Wisconsin's best modern-day running back products: Aaron Stecker

Stew Milne- USA TODAY Sports

After examining the career of Terrell Fletcher, we examine the curious case of Aaron Stecker, a Wisconsin product who transferred to Western Illinois and left an imprint in the NFL for a decade.

Last week, we began the discussion and debate on Bucky's 5th Quarter as to who the best modern-day running back Wisconsin has produced at that position. We profiled former San Diego Chargers running back Terrell Fletcher and his eight-year career in Southern California, which featured him more as a receiver in a back-up role.

Below is the chart laid out last week, detailing famous Badger running backs and their respective NFL careers:

UW RBs Years Pro Bowls Career Rush Yds Career Rec Yds YPC (RUSH) YPC (REC) Total TD Best Rushing Season
Brent Moss 1 0 90 -3 4.1 -3.0 0 90 yds (1995)
Terrell Fletcher 8 0 1,871 1,943 3.6 7.5 13 543 yds, 3.5 YPC (1998)
Aaron Stecker 10 0 1,526 1,175 4.0 9.1 11 448 yds, 3.9 YPC, 5 TD (2007)
Ron Dayne 7 0 3,722 340 3.8 6.0 28 773 yds, 4.0 YPC, 6 TD (2007)
Michael Bennett 11 1 3,703 1,294 4.4 12.1 19 1,296 yds, 5.1 YPC, 5 TD (2002)
Brian Calhoun 2 0 54 55 3.9 5.0 0 35 yds, 5.0 YPC, 0 TD (2007)
P.J. Hill 1 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0 N/A
John Clay 1 0 41 0 4.1 0.0 1 2 games, 41 yds, TD (2011)
Montee Ball? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Aaron Stecker


Career Stats (Source: NFL.com)
Years Played in NFL 2000-2009 (Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta)
Best Year Rushing 2007 - 115 carries, 448 yds, 3.9 avg 5 TD
Best Year Receiving 2005 - 35 catches, 281 yards
Career Rushing Yards/Avg 1,526/4.0
Career Receptions/Receiving Yards 166/1,175
Total TDs (Rush/Rec/Other) 12 (8/3/1 KO return)
Best All-Purpose Yards Year 2005 - 1,316 yds (363 yds rushing, 281 yds receiving, 672 KO return yds)
X-Factor 3,934 KO return yards, 23.1 yds/return (170 returns)

Although Aaron Stecker left Wisconsin for Western Illinois and shattered records for the Fighting Leathernecks, his career began as a Badger and he had some success, rushing for 100 yards in a game three times in 1995 and 1996 before the emergence of one Ron Dayne. Stecker went on play for three NFL teams and became a Super Bowl champion with Tampa Bay, contributing not just in a back-up role out of the backfield, but extending his career by specializing in playing special teams.

The X-Factor that makes him a contender as Wisconsin's best modern-day running back product: His contributions on special teams. With nearly 4,000 kick-off return yards plus his career rushing and receiving yards, he leads all former modern-day Badgers running back products with 6,635 total all-purpose yards. His versatile nature led to a long, 10-year career in the pros, filling in as a spot starter (six games in the 2007 season was his best rushing season), while also being a threat as a receiver out of the backfield with 166 career receptions, second behind Fletcher out of the four.

Why he isn't the best modern-day running back product: Last week, we asked the question of which Wisconsin running back produced the best NFL career at that position. Although he leads this group in all-purpose yards, he ranks fourth out of the four in the contenders' list in rushing, third in receiving yards and last in total touchdowns (note: Dayne's total rushing touchdowns nearly quadruple Stecker's). There's no doubt he carved out a good career being a jack-of-all-trades, but in terms of being the best running back out of the backfield, the others out-rushed him and both Bennett and Fletcher out-gained him in receiving yards.

Overall thoughts: Aaron Stecker moved on from Wisconsin and prospered in the pros for 10 years, contributing primarily on special teams but providing sparks as an alternative out of the backfield in supporting roles. He leads all of the modern-day Wisconsin running back products in all-purpose yards, but trails in production on the offensive side of the ball. One can argue that does not matter at all, however. He does, after all, lead Dayne, Bennett and Fletcher in one other major category: winning a Super Bowl ring.

Ranking: No. 4 modern-day UW running back product

Next week: The man, the myth, the Wisconsin legend: Ron Dayne.

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