With the 2018 football season right around the corner, it’s time for me to help you catch up on your NC State history before the Wolfpack hits the field. In this piece I will be breaking down the best running backs in school history. Future breakdowns by position will be coming in the near future.
The below rankings are my own. In looking at all of the data supplied below (collegiate achievements only), these were my conclusions.
1) Ted Brown – 1975-78 – It’s stressful creating Top-5 lists, but it’s a relief when the #1 spot is a no-brainer. Ted Brown is the best running back in NC State history. It’s not even close. He graduated in 1978 as the all-time rusher in ACC history, and he still sits on the throne. He was the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns in conference history until 2005. Brown is the only player ever in the ACC to earn 1st Team All-Conference 4 times. He is the career leader in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and total touchdowns at NC State.
2) Dick Christy – 1955-57 – In 1957, Christy was the ACC Player of the Year (1 of 2 running backs in school history to do so), and earned 1st Team All-American (1 of 2 running backs in school history to do so) and 1st Team All-ACC Honors. He also earned 2nd Team All-ACC in 1955. Christy scored all 29 of NC State’s points in the last game of the 1957 season against South Carolina, defeating the Gamecokcs to earn the first ACC Championship in school history. He left NC State holding 14 NC State records and 4 ACC records.
3) Willie Burden – 1971-73 – Burden won the ACC Player of the Year award in 1973 (1 of 2 running backs in school history to do so) after a monster season. He became the first running back in NC State history to rush for over 1,000 yards, leading the ACC in rushing (1,014) in 1973. Burden is one of only five players in NC State history to lead the ACC in rushing in a single season. What makes this feat more impressive is that he did this while sharing the backfield with the “Stallions”, which consisted of fullback Stan Fritts, and running backs Roland Hooks and Charley Young. For context, Fritts and Hooks both almost rushed for 700 yards in 1973. Burden was nearly impossible to bring down in ’73, averaging 6.8 yards per carry (2nd highest season average in NC State history). NC State won the ACC Championship in 1973, and Burden was a huge reason why. Burden was a 1st Team All-ACC selection in 1972 & 73.
4) Joe McIntosh – 1981-84 – McIntosh ranks 2nd all-time at NC State in career rushing yards (3,642). He’s the only other player besides Ted Brown to rush for over 1,000 twice (1981 – 1,190 & 1983 – 1,081). McIntosh earned 1st Team All-ACC honors twice, and was the ACC Freshman of the Year in 1981 after leading the ACC in rushing (1,190).
5) Stan Fritts 1972-74 – While not a halfback, Fritts was a fullback, and by definition, a fullback is a running back. Fritts always shared the backfield. In 1972 and 1973, he shared it with Willie Burden and Charley Young. In 1974, it was Roland Hooks. Despite that, Fritts ranks 8th all-time in career rushing yards (2,542), and 2nd all-time in career rushing touchdowns (41). Fritts had monster season in 1974, leading the ACC in rushing (1,169), and earning 2nd Team All-American honors (AP). He also earned 1st Team All-ACC honors in 1972 and 1974.
Matthew Dayes – 2013-16 – While Dayes never received the accolades he deserved, there is no denying his body of work. He ranks 4th all-time in career rushing yards (2,856). Dayes deserves to be in the conversation about the Top-5 running backs in NC State history, and one of the main reasons was his ability to get in the end zone. His 34 career rushing touchdowns and 40 total touchdowns both rank 3rd in school history. Dayes rushed for over 100 yards 13 times, which ranks 4th.
Anthony Barbour – 1988-92 – In 1992, Barbour rushed for 1,204 yards, which is the most rushing yards in a single season at NC State by anyone not named Ted Brown. Barbour is the only player in school history to average over 6 yards per carry in consecutive seasons (1991 – 6.2 & 1992 – 6.1), and his career average of 5.43 ranks 2nd in school history. He earned 1st Team All-ACC honors in 1992. In my opinion, Barbour is probably deserving of being ranked as 1 of the Top-5 running backs in NC State history. The only reason he isn’t is that he didn’t get the carries needed. He only played in 11 total games in his first two seasons. Barbour ranks 6th all-time in carer rushing yards, but only had 474 career rushing attempts. That’s 175 less than Ray Robinson who ranks 5th all-time in career rushing yards.
