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From left to right: Darrel Williams, Leonard Fournette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire at LSU (top) and with their current NFL teams this season (bottom)

From Billy Cannon to Dalton Hilliard to Kevin Faulk to Joseph Addai, pick a point in modern NFL history and it's a safe bet that an LSU running back isn't far away.

But when the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off in Super Bowl 55, the current trio of LSU running backs on NFL rosters has a chance to earn a handful of footnotes all their own.

The biggest? Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams and Leonard Fournette will be the first former Tigers running backs to meet on opposite sides of a Super Bowl matchup.

“It feels great, Louisiana -- down south -- that’s where football is. Not just Louisiana, Florida too, that’s where football's at," Fournette said this week. "That’s what we’re bred; we’re bred football players.”

Sunday's game will mark the 42nd time since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 that any two former LSU running backs each touched the ball as opponents in a game, according to research by The Advocate.

Of the first 41 such matchups, only three have come in the playoffs: 

2015, wild card round: Chiefs 30, Texans 0

  • Spencer Ware (Chiefs): 16 carries, 67 yards, TD
  • Alfred Blue (Texans): 17 carries, 99 yards

2008, wild card round: Chargers 23, Colts 17 (OT)

  • Joseph Addai (Colts): 16 carries, 44 yards, TD; 4 catches, 28 yards
  • Jacob Hester (Chargers): 1 catch, 6 yards

2006, AFC Championship: Colts 38, Patriots 34

  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 4 carries, 27 yards; 1 catch, 5 yards
  • Joseph Addai (Colts): 14 carries, 56 yards; 2 catches, 4 yards

The trio on Sunday will be the first LSU running backs to meet in the playoffs since 2015, when former Chiefs running back Spencer Ware helped lead Kansas City to a 30-0 victory over Alfred Blue and the Houston Texans in the wild card round.

The matchup that occurred most often showcased former Tigers backs Kevin Faulk and Joseph Addai, with the pair facing off six times as members of the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, respectively.

The quarterback in many of those matchups, Tom Brady, will take the field with Fournette this weekend. The 6-time Super Bowl champion was on the field for nearly half of the matchups this century -- with Sunday representing his 13th career game played with LSU running backs on each side of the action.

MOST COMMON LSU RUNNING BACK MATCHUPS

Since 1970; minimum 1 touch on offense to qualify

6 TIMES

  • Joseph Addai-Kevin Faulk
10127070.JPG

LSU running back Kevin Faulk runs past Gators defenders during LSU's upset of No. 1 Florida in 1997.

4 TIMES

  • Alfred Blue-Jeremy Hill

3 TIMES

  • LaBrandon Toefield-Domanick Williams
  • Dalton Hilliard-Gene Lang

2 TIMES

  • Alfred Blue-Spencer Ware
  • Alfred Blue-Steven Ridley
  • Joseph Addai-Jacob Hester


The most recent LSU running back showcase -- also involving Brady -- came in Week 12 of this season. Fournette, Edwards-Helaire and Williams all saw the field during the Chiefs 27-24 victory over the Bucs. Williams logged eight snaps on offense but never touched the ball.

He figures to be a much bigger part of the offense in the Super Bowl rematch -- especially with health on his side.

"That was the only thing really holding Darrel back, was being able to stay healthy consistently," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said this week. "He spent so much time rehabbing this past offseason and got himself into great shape. ... He's a really smart football player, so you see him produce on the field, but we all have confidence in him."

The Marrero native recorded just 39 carries for 169 yards and a touchdown in the regular season, but emerged as the Chiefs' leading rusher throughout the team's playoff run with 26 carries for 130 yards and a score in wins over the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills.

If Williams, Fournette and Edwards-Helaire each get a touch on offense, they'd become just the fourth LSU trio in the past half-century to claim that calling card. The most recent such game was in 2011 when Kevin Faulk, Stevan Ridley and Joseph Addai each saw action as the Patriots faced the Colts in the Week 13.

