a small group
Jeff Jones is among the few Minnesota running backs who have stood out in national recruiting circles in the past 30 years. Here are some others:
Rochester John Marshall
Class of 1986
He had offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma State, UCLA and every Big Ten school but chose Minnesota, where he became the Gophers’ all-time leading rusher with 4,654 yards. He was a first-round pick by the Green Bay Packers and played five seasons in the NFL.
Class of 1993
He narrowed his list of college choices to Florida State, Minnesota and Wisconsin before committing to play for the Badgers. He started for two years at Wisconsin before getting supplanted by Ron Dayne and went undrafted.
St. Paul Johnson Class of 1999
A Liberia native, Tapeh emerged as a second-team USA Today All-America in 1998 and was heavily recruited by Wisconsin and Michigan. He rushed for 1,958 yards for the Gophers and went on to play four seasons as a fullback with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Class of 2001
He rushed for 1,938 yards as a high school senior, playing alongside quarterback Joe Mauer. Powers-Neal was recruited by Nebraska and Minnesota but chose Notre Dame. The Irish turned him into a fullback.
Marion Barber III
Wayzata, Class of 2001
He was a standout running back and defensive back for Wayzata but wasn’t heavily recruited. Gophers coach Glen Mason said he almost didn’t offer Barber a scholarship, but Barber rushed for 3,276 yards in three years at Minnesota and 4,780 in seven NFL seasons.