College Football's All-Time Leading Rushers

Wisconsin's Ron Dayne tops the list of leading NCAA football rushers

Grimacing Black football player carrying football
Pete Saloutos / Getty Images

Ron Dayne put the University of Wisconsin Badgers back on the NCAA Division 1 map during a spectacular career in Madison, Wisconsin. Between 1996 and 1999, the bruising but not flashy 5'10" college football rusher ran all over opposing defenses, amassing 6,397 rushing yards to break the NCAA career rushing mark previously held by Texas' Ricky Williams.

The Great Dayne

The rusher -- also known as the Dayne Train and the Great Dayne -- won the Heisman Award in 1999.

Other accolades include the 1999 Big 10 Player of the Year, and he was All-American in 1996, 1998 and 1999. Dayne won MVP honors in both the 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowl games (eclipsing 200 yards rushing in each game), becoming the only Big 10 player to repeat as MVP. His number, 33, was retired at the November 10, 2007, game against Michigan State.

Dayne was inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2011 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Pro Football Days

Dayne was picked 11th in the 2000 National Football Draft by the New York Giants, where the leading rusher became part of the "Thunder and Lightning" duo alongside Tiki Barber. He went on to play with the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans -- in that order -- ending his career for good at age 30 in 2007. The leading college football rusher now resides in Waunakee, Wisconsin.

Leading College Football Rushers

Dayne's record was most recently challenged by fellow Wisconsin alum Montee Ball, who rushed for 5,140 yards between 2009 and 2012. The top 15 all-time leading rushers in college football history are listed here:

  • Ron Dayne: Wisconsin (1996-99) 6,397 career rushing yards
  • Ricky Williams: Texas (1995-98) 6,279
  • Tony Dorsett: Pittsburgh (1973-76) 6,082
  • DeAngelo Williams: Memphis (2002-05) 6,026
  • Charles White: USC (1976-79) 5,598
  • Travis Prentice: Miami (Ohio) (1996-99) 5,596
  • Cedric Benson: Texas (2001-04) 5,540
  • Damion Fletcher: Southern Miss (2006-09) 5,302
  • LaDainian Tomlinson: TCU (1997-00) 5,263
  • Herschel Walker: Georgia (1980-82) 5,259
  • Archie Griffin: Ohio State (1972-75) 5,177
  • Avon Cobourne: West Virginia (1999-02) 5,164
  • Garrett Wolfe: Northern Illinois (2004-06) 5,164
  • Montee Ball: Wisconsin (2009-2012) 5,140
  • LaMichael James: Oregon (2009-11) 5,082