Sports

Just line up and give them the ball

I'll let you in on a little secret: There's somewhere Bryce Brown can get a scholarship this season even without his release from Tennessee, and it's somewhere that produces NFL running backs on an almost-yearly basis.

That's the Jayhawk Conference.

The history of running backs in this league will make your head spin. Heisman Trophy winners, Pro Bowlers, national champions, Super Bowl winners... all things Brown can still only dream about.

Here's a list of the top five running backs that have come out of our bountiful junior-college system, and then go ahead and tell me if you think Brown is better than any of them. And then I'll disagree with you. And back and forth we'll go.

1. Rudi Johnson, Butler (1998-1999) —Led the Grizzlies to two national championships, including a 7-touchdown, 373-yard performance in the national title game his sophomore year, the same year he ran for 2,310 yards and 35 touchdowns. Then he killed it at Auburn. And he killed it in the NFL with the Bengals, setting Cincy's season rushing record twice and grabbing a Pro Bowl spot.

The best there ever was? The best there ever will be? Read the rest of the list.

2. Mike Rozier, Coffeyville (1980) —Led the Red Ravens to an undefeated season in his one year there, rushing for 1,316 yards in just nine games. Matriculated at Nebraska where he was a two-time All-American and won the Heisman Trophy in 1983. Played eight pro seasons in the USFL and NFL and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Also, if you end up at CCC, you might stay in a dorm named after him. Just saying.

3. Brandon Jacobs, Coffeyville (2001-2002) —This man is 6-foot-4 inches tall and weighs almost 270 pounds. And runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. No wonder they nicknamed him "The Creator."

Ran for 3,195 yards in two years at The Ville then played for Auburn and Southern Illinois before being drafted by the New York Giants, where he ran for over 1,000 yards in 2007 and helped lead his team to one of the greatest sports upsets of all time that season, defeating the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Oh, and my man got paid last year, to the tune of $25 million for four years.

Cha-ching!!!

4. Jasmin Hopkins, Fort Scott (2008-2009) —My personal favorite off this list. Undersized at 5-9 and 175 pounds, Hopkins backed down from absolutely no one in his two years at Fort Scott, rushing for 1,930 yards and 18 touchdowns last season on the way to NJCAA offensive player of the year honors and a national-runner up finish.

"A coach called me once and asked if I had a running back for him," Fort Scott Jeff Sims said last year. "I told them he's not quite big enough and he's not quite fast enough, but he's perfect."

Hopkins has signed with Northern Illinois and will be a junior this season. My advice to the Huskies? Just give him the ball.

5. Arland Bruce III, Hutchinson (1996-1997) —Bruce makes this list almost on pure durability. As in he's still playing pro football at 32 years old. At Hutchinson, he was a two-time all-Jayhawk performer before moving on to Minnesota, where he led the Gophers to a Sun Bowl win in 1999, which is a big deal in Minnesota.

Bruce played just one season in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers in 2003, but the Olathe North product has been one of the better players in the Canadian Football League for the last decade with Winnipeg, Toronto and Hamilton, albeit as a slot back, and won the Grey Cup with the Argonauts in 2004. He also has the honor of producing the most bizarre touchdown celebration of all-time, pretending he was in a coffin to honor the passing of pop icon Michael Jackson last summer. It was as weird as it sounds.

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