Happy birthday to Barry Sanders, who turned 53 today. The legendary Wichita North and Detroit Lions running back was born July 16, 1968. Sanders grew up to become arguably the greatest running back in NFL history with 10-time NFL Pro Bowl selections, Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and Kansas All-State Honoree.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Sanders attended Wichita North High School. Sanders did not become the starting running back until the fourth game of his senior year. He rushed for 1,417 yards in the final seven games of the season, which earned him all-state honors. During that seven-game span, Sanders averaged 10.2 yards per carry, but he was overlooked by most college recruiters.
Upon enrolling at Oklahoma State, Sanders dominated the competition and led the country in 1988, averaging 7.6 yards per run and over 200 yards per game, including over 300 yards in four games. Sanders was also utilized as the team’s punt and kickoff returner despite his huge workload of 344 carries, contributing another 516 yards on special teams.
Sanders broke collegiate football season records with 2,628 rushing yards, 3,248 total yards, 234 points, 39 touchdowns, 37 rushing touchdowns, five consecutive 200-yard games, 11 consecutive games with at least two touchdowns, and nine games with at least three touchdowns.
During his 10-year career, Barry Sanders never had a season with fewer than 1,100 yards. From 1994 through 1997, he only had one season with fewer than 1,300 yards and ran for at least 1,500 yards four years in a row. In 1998, he came up just short with 1,491 yards.
Sanders carried the Lions to their best playoff run, which still holds true today. Then, in the midst of his prime, he walked away from the game. His running yards per game of 99.8 are second only to Jim Brown’s 104.3.
Barry Sanders field is a staple in a North Wichita neighborhood, acting as a home for the Greater Wichita Youth Football League for years.
Happy 53rd birthday to the legend! Watch Barry’s 50 best plays here: Barry Sanders Top 50 Most Ridiculous Plays of All-Time | NFL Highlights