walter Reyes '05
The 2nd best single-season in SU history (1,347 yards - 2003). The 2nd best single-game performance in SU history (241 yards, 2 TDs against, who else, Rutgers). Most touchdowns by any SU rusher in history (45). The 2nd-most career yards gained in SU history (3,424). Fourteen 100-yard games, No. 3 all-time in that category. Once scored five touchdowns in a game (against Notre Dame), tied with Floyd Little for 2nd most in SU history. If not for an injury-plagued senior season, he would have been Syracuse's last viable Heisman candidate. Still, he is the only SU running back to rush for over 1,000 yards twice in the 2000's. He rushed for 17 TDs one season and followed it up with 20 TDs the next. No other SU RB even made it to 15.
One of the many shames of The Greg Robinson Era is that it put a black eye on the entire decade. Any success the Orange had earlier in the Aughts was wiped out and the entire decade was lumped into the miserable second half. It's good to remember that it really wasn't that long ago when we had superstars...and that recently our running attack is returning to that place.