Here's an interesting article (written by an African-American, ok, black, journalist) speculating that prejudice is a factor in the lack of opportunities being given white running backs in big time college football and the pros. He makes some really good points. The impetus for the article is the great season that Stanford's Toby Gerhart is having. I'm not sure who else is in the running for the Heisman, but this guy has more than 1,700 yards and 26 TDs and has helped lead the surprising Cardinal to wins over USC, Oregon, and Notre Dame (a game in which he even threw a big TD pass). I had heard talk that he was going to pursue a professional baseball career, but more recently I've heard people talking about his prospects for the NFL Draft.
Although there have been white fullbacks, Tom Rathman comes to mind, that have had some success catching passes out of the backfield, the last white back who enjoyed any sustained success carrying the ball, I believe was Craig James. James, who split time in college at SMU with the great Eric Dickerson, rushed for more than 1,200 yards for the 1985 Pats. I don't know if he got injured the year after or what, but he never came close to duplicating that success and was out of the league a couple years later. He did go on to a very successful career as a sportscaster.
Anyhow, James' 1,000 yard season was almost 25 years ago. Should we start calling Gerhart the Great White Hope? After all, my 10-year-old son keeps asking me if there is any chance he can make it to the NFL. He was the build and skill set of a back, but I told him that based on history he better hope he grows to at least 6'-3" and hope his arm continues to develop if he wants to have even a very slight chance. If Gerhart succeeds in the NFL, well, maybe he can expand that scope of hope a little bit...