A good running back is an essential for a good football team, but a great running back is essential for a championship football team. A great running back consists of one with speed and agility, strength and power, and the last and most important component is heart and determination. These are the necessities for a great running back.
Speed and agility are needed to get to the line of scrimmage as fast as possible in order to gain as much yardage as possible when opportunities, or big holes, are created by the linemen. Speed and agility are also necessary in order to gain separation from the opposition when one has passed the line of scrimmage. Once the running back has passed the defensive linemen, he can depend on his quickness and ability to accelerate, decelerate, and shift his body weight to out maneuver the initial running defenders. After the running back has gotten past the initial running defenders, the defensive linemen and line backers, it will be his speed that will determine if he scores a touchdown because in order to score he must past the fastest men on the field- the corner backs and safeties.
Power and strength are needed to establish ones physical presence on the field. A strong and powerful runner gives hits better than he takes hits. If the running back can give good hits to all who attempt to hit or tackle him, it will enable him to instill fear into the hearts of his opposition. By instilling fear it will make the opposing team miss tackles. Another reason power and strength are necessary is because each one makes it hard for the running back to get tackled. For example, having a powerful lower body enables running backs to push piles, drag would-be tacklers, and gain critical yards in short yardage situations.
The last and most important component is heart and determination. Having heart and determination defines a great running back. A running back's willingness to play through pain, the ability to dig deep within himself and strive for the extra yard, and ability to take excruciating hits, no matter how much it may hurt, and dust himself off while jogging back to the huddle with the ball handed to him right after the hit, is what defines heart and determination. There are running backs that lack one of the physical components mentioned, but heart and determination can make up for whatever physical handicaps they may have, whether it is not being as fast as other running backs or not being as strong.
Therefore, a great running back consists of the three elements previously mentioned. A running back's greatness is shown through his actions on the field and ability to do great things consistently. Terelle Davis, Barry Sanders, and Walter Payton are among the few examples that demonstrate these qualities with their ability to do great acts on the field, and consistently throughout their football career's fit the vision of the ideal running back.