On Wednesday, Texas running back D’Onta Foreman elected to forgo his senior year of college and enter the NFL Draft.
Foreman, who played three years, leaves Texas in ninth place on the school’s career rushing list with 2,782 yards — 2,028 of them coming this season alone. He rushed for 15 touchdowns this year and leads the country in rushing yards and average yards per game (184.4).
Some are projecting him to go in the first three rounds of April’s NFL Draft, which will be held in Philadelphia. If and when he does get drafted, he’ll be a rare sight: A Longhorns running back going in the NFL Draft.
Former Texas backs Fozzy Whittaker (Carolina Panthers) and Malcolm Brown (Los Angeles Rams) are currently playing in the league, but they got there as undrafted free agents who made their teams through training camp and preseason. Texas has had only five running backs actually drafted over the past 25 years, and only one of them — Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles, a 2008 third-rounder — is still in the league.
A look at those five drafted Longhorns:
Chris Ogbonnaya: 2009, 7th round (Rams)
Ogbonnaya, coming off a senior season where he rushed for 373 yards and four touchdowns, was the 211th overall player taken that year. Four members of that round are still prominent names in the league — Georgia Tech defensive tackle Vance Walker, who’s now with the Denver Broncos, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (Kent State), Giants starting running back Rashad Jennings (Liberty) and Titans kicker Ryan Succop (South Carolina), who actually was that year’s Mr. Irrelevant. Ogbannaya, who also was Texas’ third-leading receiver that season, played in only two games with the Rams but then had stints with Houston, Cleveland, Carolina and the Giants over a six-year career. He finished with 710 rushing yards, 714 receiving yards and four career touchdowns.
Jamaal Charles: 2008, 3rd round (Chiefs)
Kansas City swooped up the fourth-leading rusher in Texas’ history — behind only Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and Earl Campbell — with the 73rd overall pick, the 10th running back taken behind Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Kevin Smith and Jacob Hester. This ninth NFL season for Charles has been hampered by injuries, but he has rushed for 7,260 career yards, which is No. 1 on Kansas City’s all-time list (another Longhorn, Priest Holmes, is No. 2 on that list). Charles has 285 career catches and 63 career touchdowns and was a Pro Bowler in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Cedric Benson: 2005, 1st round (Bears)
Texas’ second-leading career rusher went with the fourth overall pick of the 2005 draft, behind Utah quarterback Alex Smith, Auburn running back Ronnie Brown and Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards. Of the top five picks (Auburn running back Cadillac Williams was No. 5), only Smith — drafted by the 49ers but now with the Chiefs — is still in the league. Benson finished sixth in the 2004 Heisman Trophy voting. He rushed for 1,596 yards in three years with the Bears, but resurrected his career with three 1,000-yard seasons in his four years with Cincinnati. He wrapped up his eight-year career in 2012 with five appearances with Green Bay; he retired with 6,017 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Ricky Williams: 1999, 1st round (Saints)
Mike Ditka traded all eight of New Orleans’ draft picks to the Redskins on draft night in order to take Williams with the fifth overall pick. There were three straight quarterbacks taken to top the draft — the Browns took Tim Couch, the Eagles took Donovan McNabb and the Bengals chose Akili Smith — and one running back, Edgerrin James at No. 4 to the Colts. McNabb, James, Williams, Torry Holt and Champ Bailey all went in the top 10 and had solid NFL careers. Williams, one of two Heisman winners for Texas, had four straight 1,000-yard seasons beginning with his second year, but also generated off-the-field headlines with an early retirement, a season-long suspension and a poorly-negotiated rookie contract. He played for the Saints, Dolphins and Ravens and crossed the career 10,000-yard threshold in the final game of his 12-year career.
Chris Samuels: 1991, 12th round
The San Diego Chargers took a last-round chance on Samuels, the 317th-overall pick of the ’91 draft who ranks 42nd on Texas’ career rushing list with 1,084 yards. He lasted only two seasons in the NFL, appearing in three games. His career averages, however, weren’t that bad — 5.0 yards per carry and 16.5 yards per reception — though the actual numbers weren’t much (two career carries for 10 yards, two catches for 33 yards). There were two notable players taken in that 12th round; UNLV receiver Keenan McCardell played for seven teams, was a two-time Pro Bowler and won two Super Bowls with Washington and Tampa Bay, and TCU cornerback Larry Brown became the MVP of the Cowboys’ win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. The Redskins ended up drafting eight players with those Saints picks in the 1999 and 2000 drafts, including cornerback Champ Bailey and linebacker LaVar Arrington.