Tremayne Stephens – 1994-97 – In my opinion, Stephens is extremely underrated. Stephens ranks 3rd all-time in career rushing yards (3,553) and 5th in yards per carry (5.225). He led the ACC in rushing in 1997, racking up 1,142 yards (1 of only 5 players in school history to lead the ACC in rushing). Stephens earned 1st Team All-ACC honors in 1997 and 2nd Team in 1994.
NC State All-American Running Backs
Ted Brown – Consensus 1st Team – 1978
Stan Fritts – 2nd Team (AP) – 1974
Dick Christy- 1st Team (AP & UPI)
All-ACC NC State Running Backs
Nyheim Hines – 2017
T.A. McLendon – 2002
Tremayne Stephens – 1997
Anthony Barbour – 1992
Joe McIntosh – 1981 & 1983
Ted Brown – 1975-78
Stan Fritts – 1972 & 1974
Willie Burden – 1972-73
Bobby Hall – 1968
Don DeArment – 1966
Shelby Mansfield – 1965
Dick Christy – 1957
Matthew Dayes – 2016
Tremayne Stephens – 1994
Joe Scarpati – 1962-63
Ron Podwika – 1959
Ken Trowbridge – 1958
Dick Hunter – 1957
Dick Christy – 1955
Gary Downs – 1993
NC State Running Backs who won ACC Player of the Year
Willie Burden – 1973
Dick Christy – 1957
NC State Running Backs who won ACC Freahman of the Year
T.A. McLendon – 2002
Ray Robinson – 1998
Joe McIntosh – 1981
Ted Brown – 1975
NC State’s All-Time Rushing Leaders
1. Ted Brown, 1975-78 – 860 carries – 4,602 yards
2. Joe McIntosh, 1981-84 – 729 carries – 3,642 yards
3. Tremayne Stephens, 1994-97 – 680 carries – 3,553 yards
4. Matthew Dayes, 2013-16 – 549 carries – 2,856 yards
5. Ray Robinson, 1998-01 – 649 carries – 2,781 yards
6. Anthony Barbour, 1989-92 – 474 carries – 2,575 yards
7. Shadrach Thornton, 2012-15 – 513 carries – 2,572 yards
8. Stan Fritts, 1972-74 – 534 carries – 2,542 yards
9. Andre Brown, 2005-08 – 523 carries – 2,539 yards
10. Willie Burden, 1971-73 – 491 carries – 2,529 yards
NC State’s All-Time Rushing Touchdown Leaders
1) Ted Brown – 1975-78 – 49
2) Stan Fritts – 1972-74 – 41
3) Matthew Dayes – 2013-16 – 34
4) T.A. McLendon – 2002-04 – 33
5) Ray Robinson – 1998-01 – 30
6) Jaylen Samuels – 2014-17 – 28
7) Tremayne Stephens – 1994-97 – 23
7) Gary Downs – 1990-93 – 23
9) Willie Burden – 1971-73 – 22
9) Andre Brown – 2005-08 – 22
Most 100-yard Rushing Games in NC State History
1. Ted Brown, 1975-78 – 27
2. Joe McIntosh, 1981-84 – 20
3. Tremayne Stephens, 1994-97 – 19
4. Matthew Dayes, 2013-16 – 13
5. Willie Burden, 1971-73 – 12
6. Ray Robinson, 1998-01 – 10
6. T.A. McLendon, 2002-04 – 10
8. Stan Fritts – 1972-74 – 9
8. Shadrach Thornton – 2012-15 – 9
Highest Average Yards Per Carry in NC State History
1. Roland Hooks, 1972-74 – 251 carries – 1,368 yards – 5.45 average
2. Anthony Barbour, 1989-92 – 474 carries – 2,575 yards – 5.432 average
3. Nyheim Hines, 2014-17 – 258 carries – 1,400 yards – 5.426 average
4. Ted Brown, 1975-78 – 860 carries – 4,602 yards – 5.35 average
5. Charley Young, 1971-73 – 317 carries – 1,657 yards – 5.23 average
6. Tremayne Stephens, 1994-97 – 680 carries, 3,553 yards – 5.223 average
7. Dick Christy, 1955-57 – 348 carries – 1,817 yards – 5.221 average
8. Matthew Dayes, 2013-16 – 549 carries – 2,856 yards – 5.202 – average
9. Willie Burden, 1971-73 – 2,529 yards – 5.15 – average