LSU TRIO MATCHUPS

(since 1970; all three must have at least one touch on offense to qualify)

1984

  • Gene Lang (Broncos): 3 carries, 18 yards, TD; 1 catch, 5 yards
  • Jesse Myles (Broncos): 1 carry, 2 yards, 1 catch, 10 yards |
  • Charles Alexander (Bengals): 17 carries, 45 yards, TD; 3 catches, 15 yards

1987

  • Gene Lang (Broncos): 4 carries, 15 yards; 4 catches, 41 yards
  • Garry James (Lions): 9 carries, 34 yards; 1 catch, 21 yards
  • Karl Bernard (Lions): 1 carry, 1 yard; 1 catch, 10 yards (Lions)
bowl7.122818

LSU running back Joseph Addai scampers past Miami's Jon Beason for a touchdown during the 2005 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

2011

  • Joseph Addai (Colts): 13 carries, 39 yards, 1 catch 2 yards
  • Stevan Ridley (Patriots): 8 carries, 33 yards
  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 2 carries, 5 yards; 1 catch, 13 yards

In total there will be six former Tigers active, including Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu and Bucs linebackers Devin White and Kevin Minter, and Sunday will mark the 20th consecutive season there's been at least one player representing LSU in the Super Bowl. 

"LSU is a big school, a big stage, and we've got an opportunity to play on another big stage this week," Williams said. "I wish success to all those guys, and this is a big moment for all of us."

The importance of the running back showcase has been a question posed to the three former Tigers early and often in the week leading up to the showdown in Tampa Bay, with the ties running much deeper than purple and gold.

Photos: Trick play, powerful Leonard Fournette runs, wild crowd all part of LSU's big win vs. Florida _lowres

LSU running backs Leonard Fournette (7) and Darrel Williams (34) work during warmup drills before facing Florida in 2015.

Fournette and Williams each arrived at LSU in 2014, with Fournette departing for the NFL draft after the 2016 season. Williams stayed in Baton Rouge for a final season and a featured role in the Tigers offense and a season to help prepare a freshman to become the next great Tigers running back in Edwards-Helaire. Williams went undrafted the next season before joining the Chiefs as a free agent.

Edwards-Helaire helped lead the Tigers to a College Football Playoff championship in 2019, then rejoined his former teammate after the Chiefs made him the final selection in the first round of the NFL draft last April.

The working relationship these days, as both players described it? A brotherhood. 

"Being able to show him, to help him out, to help him succeed, and help him become the running back that he’s becoming today, it means a lot," Williams said. "I just hope for the most success for him, and you know he’s making the most of his opportunity.” 

lsumissst.091717 HS 239.JPG

LSU running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) and LSU Darrel Williams (28) take the field before kickoff against Mississippi State in 2017.

After Edwards-Helaire went down with an injury in a Week 15 win over the Saints, it was Williams who gained the extra run over the final two weeks of the regular season. His biggest supporter was the man for whom he was filling in.

"Darrel is like a real, legit older brother to me and he’s been guiding me the whole way," Edwards-Helaire said. "So it was special for me to know that he was going to be in the room with me.” 

But it was Fournette's highlights that Edwards-Helaire admits he spent "millions" of hours watching during his high school days in Baton Rouge, and watching No. 7 truck opponents in purple and gold is what drove him to become a great Tigers running back himself. Still, the rookie made a compelling argument why it's his side of the LSU-per bowl that Tigers fans should place their rooting interest. 

"[I was] just a guy early on … who didn’t really get as much fan love at first, other than my high school reps and everything, at LSU," he said. "So I still feel like I still need some fan love from over the top and back in from LSU on that end. So ultimately I feel like it all should come back this way."


FULL LIST OF LSU RUNNING BACK MATCHUPS (since 1970)

*Minimum 1 touch on offense by each player to qualify

1984

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  • Gene Lang (Broncos): 3 carries, 18 yards, TD; 1 catch, 5 yards 
    Jesse Myles (Broncos): 1 carry, 2 yards, 1 catch, 10 yards 
    Charles Alexander (Bengals): 17 carries, 45 yards, TD; 3 catches, 15 yards
Hokie Gajan as an LSU Tiger 'was the consummate human being'

Former New Orleans Saints player and LSU standout Hokie Gajan.

