Mike Warren joined an exclusive club on Saturday vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State. With 15 carries for 73 yards, the nation’s best freshman rusher became the 13th player in Iowa State history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
A native of Lawton, Okla., Warren is the first Cyclone freshman and only the seventh rookie in Big 12 history to achieve the milestone.
Warren entered the club in his 10th game of the season and with only nine total rushes in his first two games. He has 1,070 yards and is averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
He made a vow to reward the outstanding efforts of his offensive line after going over 1,000 yards, and he delivered.
Breaking the 1,000-yard rushing barrier is an impressive feat, considering the pass-happy offensive schemes prevalent in today’s college football atmosphere.
Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads thinks so, too.
“It’s (1,000 yards) still an outstanding benchmark to strive for,” Rhoads said. “Anytime you can have an individual gain that many yards in a season, you know you are doing something right.”
Warren will be the first to tell you that reaching 1,000 yards requires a combination of a lot of things. For one, you have to be an excellent running back. You must possess outstanding vision, speed and strength, all traits of the Cyclone rookie sensation.
“The biggest thing Mike does is that he makes a decision and he sticks to it,” said Cyclone starting left tackle Jake Campos. “As soon as he sees a gap, he will just take it. He’s got the best vision I have ever seen.”
You also have to stay healthy and have an offensive line with sound run-blocking technique. Two more positives for Warren.
“I couldn’t have done anything this year without the offensive line,” Warren said. “This is their achievement too.”
Here is a quick historical review and a few fun facts on Iowa State’s 1,000-yard rushers.
All-American George Amundson was the first Cyclone rush for over 1,000 yards in a season by recording 1,260 yards on Iowa State’s 1971 Sun Bowl team. He ranked 14th nationally in rushing that year and was a key player in helping ISU reach its first bowl game in school history.
Amundson was a junior in 1971 and appeared to have a great shot to reach 1,000 again in 1972. He didn’t, however, but that’s because the versatile Amundson, who was named Big Eight Player of the Year in 1972, moved to quarterback. He then broke ISU’s single-season passing record (1,957 yards). His replacement did reach 1,000 yards, though. Mike Strachan rushed for 1,260 yards in 1972 and became the first player in school history to go over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons when he registered 1,103 yards in 1973.
The W-W Express
The 1975 season was the closest the Cyclones came to having a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the same year. Senior back Jim Wingender led the team with 1,070 yards. He was chased all season by teammate Mike Williams, who tallied 781 yards on the ground. The duo was aptly named the “W-W Express.”
Williams was a junior in 1975 and was pegged as ISU’s primary ballcarrier in 1976. However, a horrible knee injury in the preseason ended Williams’ career. This opened the door for an unknown running back named Dexter Green.
Dexter Green, nicknamed “Money,” grabbed control of the running back position after the unfortunate injury to Williams. He rushed for 1,074 yards as a sophomore (1976) and followed that season by accumulating 1,240 yards on the ground in 1977.
Green was close to becoming the first three-time 1,000-yard rusher, but injuries kept Green out of a number of games in 1978. He fell just nine yards shy, gaining 991 yards in an All-American season.
Dwayne Crutchfield was the first junior college transfer to rush for 1,000 yards as a Cyclone, breaking the school record with 1,312 yards in 1980. The definition of a bruiser, Crutchfield didn’t elude tackles, he went through them with his imposing 6-0, 225-pound frame.
He again reached the 1,000-yard barrier as a senior in 1981 (1,189).
Blaising A Trail
In 1989, junior college transfer Blaise Bryant earned All-America honors by setting a new Cyclone single-season rushing record with 1,516 yards. He led the Big Eight Conference and ranked fourth nationally in rushing, averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry.
Like Green’s senior season, injuries prevented Bryant from reaching the milestone in his final year. He missed two games and received limited carries in others in a 753-yard campaign.
The Davis Brothers
Without a doubt, Troy and Darren Davis rank as one of the greatest brother combinations in the history of Iowa State football. Troy is the standard of Iowa State running backs as the only two-time consensus first-team All-American in school history. Troy led the nation in rushing in 1995 and 1996, rushing for 2,010 and 2,185 yards, respectively. He is still the only player in FBS history to record a pair of 2,000-yard seasons.
Darren also made history by becoming the only Cyclone to record three 1,000-yard seasons, breaking the barrier in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He ranked ninth nationally in rushing yardage in 1999 with 1,388 yards.
Dan McCarney was hired as the Iowa State football coach prior to the 1995 season and it was clearly evident he set a priority on running the ball. With help from the Davis brothers, Iowa State mounted a streak of having a 1,000-yard rusher for a school-record seven-straight seasons (1995-2001).
Ennis Haywood tacked on a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in 2000 and 2001. The streak tied for the sixth-longest in NCAA history at the time.
ISU Single-Season Rushing Leaders
- 2,185 Troy Davis, 1996
- 2,010 Troy Davis, 1995
- 1,516 Blaise Bryant, 1989
- 1,388 Darren Davis, 1999
- 1,312 Dwayne Crutchfield, 1980
- 1,260 George Amundson, 1971
- 1,260 Mike Strachan, 1972
- 1,240 Dexter Green, 1977
- 1,237 Ennis Haywood, 2000
- 1,232 Joe Henderson, 1987
- 1,195 Alexander Robinson, 2009
- 1,189 Dwayne Crutchfield, 1981
- 1,169 Ennis Haywood, 2001
- 1,166 Darren Davis, 1998
- 1,103 Mike Strachan, 1973
- 1,074 Dexter Green, 1976
- 1,070 Mike Warren, 2015
1,070 Jim Wingender, 1975