Former Pitt running back Qadree Ollison is preparing for his second NFL season with the Atlanta Falcons, and this time around, he will be joined in the Falcons backfield by Georgia alum Todd Gurley. As a result of that recent addition to the roster, there has been debate over which school — Pitt or Georgia — is college football's real Running Back U.
“OK, you can name Georgia running backs,” Ollison said in an interview with Emily Gagnon of Atlanta’s CBS 46 on Tuesday. “You probably can name three or four really good Georgia running backs. Our running backs [at Pitt] do good in college and also do good in the pros. That’s my argument. ... Pitt is RBU."
Pitt and Georgia are both commonly mentioned among the greatest producers of NFL-caliber backfield talent in the college ranks, as they gave rise to Heisman winners Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker as well as countless other stars over the years. And just last week, both Pitt and Georgia were ranked among the top 10 schools to lay claim to the RBU title by NFL.com, based on their results in the last 20 years. In the NFL.com ranking, Georgia came in sixth and Pitt came in 10th.
However, in April, ESPN released a ranking of the top 10 Running Back U’s since the BCS era, and it placed Pitt sixth on the list and did not include Georgia. Instead, it included Alabama, Wisconsin, LSU, Oklahoma, Miami, Texas, Oregon, Arkansas and Auburn. Alabama topped the ESPN and the NFL.com lists.
With standouts like Nick Chubb, Terrell Davis, Garrison Hearst and Sony Michel all rising to prominence in Athens, there is certainly a case to be made that Georgia is the true Running Back U. But Pitt’s claim is also strong, as it has produced the likes of James Conner, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, Dion Lewis, LeSean McCoy and Curtis Martin, among others.
As for Ollison, he is in a good position to carry on Pitt’s tradition of achievement in the NFL, as he led the Falcons in rushing touchdowns as a rookie after he was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL draft. But with Gurley, a two-time All-Pro and former NFL Offensive Player of the Year, in town, Ollison will have to compete with Brian Hill and Ito Smith for playing time behind the star running back.