  • Charles Alexander (Bengals): 17 carries, 58 yards; 2 catches, 5 yards
    Hokie Gajan (Saints): 12 carries, 47 yards; 7 catches, 90 yards
1985
  • Charles Alexander (Bengals): 4 carries, 19 yards; 1 catch, 6 yards
    Herman Fontenot (Browns): 1 pass attempt
  • Gene Lang (Broncos): 1 catch, 10 yards, TD
    Hokie Gajan (Saints): 9 carries, 62 yards, TD; 5 catches, 65 yards
1986
  • Herman Fontenot (Browns): 1 catch, 35 yards
    Garry James (Lions): 4 carries, 10 yards; 6 catches, 34 yards
1987
  • Gene Lang (Broncos): 4 carries, 15 yards; 4 catches, 41 yards
    Garry James (Lions): 9 carries, 34 yards; 1 catch, 21 yards
    Karl Bernard (Lions): 1 carry, 1 yard; 1 catch, 10 yards (Lions)
1988
  • Gene Lang (Falcons): 1 carry, 1 yard; 7 catches, 57 yards
    Dalton Hilliard (Saints): 1 pass attempt; 25 carries, 127 yards; 6 catches, 68 yards, TD
Dalton Hilliard on Leonard Fournette: 'He's a true talent'

LSU running back Dalton Hilliard celebrates with teammates. Hilliard's LSU career spanned the 1982-'85 seasons before spending eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints.

  • Dalton Hilliard (Saints): 20 carries, 62 yards, TD; 4 catches, 51 yards
    Garry James (Lions): 11 carries, 15 yards; 2 catches 12 yards
1989
  • Gene Lang (Falcons): 1 carry, 0 yards; 1 catch, 17 yards
    Dalton Hilliard (Saints): 25 carries, 93 yards, TD; 7 catches, 97 yards, TD
  • Gene Lang (Falcons): 3 carries, 3 yards; 3 receptions, 23 yards
    Dalton Hilliard (Saints): 29 carries, 158 yards, TD; 3 catches 22 yards
  • Gene Lang (Falcons): 4 carries, 17 yards, TD; 5 catches, 53 yards
    Herman Fontenot (Packers): 1 carry, 5 yards; 3 catches, 60 yards, TD
  • Herman Fontenot (Packers): 1 catch, 8 yards
    Dalton Hilliard (Saints): 12 carries, 43 yards, TD
1999
  • Cecil Collins (Dolphins): 20 carries, 59 yards; 1 catch, 5 yards
    Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 2 carries, 3 yards
2003
  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 23 carries, 80 yards, 8 catches, 108 yards
    Domanick Williams (Texans): 24 carries, 69 yards; 1 catch, 6 yards
  • LaBrandon Toefield (Jaguars): 1 completion, 32 yards
    Domanick Williams (Texans): 16 carries, 53 yards
#TBT: LSU's last non-conference regular-season loss was . . . ?

LSU running back LaBrandon Toefield runs against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, in 2002. 

