Pittsburgh Steelers: 15 best running backs in franchise history

Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport
Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport /
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Merril Hoge, Pittsburgh Steelers
Merril Hoge, Pittsburgh Steelers. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport /

Merril Hoge. 14. player. 55. . FB. (1987-93)

Greatest running backs in Pittsburgh Steelers history: #14. Merill Hoge

At No. 14, we have our first fullback on the list, as Merill Hoge comes in here. A slightly undersized for the fullback spot, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Hoge was selected in the 10th round of the 1987 NFL Draft after playing his college ball for Idaho State.

After a rookie season that saw him net 10 total touches, Hoge found himself a key figure on offense as a sophomore. He started eight of 16 games played that year and rushed for 705 yards and three scores. Hoge was also effective as a receiver, grabbing 50 passes for 487 yards (both of which remained career highs for him) and three scores.

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From there, he remained the full-time starter at his position and had more than 600 yards on the ground for the next three seasons.

Hoge ended up getting the ball less often in his final two seasons in Pittsburgh, as he had a total of 92 rushes in 1992 and 1993.

Even without the rush attempts, Hoge remained active in the passing game, pulling in 33 receptions and four touchdowns during his last campaign in the Steel City.

He left Pittsburgh after the 1993 NFL season, but things didn’t go well for him once he did leave. Hoge who has become a well-known analyst with ESPN had to retire after one season with the Chicago Bears following his time with the Steelers.

This came following a scary incident in 1994 when he was cleared to play, despite team doctors not examining him following a concussion.

He sustained further damage as he was again concussed a few weeks later and stopped breathing. Hoge was resuscitated, but spent a couple of days in the ICU and never played again. He’s now an advocate for studying CTE and discovering ways to help eliminate the kind of injuries he sustained.