8. Willie McClendon
If Kevin Mclee was the man who opened “Running Back U” in Athens, McClendon was its first student. He had a quiet season as a sophomore in 1976 while McLee was running the show. McClendon only had 211 yards on 40 carries with five touchdowns.
But as a junior in 1977, he was ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with McLee. His 705 rushing yards that year actually came on less carries (116) than McLee’s 717 yards (178 carries). McClendon also added four touchdowns that year.
1977 was a rough year for Georgia football though. Without Matt Robinson and Ray Goff at quarterback, the Bulldogs could only rely on Mclee and McClendon on offense. While the two delivered, they couldn’t make up for the lack of a passing game and Georgia finished the year 5-6.
Of course, McClendon was alone to lead the Bulldogs rushing attack in 1978 and he had no problem doing so as he broke the school record for rushing yards with 1,312. Plus he tied the school record for rushing touchdowns with 13.
He had more help from the passing game that year as well. Georgia finished the 1978 season 9-2-1. Had they beaten Auburn instead of tying, Georgia would have won the SEC and may have been able to at least split the National Title with Alabama and Southern California.
McClendon graduated with 2,228 yards with 22 touchdowns. After four years with Kevin McLee and Willie McClendon, Georgia was officially one of college football’s “running back universities”.