10. Shadrach Thornton, 2012-15 – 513 carries – 2,572 yards – 5.01 average
Players at NC State who have led the ACC in Rushing
NC State Running Backs who have had their Jersey Retired/Honored
Dick Christy – #40
Ted Brown – #23
(both #’s have been retired)
NC State Running Backs who were 1st Round NFL Picks
Ted Brown – 1979 – #16
NC State Running Backs who went to the NFL Pro Bowl
Alex Webster – 1958, 1961
Former NC State Players with Most Rushing Yards & Rushing Touchdowns in NFL
NC State’s All-Time NFL Passing Leaders Headed into 2022 Season
NC State has had 7 former Quarterbacks go on to start games in the NFL. Heading into the 2022 NFL season, Russell Wilson and Jacoby Brissett are the only two former Wolfpackers currently on NFL rosters.
Below is a breakdown of where they rank in career statistical categories as Week 1 approaches.
(Realistically, the only movement I see possibly happening on the below rankings would be Brissett possibly passing Glennon in career touchdown passes, moving into 5th. With Deshaun Watson suspended for a minimum of 6 games, Brissett will start for the Browns.)
Career Passing Yards
- Philip Rivers – 63,440
- Russell Wilson – 37,059
- Roman Gabriel – 29,444
- Erik Kramer – 15,337
- Jacoby Brissett – 7,742
- Mike Glennon – 7,025
- Ryan Finley – 638
Career Passing Touchdowns
- Philip Rivers – 421
- Russell Wilson – 292
- Roman Gabriel – 201
- Erik Kramer – 92
- Mike Glennon – 47
- Jacoby Brissett – 36
- Ryan Finley – 3
- Philip Rivers – 5,277
- Russell Wilson – 3,079
- Roman Gabriel – 2,366
- Erik Kramer – 1,317
- Jacoby Brissett – 727
- Mike Glennon – 689
- Ryan Finley – 58
WATCH: NC State Upsets UCLA in 1974 NCAA Tourney
We’re telling you right now…get some footage and alumni ready for this Holiday Bowl. Bill Walton is a wild dude and based on the west coast. We need Thompson awkwardly laughing as Walton eats a cupcake, candle and all, while big ol’ Burleson is talking about snapping the Bruins’ championship streak.
You also have to admit, broadcast highlights were way cooler back in the day. Jazz music? Nice tinted coloring? Just brilliant use of half speed replays? Put it in our veins.
A look back at NC State great Tommy Burleson, on his birthday
This article was written by Kevin E. Spencer from the North Carolina Expatriates Facebook page. He was kind enough to share it with us in hopes to have it reach NC State fans everywhere.
Tommy Loren Burleson is born ON THIS DAY in Crossnore (population: 192) deep in the North Carolina mountains of Avery County (elevation: 3,392 ft). He will eventually grow to stand well over seven feet tall, and like most young men who rise to that height, especially in North Carolina, he plays basketball.
Tall and thin, (he’s called the “Newland Needle”) but with a knack for getting between a shooter and the basket, and a wingspan that allows him to corral rebounds and own the boards, he leads his Avery County High Vikings to an 85-8 record in his high school career.
However, nearly lost now in the bright light of Burleson’s NC State years (more about those in a moment) are the memories of Burleson and the Avery High Vikings white-hot rivalry with the Marion High Rippers.
