Texas boasts a rich history of producing exceptional running backs, yet it faces stiff competition, particularly from Florida. In fact, the NFL’s all-time rushing leader hails from Florida, as does one of the most physically dominant runners in recent memory. Meet the 5 Greatest Running Backs from Florida High School Football.
Let’s take a look at five of the greatest running backs who emerged from the Sunshine State.
Emmitt Smith – Escambia
Emmitt Smith’s remarkable talent for achieving outstanding stats began in high school. As a sophomore, he amassed 2,424 rushing yards, followed by 2,915 yards as a junior, totaling 8,804 yards – a state record at the time. In college, Smith set an impressive 58 new records at the University of Florida.
However, his most exceptional achievements came in the NFL. With 18,355 rushing yards, he holds the league’s all-time record. Smith also scored 175 total touchdowns, made eight Pro Bowl appearances, earned four All-Pro honors, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Derrick Henry – Yulee
Derrick Henry may not surpass Emmitt Smith’s rushing record, but he has already built an impressive Hall of Fame-worthy resume in a shorter time. As a high school senior, Henry burst onto the scene with 4,261 rushing yards, earning the National Player of the Year award. He later won the Heisman Trophy in 2015 while playing for Alabama.
Since joining the Titans in 2016, Henry has twice led the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. In just seven seasons, he has received one All-Pro honor, made three Pro Bowl appearances, and scored 81 scrimmage touchdowns.
Frank Gore – Coral Gables
Frank Gore’s incredible durability as a running back deserves recognition. As a high school senior, he scored 39 touchdowns and was ranked fifth overall in the nation. Although multiple ACL injuries limited his college career at Miami, Gore went on to have a successful NFL tenure.
Drafted by the 49ers in 2005, he spent ten years in San Francisco before stints with the Colts, Bills, Dolphins, and Jets. Over his career, Gore participated in 250 regular season and playoff games, earning five Pro Bowl selections and a spot on the All 2010s team.
Travis Henry – Frostproof
During his senior year in high school, Travis Henry impressed with 4,087 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns, earning him the Mr. Florida Football award and Parade All-American honors. In college, he was part of Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team, concluding his collegiate career with 3,078 rushing yards.
Henry was drafted in the second round by the Buffalo Bills in the 2001 NFL draft. He appeared in the Pro Bowl the following season and ultimately finished his career with over 6,000 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns.
Marquette Smith – Lake Howell
Marquette Smith enjoyed a remarkable senior season, rushing for 2,409 yards and earning the USA Today Offensive Player of the Year award. After limited playing time at Florida State, he transferred to Florida Central, where he accumulated 2,569 career yards.
Smith briefly played in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers before knee injuries forced an early end to his career.
My Last Words!
Florida has produced some of the most exceptional running backs in football history. With their incredible talent, these five players left an indelible mark on the sport, showcasing the Sunshine State’s legacy of athletic prowess. Their impressive achievements will continue to inspire future generations of football players in Florida and beyond.