BYU has had a wealth of really good college running backs over the years but that hasn’t translated into NFL success. In fact, three of the best running backs from BYU never even took a regular season snap in the league. This list ranks the best NFL running backs to come out of BYU.
Note: 17 players from BYU have seen regular season action as running backs in the NFL but only ten make the list. The guys who played in the league but missed the cut are Pete Van Valkenberg, Peter Tuipulotu, Casey Tiumalu, Manase Tonga, Spencer Nead, Dustin Johnson and Ronney Jenkins. Of the seven, only Ronney Jenkins spent more than one season seeing field time in the NFL but had almost all of his success as a return man.
10. Jamal Willis- Willis was on the San Francisco Forty-Niners roster for two seasons but only saw game action in 1995. That season, Willis played in 11 games and carried the ball 12 times for 35 yards. Willis also caught three passes for eight yards.
9. Bruce Hansen- Hansen Made the New England Patriots roster and played six games in 1987 including two starts. Hansen carried the ball 16 times for 44 yards as well as catching one pass for 22 yards.
8. Nyle McFarlane- Nyle made the NFL as a member of the Oakland Raiders in 1960 and appeared in 13 games. McFarlane had four rushes for 52 yards as well five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
7. Robert Parker- Parker played for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1987 and appeared in three games, starting two. He carried the ball 47 times for 150 yards and one touchdown as well as catching seven passes for 44 yards.
6. Lakei Heimuli- Heimuli was the 249th pick in the ninth round of the 1987 draft by the Chicago Bears. Heimuli made the Bears roster that season and appeared in three games. Heimuli had 34 carries for 128 yards as well as catching five passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.
5. Naufahu Tahi- Tahi had a five year NFL career and saw action in four of those seasons. Tahi played for the Minnesota Vikings from 2006 through 2010 and appeared in 56 games, including 14 starts. Tahi carried the ball 10 times for 21 yards and caught 33 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
4. Reno Mahe- Mahe played for five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and appeared in 55 games including one start. Mahe’s best season came in 2004 when he rushed for 91 yards on 23 carries and caught 14 passes for 123 yards.
During his career Mahe carried the ball 47 times for 196 yards and made 33 catches for 230 yards.
3. Vai Sikahema- Sikahema was the 254th pick in the tenth round of the 1986 draft by the Saint Louis Cardinals. Sikahema played eight seasons in the NFL for three teams. Sikahema’s best season as a running back came in 1989 as a member of the Phoenix Cardinals. That season Sikahema rushed for 145 yards on 38 carries and caught 23 for 245 yards.
During his career, Sikahema carried the ball 89 times for 217 yards and caught 53 passes for 537 yards and one touchdown.
2. Eric Lane- Lane was the 196th pick in the eighth round of the 1981 draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Lane played all seven of his NFL seasons with the Seahawks and had his best year in 1984. That season Lane rushed for 299 yards and four touchdowns on 80 carries as well as catching 11 passes for 101 yards and another score.
During his career, Lane rushed for 405 yards and four touchdowns as well as catching 42 balls for 357 yards and two more scores.
1. Bill Ring- Ring spent all six of his NFL seasons as a member of the San Francisco Forty-Niners. His best season came in 1983, when Ring rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns on 64 carries as well as catching 23 passes for 182 yards.
During his career, Ring rushed for 732 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 45 passes for 336 yards and another score.