Between 1968 and 1970, the two high schools met seven times, playing for Northwestern 3A Conference titles and facing off in the state playoffs. Those games were all sell-outs, and in the crowd for nearly every game sat Dean Smith, Norm Sloan, Bucky Waters, Lefty Driesell, Jack McCloskey, and Bill Gibson, not to mention other major college coaches, with tall Tommy being the center of attention.
On the fifth game of the series, after Burleson and Avery had won the first four straight, Marion Coach Ken Brackett decided to try something different. Avery was anchored by its 2-3 zone defense, with Tommy, of course, clogging up the middle. In practice the week before the game, Brackett has his offense go against defenders with tennis rackets to simulate Burleson’s wingspan. But more than that, he wants to force Burleson and the Vikings out of their impenetrable zone.
The result is a game still talked about by those who were there to see it. It has gone down as the “Freeze Game.” Among the other more unusual aspects of this game: both teams actually shoot 100% from the floor. The catch is, there aren’t that many shots taken.
Marion decides going in that they are going to hold the ball and force Avery out of their zone. Except Burleson and Avery refuse to come out. The result is that Marion keeps the ball down to the final seconds of each quarter, and shoots. The score is 8-8 at the half.
As the game progresses in the same manner in the second half, both teams began to chip and snipe each other. Finally, at just under 2 minutes to go, Burleson hits two free throws to put Avery ahead 12-10. Marion calls timeout, and as Marion’s Archie McIntosh and Avery’s Tom Burleson cross paths…something happens.
What exactly happens depends on which team is doing the talking. McIntosh says Burleson elbows him in the face, Burleson says McIntosh elbows him below the waist. Whichever is right, both boys are instantly flailing away, and both are ejected.
With Burleson out of the game, the Vikings abandon their 2-3 zone, and in the last two minutes, lose 16-13.
Finally breaking the stranglehold Burleson and Avery had on the series, Marion will go on to win the next two games as well. After Burleson and his core of teammates graduates, Marion will also win the eighth game of the series by a comfortable margin.
After that match, McDowell County consolidates, and Marion combines with other area high schools to become McDowell High. The classic Avery-Marion series is over, and the seven-game rivalry goes down in North Carolina High School Basketball history.
How much of that high school rivalry helped fuel the competitive fire that burned in Burleson’s heart in college only he knows, but flame it did…bright and white-hot. Tommy Burleson will go on to play center for Coach Norm Sloan and the NC State Wolfpack.
Perhaps the most under-appreciated player in ACC history, Burleson’s name is sometimes lost among Michael Jordan, David Thompson, James Worthy, Bobby Jones, Cornbread Maxwell, Phil Ford, Brad Daugherty, Nate McMillan, Walter Davis, and a hundred other North Carolina-born players. But Burleson’s contribution to State’s 1974 National Championship cannot be underestimated.
It was Burleson’s tremendous wingspan clearing out underneath the basket that allowed Monte Towe and David Thompson to work their magic, a fact shown indisputably in 1975 after Burleson graduated, and State tried to repeat their National Championship without him.
In two memorable games in the spring of 1974, he showed the world just who he really was. Tommy Burleson played his heart out against Maryland’s Len Elmore and Tom McMillen in the greatest college basketball game ever: the 1974 ACC Championship game between NC State and Maryland.
Three weeks later, in Greensboro at the Final Four, NC State went up against UCLA, winner of the last seven National Championships. UCLA was led by its center, the red-headed and opinionated Bill Walton. The previous November UCLA had handed Burleson and the Pack their only loss in two years. Playing in just their third game of the season, despite having been undefeated the year before, State came out shaky and lost by nearly 20 points. Based on that game, Walton wasn’t particularly worried about NC State….he gets off the jet in Greensboro in sandals, the epitome of Southern California rebellious cool.
Most of us know the details of that epic two-overtime game.
