Over the years, Southern Miss has produced some good running backs. Good enough to be drafted into the NFL. And we take a look at the top Southern Miss rushing seasons since 2000.
Top Southern Miss Rushing Seasons
5. Jalen Richard & Ito Smith (2015)
Jalen Richard and Ito Smith both rushed for over 1000 yards in 2015 for a Golden Eagle team that finished 9-5 on the season. Smith rushed for 1128 yards and 10 TDs and Richard rushed for 1098 yards and 14 TDs.
Richard posted five games of over 100+yards rushing. His high game: 230 yards and 4 TDs in a win over Texas State. Smith also rushed for 161 yards and 4 TDs in a win over Old Dominion.
Smith posted six games over 100+yards rushing. His high game: 169 yards and 3 TDs in a win over La. Tech. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry in that game.
Smith averaged over 7 yards per rush eight times during that season.
As a receiver, Smith showcased his skills as he averaged 44 catches and over 450 yards over his last three seasons in Hattiesburg.
His 5984 career yards from scrimmage ranks #16 on The Most Productive College Running Backs of All-Time by stadiumtalk.com.
Smith was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2018, where he played three seasons.
4. Derrick Nix (2002)
Nix rushed for 1194 yards and 11 touchdowns for a Southern Miss team that finished 7-6 in ’02. He posted four games of over 100+ yards rushing.
His high game: 27 carries for 201 yards and 2 TDs in win over Illinois. In his career, Nix rushed for 3584 yards and scored 30 touchdowns.
3. Damion Fletcher (2006)
Fletcher rushed for 1388 yards and 11 touchdowns for a team that finished 9-5, played in the C-USA Championship Game (losing to Houston 34-20), and beat Ohio 28-7 in the GMAC Bowl.
He posted seven games of over 100+ yards rushing and averaged 6-yards or better per carry 5 times that season.
Fletcher’s high game: 177 yards and 3 TDs (6-yard avg.) in win over N.C. State.
For his efforts, Fletcher was named Freshman All-American by The Sporting News.
2. Ito Smith (2016)
Smith rushed for 1459 yards and 17 touchdowns for a Golden Eagle team that finished 7-6 with a 28-21 win over Louisiana in the New Orleans Bowl.
He posted eight games of over 100+yards rushing, including the first four games of the season.
Smith scored 3 rushing touchdowns in a loss to Old Dominion.
His high game of the season was week 1 in a win over Kentucky: 173 yards and a touchdown.
In the bowl game win over the Ragin’ Cajuns, Smith rushed for 138 yards and 2 TDs.
1. Damion Fletcher (2007)
Fletcher rushed for 1586 yards and 15 TDs in the ’07 season. He rushed for 100+yards nine times that season and averaged over 6-yards per carry four times.
Damion’s high game: 211 yards on 34 carries and 3 touchdowns in 56-30 win over UTEP.
His 6206 career yards from scrimmage rank 12th all-time in NCAA history, and it also ranks 12th on The Most Productive College Running Backs of All-Time, according to stadiumtalk.com.
The Golden Eagles finished 7-6 that season with a loss to Cincinnati in the Papa John’s Bowl.
Damion Fletcher and Ito Smith rank #1 and #2 respectively on the Southern Miss all-time rushing list.
But, there hasn’t been a 1000-yard rusher for the Golden Eagles since Smith rushed for 1415 yards and 13 TDs in 2017.
Maybe Frank Gore, Jr. and Southern Miss can change that in 2022.
Thanks for reading.
Material for this article was sourced from sports-reference.com, cfbstats.com, and “The Most Productive College Running Backs of All-Time”, by Tony Adame, stadiumtalk.com, Oct. 29, 2020.