Photo Credit: via The Daily Gopher

Marion Barber III: A Look Back

At 5–11, 218 pounds, Marion Barber III was one of the University of Minnesota’s all-time best running backs. He was a legacy of the Golden Gophers, the son of Marion Barber, a star running back in his own right for the Gophers from 1977 to 1980 and in the NFL for the New York Jets.

This is a look back at his football career.

High School Star on Both Sides of the Ball

During his senior year of high school at Wayzata (MN), Barber rushed for 1778 yards and scored 18 rushing touchdowns. And on defense, he posted 10 INTs.

2001 Freshman Season

Barber saw action in 11 games as a true freshman for a team that went 4–7. He rushed for 742 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per rush.

Barber rushed for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns in a win over Michigan State.

2002 Season

Barber only played in two games during the 2002 season. He rushed for 69 yards and no touchdowns.

2003 Sophomore Season

In 2003, Minnesota won its first six games as Barber rushed for 543 yards and 13 TDs over that span. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry.

His highest rushing total of the season was a 197-yard effort in a loss to Michigan.

Barber finished the season with 1196 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. His touchdowns total ranked in the NCAA Top Ten in 2003 and ranks 2nd all-time in a single season at Minnesota.

For his efforts, Barber was named to the All-Big Ten team. Minnesota finished the season 10–3, including a 31–30 win over Oregon in the Sun Bowl.

2004 Junior Season

In the 2004 season, the Golden Gophers won their first five games as Barber rushed for 602 yards and scored 7 rushing TDs. He totaled 1269 yards and 11 TDs for the season and averaged 5.5 yards per rush.

In a 34–16 win over Colorado State, Barber rushed for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns on 31 carries.

The Golden Gophers finished 7–5 and beat Alabama 20–16 in the Music City Bowl.

Career at Minnesota

For his career, Barber posted these numbers:

· 3276 yards (5th all-time at the school).

· He scored 35 rushing touchdowns (2nd all-time at the school).

Video Credit:

Barber was selected in the 4th round by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Pro Career

Barber played seven seasons in the NFL, six for Dallas and one with the Chicago Bears.

He rushed for 4780 yards and scored 53 rushing touchdowns, and also totaled 1330 receiving yards and scored 6 receiving touchdowns.

In 2007, Barber earned a Pro Bowl selection after rushing for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Tragically, Barber was found dead on June 1st in his apartment in Frisco, TX.

He was 38 years old.

Thanks for reading.

Material for this article was sourced from 2003 Minnesota Golden Gophers Stats | College Football at, 2004 Minnesota Golden Gophers Stats | College Football at, Marion Barber III Stats |, Archives — University of Minnesota Athletics (, The Daily Gopher (, Story by Jeff Wald,, June 1, 2022.



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Tony Thomas

Tony Thomas

I’m a Grandparent, military veteran, and college football junkie. My articles have appeared on, the Runner Sports, and Death Valley Voice.