John Settle is now in his fifth season as running backs coach at Wisconsin.
The 2010 season has been one of the most productive in recent memory. Averaging 247.3 rushing yards per game, Wisconsin holds the No. 12 rushing attack in the country. No other team in the country can match the three 800-yard rushers that the Badgers have. In the last three weeks of the regular season, Wisconsin rushed for 1,024 yards and scored 17 rushing touchdowns.
James White became the seventh Badger to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. White leads the Badgers with 1,029 rushing yards this season, third in the country among freshmen. His 6.95 yards per carry is on pace to break Wisconsin's single-season record and ranks second in the country among running backs with at least 100 carries. White was also a second-team All-Big Ten choice by the media and an honorable mention selection by the coaches.
With 64 more rushing yards from John Clay and 136 more from Montee Ball, Wisconsin would become the first team in FBS history to boast three 1,000-yard running backs in the same season. With the Rose Bowl still to be played, the Wisconsin offense has already broken school records for rushing touchdowns in a season (46) and points in a season (520).
Settle has enjoyed a productive and successful four years with the Badgers. A UW running back has gone over 1,000 yards on the ground each season and Wisconsin has led the Big Ten in rushing in each of the past three years.
Last year, under Settle's tutelage, sophomore running back John Clay earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors. Clay rushed for 1,517 yards to lead the Big Ten and rank eighth in the country. He was just the second sophomore in school history to rush for more than 1,500 yards and his single-season total ranks ninth in school history. Clay's nine 100-yard rushing games, tied for the fifth-most in the country and the fourth-best in school history. He also led the Big Ten with 18 rushing touchdowns, a mark that was tied for seventh in the country and tied for fourth in school history.
Behind Clay, W led the Big Ten and ranked 15th in the country in rushing offense, averaging 203.9 yards per game on the ground. The Badgers were 10-0 in 2009 when rushing for at least 150 yards. UW's second-leading rusher in 2009 was true freshman Montee Ball, who averaged better than 65.0 yards per game over the final five games of the season.
The prior season, 2008, UW led the Big Ten and ranked 14th in the country in rushing, averaging 211.2 yards per game on the ground. That was Wisconsin's best rushing average since 1999. Junior P.J. Hill went over the 1,000-yard mark for the third-straight season and Clay's 884 rushing yards were the fourth-best by a UW freshman in history.
In 2007, Hill reached the 1,000-yard mark (1,212) for the second-straight campaign, though he was hampered by an injury late in the year. When Hill was out, Settle developed true freshman Zach Brown (568 yards) and sophomore Lance Smith (429) into viable running threats. Wisconsin rushed for 2,610 yards in 2007, the school's highest total since 2002. UW's 200.8-yard per-game average ranked second in the Big Ten.
In 2006 Hill earned national and Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection after leading the conference in rushing with 1,569 yards (second-most ever for a Badger rookie) and 16 total touchdowns. Hill also led the Big Ten in all-purpose yardage (135.9 ypg) and tied for the league lead in scoring (7.4 ppg). Hill was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award.
Prior to coming to Wisconsin, Settle served eight seasons as running backs coach at Fresno State, where he tutored six 1,000-yard rushers, including Wendell Mathis, who rushed for 1,313 yards and 15 touchdowns. Bryson Sumlin earned second-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors (WAC) when he ran for 1,102 yards and 12 TDs in 2004. He was joined that season by Mathis, who rushed for 995 yards and 12 scores, making Fresno State one of only two schools in the nation with two running backs ranked among the national top 50.
In 2003 Dwayne Wright became the third Bulldog in three seasons to surpass the 1,000-yard mark when he gained 1,038 yards. Rodney Davis set the school rushing record with a 1,586-yard campaign in 2002. Paris Gaines carried for 1,044 yards in 2001. Settle also developed Derrick Ward, the 1999 team rushing leader, freshman All-American and current Tamp Bay Buccaneer. In addition, Settle coached 1998 WAC Pacific Division Offensive Player of the Year and 1,000-yard rusher Jamie Kimbrough.
Settle went to Fresno State after a three-year stint (1995-98) as an offensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens franchise under head coaches Bill Belicheck and Ted Marchibroda. During that time he coached running backs like Lorenzo White, Leroy Hoard, Earnest Byner and Priest Holmes. Settle began his coaching career at his alma mater, Appalachian State, where he assisted with running backs in 1994.
Settle was a four-year letterman (1983-86) as a running back at Appalachian State, where he played one season for current Texas head coach Mack Brown and another three years for Sparky Woods. Settle finished as the school's career rushing leader with 4,409 yards (then third-most in NCAA Division I-AA history) and 43 touchdowns. He was the Southern Conference Player of the Year as a senior after rushing for 1,661 yards and 20 TDs. The two-time All-American also scored a conference-record five TDs against Davidson.
Settle signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent and played for coaches Jerry Glanville and Marion Campbell. He played a total of six seasons in the NFL, including four with Atlanta (1987-90) and two with the Washington Redskins. He accumulated 1,594 yards of total offense (1,024 rushing and 570 receiving) in 1988, becoming the first free agent in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He was named to the Pro Bowl and the All-Madden Team in 1988. He registered three 100-yard rushing performances and three 100-yard receiving games that season. He also played for the Redskins' Super Bowl championship team in 1991.
A 1989 graduate of Appalachian State with a degree in criminal justice, Settle and his wife, Karen, have three children: Jonathan, Leighton and Devynn. Settle's No. 23 was retired by his alma mater and he was inducted into the school's hall of fame in 1994.