Who are the all-time best Tennessee Titans and Houston Oilers running backs?
There are few franchises in the NFL with running games as storied as the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Oilers.
Pro Bowl and All-Pro rosters are littered with Titans and Oilers offensive linemen. More than a few of those guys now have gold jackets and have their busts in Canton, Ohio in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Luckily for this franchise, it has always had elite running backs to take advantage of that blocking prowess. However, when you start counting them in your head, you may only remember a handful.
The reason 10 names don’t immediately jump to your mind is that the top end of this list is filled with extremely durable running backs whose consistency was only rivaled by their longevity.
So, who are the names that you didn’t think about, but who deserve your respect and attention? These are the 15 greatest running backs in Oilers/Titans franchise history.
- Best season: 1989
- 531 rush yards, four rushing touchdowns
- 210 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns
Miami Hurricanes fans may remember Alonzo Highsmith from his impact on the team that won the 1983 National Championship during his time in Coral Gables, but Oilers fans will remember him from his run with Houston.
Highsmith led the Oilers in rushing yards in 1989. He was second on the team in rushing touchdowns, despite being primarily used as a fullback in his NFL career. However, he did have 128 carries in his final year with the team.
Praised for his blocking ability from college to the NFL, he was tough as you could ever want. Despite having multiple knee surgeries, Highsmith played in every game with the Oilers after his six-game holdout as a rookie in 1987.
Those knee injuries ultimately led him to retire early, but his life post-Oilers is remarkable. When he was traded from the Oilers, he became the lead blocker for Emmitt Smith for a while with the Dallas Cowboys.
After leaving football, he became a boxer, posting an incredible 27-1-2 record before deciding that he wanted to get back to football.
Choosing to go the scouting route instead of the coaching route, Highsmith worked his way up from a scout up to the vice president of player personnel with the Cleveland Browns, where he works now.
A fantastic career off the field, Highsmith was one of the more underrated players that injuries took from away the game too early. He retired from playing after five games with the 1992 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bringing to a close a short, but memorable six-year NFL playing career.