What does 'all-purpose yardage' mean in American football?

May 6, 2023
Caspian Westbrook
What does 'all-purpose yardage' mean in American football?

An Introduction to All-Purpose Yardage

As a passionate American football fan, I'm often asked about various terms and statistics that are used in the game. One such term that might be unfamiliar to some is "all-purpose yardage." In this article, I'll be explaining what all-purpose yardage means in American football and why it plays such an important role in the sport. So sit back, relax, and let's dive into the world of all-purpose yardage!

Breaking Down All-Purpose Yardage

All-purpose yardage is a statistic used in American football to measure a player's total offensive contribution in a single game or season. It's calculated by adding together the player's rushing yards, receiving yards, and return yards (both on kickoffs and punts). This number gives us a comprehensive view of how effective a player is in gaining yardage for their team.

The Importance of All-Purpose Yardage

Why is all-purpose yardage such an important statistic? Well, it provides a more complete picture of a player's impact on the game. While rushing and receiving yards are important, they only tell part of the story. By including return yardage in the calculation, we can see how much a player contributes to their team's field position and overall success. A player with a high all-purpose yardage total is likely to be a versatile and valuable asset for their team.

Rushing Yards: The Foundation of All-Purpose Yardage

Rushing yards are the backbone of all-purpose yardage, as they represent a player's yardage gained on the ground while running with the football. A strong rushing game can help control the clock and wear down the opposing defense. Running backs and quarterbacks are typically the players who accumulate the most rushing yards, but wide receivers and other skill position players can also contribute to this total.

Receiving Yards: A Critical Component

Receiving yards are another key element of all-purpose yardage, as they measure the total yards a player gains after catching a pass. Wide receivers and tight ends typically lead their team in receiving yards, but running backs can also be pivotal in the passing game. A player with a high receiving yardage total can stretch the field and create big plays for their team.

Return Yards: The Hidden Weapon

While rushing and receiving yards may be more visible on the stat sheet, return yards can be just as important in determining a player's all-purpose yardage. Return yards are gained on kickoff and punt returns, and a skilled returner can dramatically improve their team's field position. Some of the game's most electrifying players have made their mark as return specialists, showcasing their speed and agility in the open field.

Notable All-Purpose Yardage Record Holders

Throughout the history of the NFL, there have been some remarkable all-purpose yardage performances. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice holds the record for the most career all-purpose yards with 23,546, while Darren Sproles holds the single-season record with 2,696 yards in 2011. Additionally, Gale Sayers' 336 all-purpose yards in a single game still stands as the all-time record.

All-Purpose Yardage in College Football

Similar to the NFL, all-purpose yardage is also a significant statistic in college football. The NCAA record for career all-purpose yards is held by Damaris Johnson of Tulsa, who accumulated 7,796 yards between 2008 and 2011. Meanwhile, the single-season record is held by Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, who racked up 3,864 yards in 2015.

Final Thoughts on All-Purpose Yardage

As we've seen, all-purpose yardage is a useful statistic that helps paint a more comprehensive picture of a player's impact on the game. By incorporating rushing, receiving, and return yardage, we can better understand a player's versatility and value to their team. Whether you're a casual fan or a die-hard football enthusiast, I hope this article has shed some light on the fascinating world of all-purpose yardage in American football.