If you were in North Carolina, you almost certainly saw it. State down in regulation and battling back, and then down 74-67 with 3:27 left in the second overtime and again fighting back. Then the final victory as the clock ticked to zero. And if you were fortunate enough to see that game, you know Big Tommy Burleson took Bill Walton to school that day. Walton got his game handed to him.
While the statistics say they played almost to a draw, in reality, Tommy Burleson wrested the National Championship right out of Bill Walton’s hands. Tommy out-played Walton on both ends of the court. Walton may have been Southern California cool…but Tommy was a red and white-hot North Carolina State fire. Burleson dominated Walton that day, despite what Bill Walton might say today.
Burleson was never silky smooth with the basketball. I once saw him corral a defensive rebound, and not immediately seeing an outlet pass available, decide to bring the ball up himself. It wasn’t pretty…each dribble was head high to most of the other players, but he got it over the halfcourt line and into Monte Towe’s hands. At which point Norm Sloan calls timeout, brings Tommy over, puts a friendly arm around his shoulder, and tells him NEVER to do that again.
– member of the Western North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
After basketball, Tommy returns to the mountains of Avery County. He and his wife Denise have three sons, Robert, David, and Quentin. Tommy has been the Director of Inspections and Planning for Avery County for many years now, as well as a grower and seller of Christmas trees. Deeply involved with his church, he spends part of each year doing mission work. And for more than 30 years, he has operated the Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp during July. Tommy also remains very involved with NC State…in fact, you can usually find him at most games. Perhaps the ultimate compliment: Tommy Burleson is as good a person as he was a basketball player.
Perhaps the most underrated player in ACC history, Tommy Burleson may not have been silky smooth, but during his time at State, he did what he did underneath the basket better than anybody else in the country…including Bill Walton.
JERSEYS IN THE RAFTERS: Vic Molodet: #73
Everett Case set the standard for the ACC, leading NC State to the first 3 conference championships (54-56). Ronnie Shavlik was arguably the most decorated player from this dynasty, but everyone knows that a great ‘big man’ is most often accompanied by a point guard that can create and get them the ball in optimal scoring situations. Some tandems are not mentioned as individual players, rather they are always remembered as a pair. For instance, rarely do you hear the name Karl Malone mentioned without the name John Stockton followed right behind it. In the case of Ronnie Shavlik, it was hard to think of the All-American center without thinking about All-American point guard Vic Molodet.
Vic Molodet was a 5’11″ point guard from East Chicago, Indiana. Molodet was the coach on the court that led the Wolfpack to three-straight ACC Championships, beginning with the 1st ever ACC Tournament in 1954. Vic played the game with a sense of flare that electrified the crowds in the early years of Reynolds Coliseum. While Shavlik might have been the focal point of the Wolfpack offense, Molodet didn’t go unnoticed by those who voted for post-season honors. Molodet earned All-ACC honors in all three of his varsity seasons, claiming 2nd team honors 1954 and 1955 and 1st team honors in 1956. Vic would go on to play one of his best performances in the ACC championship game his senior season, when he scored 32 points, taking home the tournament MVP award.
Molodet might have had a responsibility of getting Shavlik the ball in the post, but this didn’t stop the crafty point guard from putting the ball in the hoop. His career scoring average of 14.9 ranks 12th in school history, and his 1,405 career points rank 22nd, and a high percentage of those points came from the charity stripe.
In 1956, Molodet helped lead NC State to a #2 rank nationally, though they didn’t finish the year there.
After earning 1st Team All-American honors as a senior, Molodet went on to be drafted by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the the 1956 NBA draft.
1954 – 13.8pts
1955 – 13.5pts
1956 – 18.2pts
2nd Team – 1954 and 1955
1st Team – 1956
All-ACC Tournament Team
2nd Team – 1955
1st Team – 1956 (MVP)
All-Dixie Classic Team
1954 and 1955
1st Team All-American (Converse) – 1956
Molodet’s #73 jersey was honored and lifted to the rafters on February 24th, 1999.
(Molodet’s #73 jersey is honored, but not retired. The only retired jersey is David Thompson’s #44.)