No. 5 Ernest Anderson
The running back from Orange, Texas, arrived at Oklahoma State in 1979 but truly proved that he was a force to be reckoned with during the Cowboys’ 1982 season. Anderson tallied 1,877 yards, the most of any player that year and the fifth-highest number of single-season yards for any player at that time. Anderson is especially notable because it didn’t take all season for him to gain an impressive number of yards. His yardage exceeded 1,000 after five games. Anderson was named a 1982 Walter Camp All-American after an incredible season.
No. 4 Kendall Hunter
Hunter is a personal favorite on this list, because I remember cheering him on from my family’s seats in Boone Pickens Stadium as he dashed down the field to score touchdowns. A native of Tyler, Texas, Hunter had playing time as a freshman and scored four touchdowns in that 2007 season. By 2008, Hunter was a Cowboy star with 16 touchdowns on the season and 1,555 rushing yards. Hunter received several All-American honors during his college career, including from the Football Writers Association of America in 2008 and the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press and Walter Camp in 2010. Hunter rushed for at least 100 yards in 20 games as a Cowboy, ranking third in this category for OSU. In 2011, Hunter was selected in the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers and was on the roster for the New Orleans Saints in 2015.
No. 3 Terry Miller
Miller’s speed and agility propelled him to be known as one of the Cowboys’ greatest running backs. Miller, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, had 4,754 rushing yards from 1974-77. No other Cowboy has ever accumulated at least 1,000 yards in three separate seasons and his 49 total touchdowns rank third in the Cowboy record book. As the Cowboys’ Superman in 1976, Miller led the team to a three-way tie for the Big 8 title. In 1976 and 1977, Miller was named Big 8 Offensive Player of the Year. Miller’s impressive list of accolades also included Associated Press All-American, Walter Camp All-American, Football Writers Association of America All-American, AFCA All-American and 1977 Heisman Trophy runner-up. Miller’s No. 43 is one of the Cowboys’ four retired numbers.
No. 2 Bob Fenimore
Fenimore was a Cowboy standout in the 1940s and has left a legacy at Oklahoma State University. The Woodward, Oklahoma native had the most offensive yards in the country for the 1944 and ‘45 seasons with 1,758 and 1,641 yards, respectively. As if these stats alone weren’t impressive enough, two other factors guaranteed Fenimore’s spot on this list. One is his versatility. The “Blond Bomber” was a triple-threat on the field. He played offense, defense and special teams. To this day, Fenimore leads the Cowboys in picks with 18. He was a running back, but he was also so much more. The other factor is that when Fenimore played for the Cowboys, they were unstoppable. In 1945, OSU’s record was 9-0, and they achieved a Sugar Bowl victory as well. Most importantly, Fenimore led the Pokes to win their only national championship, which was recently rewarded to OSU. Before Fenimore, no OSU player had been named an All-American, but he received the honor in both 1944 and 1945. In the 1947 NFL draft, the Chicago Bears selected Fenimore as the No. 1 overall pick in the first round.
No. 1 Thurman Thomas
My parents have often mentioned how awesome it was to watch Thomas play, and it’s easy to see why. He holds the Cowboy record for rushing yards with 5,001, and he had 49 career touchdowns. He ran for 100 yards in 22 games and averaged 106.4 yards per game. Every year from 1985-87, no Cowboy ran for more yards than Thomas. He was a 1985 United Press International All-American, a 1987 Associated Press All-American and a 1987 Sporting News All-American. Thomas was also the offensive player of the year in the Big 8 for the 1985 and 1987 seasons. Even with an injured knee, Thomas was a second round NFL draft pick by Buffalo in 1988. In the NFL, Thomas continued to shine. He chewed up and spit out defenses to lead the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances and was the NFL’s MVP in 1991. While Barry Sanders is often recognized for his abilities, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest Cowboy athletes of all time, Thomas was arguably every bit as talented as Sanders. In fact, when both Sanders and Thomas played for the Pokes, Thomas was known by many as “the only player who could keep Barry Sanders on the bench.” Thomas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 and the National College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. From his achievements as a collegiate athlete to his endeavors in the NFL, Thurman Thomas is the greatest Cowboy running back not named Barry Sanders.