Single Season ACC Rushing Leaders

Which ACC running backs are at the top of the record books for rushing yards in a single season? Here are the top 10.

10. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech – 1,655 yards (2009)

Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams (34) runs against Florida State in the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Ryan Williams had a remarkable freshman season in Blacksburg. In 2009, Williams burst onto the scene, quickly becoming one of the nation’s top rushers. Williams set a new standard for Virginia Tech, breaking the school’s single-season rushing record with an impressive 1,655 yards. His incredible season also earned him the ACC Rookie of the Year award.

9. Travis Etienne, Clemson – 1,658 yards (2018)

Clemson running back Travis Etienne (9) spins the ball out of his hands after scoring a touchdown during an NCAA college football game against Syracuse in Clemson, S.C., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (Ken Ruinard/Pool Photo via AP)

As a sophomore, Travis Etienne played a pivotal role in Clemson’s undefeated 2018 national championship campaign. He amassed 1,658 rushing yards on just 204 carries, averaging 8.1 yards per carry. He scored 24 rushing touchdowns during the season and won ACC Player of the Year and was named a consensus All-American.

8. AJ Dillon, Boston College – 1,685 yards (2019)

AJ Dillon rushes
Boston College running back AJ Dillon (2) rushes against the defense of North Carolina State safety Dexter Wright (14) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

Boston College’s running attack was dominant in 2019 with AJ Dillon. As a junior, Dillon powered through defenses, racking up 1,685 rushing yards on 318 carries. Known for his physical running style and ability to break tackles, Dillon averaged 5.3 yards per carry and found the end zone 14 times. Dillon was an All-ACC First Team selection, as he recorded seven 150-yard rushing games during the season.

7. Dalvin Cook, Florida State – 1,691 yards (2015)

Bryce Gowdy commits
Florida State running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs against Georgia Tech defensive back Step Durham (8) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Jon Barash)

Dalvin Cook made a leap in his sophomore year at Florida State. He took his production as a freshman (1,008 rush yards and 8 rushing touchdowns) to new heights, finishing his sophomore campaign with 1,691 rushing yards on 229 carries, averaging 7.4 yards per attempt. Cook finished the season with 1,935 all-purpose yards and 20 total touchdowns, earning First-Team All-ACC and Second-Team All-American honors. This isn’t the last we’ll see of Cook on this list…

6. David Wilson, Virginia Tech – 1,709 yards (2011)

Virginia Tech running back David Wilson (4) tries to turn the corner past Michigan cornerback Courtney Avery (5) and safety Jordan Kovacs during the first quarter of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

David Wilson nearly tripled his production in his junior year at Virginia Tech when you compare his stats to his sophomore season. The Danville, Va. native ran for 1,709 rushing yards on 290 carries, averaging an 5.9 yards per attempt in 2011. Wilson was named the ACC Player of the Year and received First-Team All-ACC honors.

5. Don McCauley, North Carolina – 1,720 yards (1970)

Photo credit: UNC Athletics.

Don McCauley’s 1,720 rushing yards in 1970 broke the NCAA record and still remains North Carolina’s all-time single season record. McCauley held the ACC single-season rushing record for 29 years until Virginia’s Thomas Jones set a new record in 1999. McCauley was named to the All-ACC team and won ACC Player of the Year honors to cap his collegiate career.

3. (tie) Dalvin Cook, Florida State – 1,765 yards (2016)

Dalvin Cook (4) earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2015 and 2016. (AP Photo)

The only player to appear twice on our list, Dalvin Cook followed up his incredible sophomore campaign with an even more impressive junior year at Florida State. He rushed for 1,765 yards on 288 carries, averaging 6.1 yards per attempt. Cook also was a threat in the passing game, recording 33 receptions for 488 yards and a touchdown. He was named a unanimous All-American and First-Team All-ACC that season.

3. (tie) James Conner, Pitt – 1,765 yards (2014)

James Conner rushed for an ACC-record 26 touchdowns in 2014. (AP Photo)

James Conner’s 2014 sophomore season was one for the record books. The Pitt star tallied 1,765 rushing yards on 298 carries, setting a new single-season school record. He more than doubled his rushing yards from his freshman season (799 yards) and more than tripled his rushing touchdowns, going from 8 as a freshman to 26 as a sophomore. Conner was named the ACC Player of the Year and a consensus First-Team All-American.

2. Thomas Jones, Virginia – 1,798 yards (1999)

Photo credit AP.

Thomas Jones increased his production each season at Virginia, capped by a phenomenal senior season in 1999. The Big Stone Gap, Va. native rushed for 1,798 yards on 325 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. He scored 17 rushing touchdowns, earning consensus First-Team All-American honors and the ACC Player of the Year award. He finished 8th in Heisman Award voting that year and went on to be selected 7th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.

1. Andre Williams, Boston College – 2,177 yards (2013)

Boston College ‘s Andre Williams carries the ball in the first quarter of a NCAA college football game against Massachusetts in Boston, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Andre Williams obliterated the ACC single-season rushing record in 2013 with an incredible 2,177 rushing yards. He amassed a gargantuan 355 carries, which is a Boston College record and currently places him at 29th on the NCAA’s all-time list for rushing attempts in a single season (UCF’s Kevin Smith currently tops the list with 450 carries in 2007). Williams also averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scored 18 touchdowns. He earned unanimous All-American honors and the prestigious Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation’s top running back.