Getting up before the sun to go for a jog, hitting the weight room day in and day out, running drills to work on footwork and coordination: there's a lot that goes into being an elite running back, proving that the journey to earning a place in the NFL is both long and tedious.
Todd Gurley was named the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year for his outstanding 2017 season. That year, he led the league in rushing touchdowns and set his own career record for rushing yards.
As a rookie, Ezekiel Elliott accomplished what few other running backs have by leading the league in rushing yards. He finished his rookie season with 1,631 yards while guiding the Cowboys to a playoff birth.
Few players are as good at holding onto the football as Kareem Hunt. In 27 NFL regular season games, Hunt only fumbled the ball once, which occurred during his rookie season.
Despite being a third-round draft pick, Alvin Kamara exploded into the league in his first season. After putting up over 700 rushing and receiving yards, he was named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
David Johnson broke his arm in the first game of the 2017 season. The injury forced Johnson to miss the remainder of the season, and he hasn't been quite the same since returning in 2018.
Few running backs have had the career of LeSean McCoy. In 10 NFL seasons, McCoy has made six Pro Bowls and led the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns once.
Devonta Freeman was part of the 2013 Florida State Seminoles, who won the BCS national championship. Freeman led the team in rushing in the championship game.
Melvin Gordon held the NCAA FBS single-game rushing record for a single week before it was broken by Samaje Perine. In a game against Nebraska, Gordon put up 408 yards on the ground, but Perine topped that by rushing for 427 yards against Kansas.
Leonard Fournette has not quite lived up to the hype since being a first-round draft pick in 2017. However, he's spent much of his first two years injured, and there's still plenty of time for him to bounce back.
Averaging 5.2 yards per carry, Jordan Howard's rookie season was full of promise. However, he has dipped off in the past two years, though he has still been a productive running back for the Bears.
Many analysts criticized the Giants for taking a running back with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Luckily for the Giants, Saquon Barley has lived up to the billing in his first NFL season, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Known for his pass-catching ability, Christian McCaffrey had an outstanding college career at Stanford. He currently holds the NCAA FBS record for all-purpose yards in a season, racking up 3,864 yards in 2015.
The Patriots defeated the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX when Russell Wilson threw an interception in the end zone near the end of the game. The play was heavily criticized because the Seahawks could have handed it off to their star running back, Marshawn Lynch.
Carlos Hyde has played for three different teams since joining the NFL in 2014. The running back has yet to reach the playoffs with any of those teams.
Joe Mixon's second season in the NFL proved to be much more productive than his first. He rushed for over 500 additional yards and increased his yards per carry from 3.5 to 4.9.
Dalvin Cook played three years for the Florida State Seminoles, where he saw significant playing time every year, including his freshman season. Cook was selected to the second-team All-ACC his first year and the first-team All-ACC his second and third year.
Kenyan Drake was the hero of a play in 2018 known as the Miami Miracle. The incident occurred on the last play of the game between the Dolphins and the Patriots, when Drake took a lateral pass in for a touchdown to help the Dolphins defeat the Patriots 34-33.
Matt Breida had a horrible senior season at Georgia Southern, which hurt his draft stock. The running back was not even invited to the NFL combine, though his pro day at Georgia Southern proved he deserved a shot in the league.
Despite entering the league in 2012, Lamar Miller did not make a Pro Bowl until 2018, which was not even his best season. In 2018, he rushed for 973 yards on 210 carries.
Jay Ajayi was traded from the Dolphins to the Eagles in the middle of the 2017 season. The Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl that year against the Patriots. In the championship game, Ajayi rushed for 57 yards on nine carries.
As a rookie, Sony Michel stepped up for the Patriots and led the team in rushing. He finished the 2018 regular season with 931 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Royce Freeman set multiple records for the Oregon Ducks while in college. In just his freshman season, he set the school record for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, on his way to being named the PAC-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.
Adrian Peterson is one of only seven running backs to go for over 2,000 yards rushing in an NFL season. He is also the last running back to accomplish the feat, when he rushed for 2,097 yards in 2012.
In college, Isaiah Crowell was kicked off of the University of Georgia football team for carrying a weapon in a school zone. He transferred to Alabama State, where he finished his college career before going to the NFL.
LeGarrette Blount is a three-time Super Bowl champion, twice with the Patriots and once with the Eagles. His best performance was in Super Bowl LII, when he rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Alex Collins played his first professional game of the regular season in Week 2 of the 2016 season for the Seattle Seahawks. In 2017 he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens.
Derrick Henry helped guide the Alabama Crimson Tide to two College Football Playoff appearances. The Tide walked away with one national championship in 2015, Henry's final season on the team.
Chris Carson played for a pass-heavy offense at Oklahoma State, which hurt his draft stock. He slipped all the way to the final round, when he was finally selected by the Seahawks with the 249th pick.
In only two seasons, Jamaal Williams has rushed for just over 1,000 yards for the Green Bay Packers. However, he's been a decent threat out of the backfield, racking up 472 yards over that two-year span.
Redshirted his freshman year, Peyton Barber only saw two seasons of action at Auburn University. In his final year for the Tigers, he rushed for 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Le'Veon Bell decided to sit out the 2018 season after the Steelers placed the franchise tag on him for the second year in a row. Initially, he intended to return to the team halfway through the season, but later decided it wasn't in his best interest.
Despite getting offers from several large programs, Marlon Mack decided to play college football at South Florida. The decision paid off, as he was named the AAC Rookie of the Year in 2014.
In 2009, Mark Ingram Jr. became the first player from the University of Alabama to ever win a Heisman Trophy. He rushed for over 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns that season.
Dion Lewis completely missed the 2013 and 2014 seasons, due to injury and a lack of production in the offseason. Lewis made a comeback to join the Patriots in 2015, where he remained for three seasons.
Nick Chubb played his first game as a rookie in the season opener of the 2018 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chubb carried the ball three times in a game that ended in a tie.
James Conner was productive when healthy as he attempted to replace Le'Veon Bell during the 2018 season. However, the running back missed several games over the course of the year, due to injury.
Though averaging over four yards per carry, T.J. Yeldon only has 1,872 rushing yards in four seasons in the NFL. However, he has split carries with other running backs and is typically used as a pass catcher.
James White reached his third Super Bowl victory with the New England Patriots in 2018, played in 2019. He was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round back in 2014.
In his junior season at Auburn, Kerryon Johnson was named the SEC Player of the Year. In 2018 he was drafted by the Detroit Lions.
C.J. Anderson was the Rams leading rusher when they defeated the Saints in the 2019 NFC Championship Game. In 2018 he was on the roster for the Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders and L.A. Rams.