Leading the NFL in Rushing Touchdowns at 31 Years Old: Raheem Mostert’s Unlikely Rise to Stardom

Raheem Mostert

The peak age for running backs is between 23 and 27 years old, significantly lower than any other position in football. Running backs in the NFL used to be the focal point of an offense. To most teams, they have now become a rotating and dispensable piece to an offense that can be replaced easily.

The norm has become running backs getting thrown aside once they reach the end of their short peak. There are some exceptions to this norm, however. Notably, superstar backs such as Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffery, and Austin Ekeler.

An unexpected name that has broken this trend and succeeded at an older age is the Miami Dolphins’ Raheem Mostert. Leading the NFL with 14 rushing touchdowns at 31 years old, Mostert has taken the league by storm in 2023. But his long journey and story to NFL stardom is much more intriguing.


Raheem Mostert took the road less trodden. From his college days at Purdue to the present day in Miami.


Mostert played college football at Purdue University from 2011 to 2014. He spent his first three seasons with the Boilermakers as a wide receiver and kick returner. As a freshman, he recorded 108 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 16 attempts, adding an impressive 837 kick return yards and a touchdown on 25 returns. His sophomore and junior seasons saw the same limited action on offense with kick return duties, which he continued to excel at.


In Mostert’s senior season, he finally saw an extended role on offense. In 11 games, he recorded 529 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 93 attempts, with an additional 18 receptions for 116 yards. Additionally, Mostert returned 34 kickoffs for 731 yards.

The speedy running back and return man declared for the 2015 NFL Draft. He showcased an impressive 4.38-second 40-yard dash at his pro day but ultimately went undrafted.

Bouncing Around During Early Years In The NFL

Mostert began his NFL career by signing as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. He impressed in the 2015 preseason with 351 total yards and 162 return yards on five attempts. Despite his efforts, he did not make the Eagles’ final 2015 roster but was signed to the team’s practice squad.

The rookie didn’t last long in Philadelphia, as he was signed off the practice squad to the Miami Dolphins’ active roster. Mostert didn’t see much action in Miami, appearing in just one game, and was released about a month later.


Mostert’s next stop came with the Baltimore Ravens, where he appeared in seven matchups and returned five kicks for 164 yards. After about two months in Baltimore, the rookie was waived.

The Cleveland Browns claimed the running back, and he was named the team’s starting kick returner for the teams’ final three games. He returned 12 kicks for 309 yards. Mostert signed a one-year tender offer but was released before the 2016 season.

A six-day stop with the New York Jets led to Mostert signing with the Chicago Bears practice squad. He appeared in two games for Chicago but was released from the team. The 24-year-old would later sign with the San Francisco 49ers, where he would spend the majority of his career.

Career Resurgence With The 49ers

Mostert played in the 49ers 2016 season finale, recording one carry for six yards. In 2017, the 25-year-old appeared in 11 games, recording six carries for 30 rushing yards and five kick returns for 83 yards. He was placed on injured reserve, which caused him to miss five games.

2018 saw a more extended role for Mostert in the San Francisco offense. A 12-carry, 87-yard performance against the Green Bay Packers and a seven-carry for 86-yard showing against the Oakland Raiders, where he scored his first NFL touchdown, headlined a promising season. He finished 2018 with 261 rushing yards on 34 carries in 9 appearances.

Before the 2019 season, Mostert signed a three-year contract extension with the 49ers. The extension was well worth it. In 16 games, Mostert recorded 137 carries for 772 yards and eight touchdowns, 14 receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Raheem Mostert became a household name after the NFC Championship game, where he had a monster performance in a 37-20 victory. A franchise postseason record of 220 yards and four touchdowns. He was now officially on the scene.

Raheem Mostert entered the 2020 season as the 49ers feature back. Finally, at 28 years old, he was the guy. Unfortunately, a tumultuous season where he was placed on injured reserve twice only led to 8 appearances. In which he recorded 677 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns.

2021 wasn’t any nicer to the now 29-year-old. Mostert left the 49ers’ season opener against the Detroit Lions early due to a knee injury. He was later diagnosed with significant cartilage damage in his knee and was forced to miss the entire season—a brutal blow which saw the end of his spell in San Francisco.

Rise To Stardom In Miami

Mostert signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins for the 2022 season. Under head coach Mike McDaniel, the 30-year-old reached a career-high 891 rushing yards. He totaled 1093 yards from scrimmage with five touchdowns.

The veteran re-signed in Miami, inking a two-year extension with the Dolphins. Through 2023, Mostert is having the best season of his career: 828 rushing yards, 166 receiving yards, and an incredible 16 total touchdowns through 12 games. He leads the league in rushing touchdowns and is third in rushing yards. At 31, Mostert has become a star in an already-loaded Miami offense featuring Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Tua Tagovailoa.

Mostert is closing in on Miami Dolphins history. He is three rushing touchdowns away from breaking the franchise record for most in a season, set by Ricky Williams in 2002 with 16.

“I’m trying to help this team get to the playoffs and win a game,” Mostert said. “Break some record along the way. We’re getting close. I’ve got my eye on one record, and it’s going to mean a lot. Especially being from Florida, my first ever game with Grandpa Dennis was a Miami Dolphins game, and that was the first time I ever watched Ricky Williams run. I met Ricky Williams this past year. He’s a great guy with an unbelievable story. He’s a super-intelligent dude. I’m going to be able to, hopefully, fingers crossed, break his record for most rushing touchdowns in Dolphins history.”

Raheem Mostert has been one of the surprise revelations of the 2023 season. In a league where running backs over thirty are either serving as backups or are out of the league entirely, Mostert has become a star and has only improved with time.

He’s taken a challenging route full of setbacks and frustration to get here, but Raheem Mostert’s ascension proves that hard work and determination can work miracles.

Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images


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