2004
  • Domanick Williams (Texans): 22 carries, 56 yards; 5 catches, 39 yards
    LaBrandon Toefield (Jaguars): 5 carries, 22 yards; 4 catches, 28 yards
  • Domanick Williams (Texans): 31 carries, 158 yards; TD; 4 catches, 31 yards
    LaBrandon Toefield (Jaguars): 3 carries, 13 yards; 2 catches, -5 yards
2006
  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 4 carries, 24 yards; 5 catches, 31 yards
    Joseph Addai (Colts): 18 carries, 43 yards, TD
  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 4 carries, 27 yards; 1 catch, 5 yards
    Joseph Addai (Colts): 14 carries, 56 yards; 2 catches, 4 yards … playoffs
  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 2 carries, 8 yards; 2 catches, 12 yards
    LaBrandon Toefield (Jaguars): 1 carry, 2 yards
2007
  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 7 carries, 29 yards; 3 catches, 20 yards, TD
    Joseph Addai (Colts): 26 carries, 112 yards; 5 catches, 114 yards, TD
2008
  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 8 carries, 48 yards; 3 catches, 29 yards
    Jacob Hester (Chargers): 1 carry, 0 yards
  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 1 completion, -2 yards; 10 carries, 60 yards; 5 catches, 38 yards
    Joseph Addai (Colts): 17 carries, 32 ards; 2 catches, 10 yards
  • Joseph Addai (Colts): 16 carries, 70 yards; 7 catches, 31 yards
    Jacob Hester (Chargers): 3 catches, 16 yards, TD
  • Joseph Addai (Colts): 16 carries, 44 yards, TD; 4 catches, 28 yards
    Jacob Hester (Chargers): 1 catch, 6 yards … playoffs
2009
  • Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 12 carries, 79 yards; 2 catches, 7 yards
    Joseph Addai (Colts): 10 carries, 41 yards, TD; 2 catches, 27 yards, TD
2010
  • Joseph Addai (Colts): 17 carries, 128 yards, TD
    Keiland Williams (Washington): 2 carries, 12 yards; 4 catches, 19 yards, TD
2011
  • Joseph Addai (Colts): 13 carries, 39 yards, 1 catch 2 yards
    Stevan Ridley (Patriots): 8 carries, 33 yards
    Kevin Faulk (Patriots): 2 carries, 5 yards; 1 catch, 13 yards
Stevan Ridley, Russell Allen

New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (22) high-steps toward the end zone for a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011. 

  • Jacob Hester (Chargers): 1 carry, 12 yards
    Stevan Ridley (Patriots): 2 carries, 9 yards
2012
  • Stevan Ridley (Patriots): 18 carries, 84 yards
    Richard Murphy (Jaguars): 10 carries 29 yards
2014
  • Stevan Ridley (Patriots): 27 carries, 13 yards, TD
    Jeremy Hill (Bengals): 2 carries, 1 yard; 3 catches, 68 yards
  • Alfred Blue (Texans): 16 carries, 46 yards; 3 catches, 20 yards
    Jeremy Hill (Bengals): 18 carries, 87 yards, TD; 1 catch 9 yards
2015
  • Stevan Ridley (Jets): 4 carries, 0 yards; 1 catch, -5 yards
    Alfred Blue (Texans): 21 carries, 58 yards; 2 catches, 34 yards, TD
  • Spencer Ware (Chiefs): 16 carries, 67 yards, TD
    Alfred Blue (Texans): 17 carries, 99 yards … playoffs
Why LSU's 9-6 OT win over Alabama in 2011 is still relevant

Former LSU running back Spencer Ware (11) is pushed out of bounds by an Alabama defdner in 2011.

  • Alfred Blue (Texans): 12 carries, 22 yards; 1 catch 9 yards
    Jeremy Hill (Bengals): 7 carries, 15 yards; 3 catches, 5 yards
2016
  • Spencer Ware (Chiefs): 10 carries, 57 yards; 2 catches, 48 yards
    Alfred Blue (Texans): 5 carries, 11 yards
  • Alfred Blue (Texans): 21 carries, 73 yards, TD; 4 catches, 17 yards
    Jeremy Hill (Bengals): 7 carries, 8 yards
2017
  • Stevan Ridley (Steelers): 9 carries, 28 yards
    Alfred Blue (Texans): 16 carries, 108 yards
 
2018
  • Stevan Ridley (Steelers): 1 carry, 2 yards; 1 catch, 5 yards
    Spencer Ware (Chiefs): 1 carry, 3 yards
  • Jeremy Hill (Patriots): 4 carries, 25 yards; 1 catch, 6 yards
    Alfred Blue (Texans): 5 carries, 36 yards, TD
2020
  • Leonard Fournette (Bucs): 3 carries, 10 yards; 3 catches, 10 yards
    Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs): 11 carries, 37 yards; 1 catch, 2 yards

Email Jeff Nowak at jnowak@theadvocate.com

Twitter: @Jeff_Nowak