NCAA FB

CFN: Top 100 - No. 2 Herschel Walker

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Some were amazing players, some revolutionized their positions, some were legends, and some we just think were truly great. Yes, there was a bias towards players who played in the bigger conferences and against the biggest teams, but we also give a nod to the best who weren't in the spotlight as well. You can consider this the list of the college football careers as we give high marks to the legends.

How do you possibly pick an offensive lineman over a quarterback? It's tough, but our friends at the CollegeFootballNews.com we tried to make the call in regards to how good of a player they were without necessarily giving more credit to one position over another. Think of it this way, if you could take one running back, who would you take? You couldn't go wrong with Walker, Dorsett, Williams, Simpson, Dayne or about 20 other backs. Now if you had to pick one center, who would you go with? There are very few who stand out.

No. 2: Herschel Walker, RB - 1980-1982

The University of Georgia's football program was doing fine under head coach Vince Dooley as he won three SEC titles, but things were beginning to slide a little. After winning the 1976 SEC championship, Dooley went a decent, but unspectacular 20-13-1 over the following three years. But all was about to change with one recruit from Wrightsville, Georgia. Herschel Walker took the program on his back and pushed it to the head of the college football pack with a three season record of 33-3 as Georgia won a national title, played in another national title game and won three straight SEC titles. Walker was more than just a running back, he was Superman. It's hard to possibly describe just what a physical presence Walker was with an NFL body at only 18 years old. According to former Dallas Cowboy player personnel Gil Brandt, "Walker and Earl Campbell were the only two players who could've gone directly into the NFL from high school." After rushing for 6,317 yards and 86 touchdowns in high-school, Walker made an instant impact in his first collegiate game rushing for 84 yards and two scores in a 16-15 win over in Knoxville. Carrying the offense, Walker led the Bulldogs to a magical season and the national championship beating in the Sugar Bowl gaining 150 of the team's 173 yards and scoring two touchdowns in the 17-10 victory. To add even more to the legend of his freshman year, Walker played in the Sugar Bowl with a badly separated shoulder. Walker didn't slow down running for over 100 yards in 28 of his final 32 regular season games. In the four games he was held under 100 yards, one was in a blowout against TCU in 1980 when he carried the ball only nine times, one was a 44-yard day in a 28-21 win over Ole Miss in 1980. One was a 77-yard performance against in a 31-21 win in 1980 and the last was 20-yard game against in 1982 trying to play with a broken thumb. That's it. Every other game Walker topped the century mark. The rushing record: College football fans can look back and enjoy and Ron Dayne chase and capture of the all-time NCAA rushing record, but had Walker stayed for his senior season the Great Dayne and Mr. Dreadlocks would've been running for second place. Dayne holds the record with 6,397 yards for his career. Walker ran for 5,259 in his three years averaging 1,753 yards per season and had Walker had an average year, for him, in his senior season, he would've set the bar at over 7,000 yards. Walker won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 with 1,752 yards and 17 touchdowns, but his best season was 1981 running for 1,891 yards and 20 scores running for over 100 yards in every game and over 200 yards two of them. If hadn't run for over 2,000 yards, Walker would've won the Heisman as a sophomore. WBy the time Walker left Georgia, he held 11 NCAA records, 16 SEC records and 41 Georgia records. Most impressive were his 5,749 all-purpose yards and his four, 200-yard rushing games as a freshman. The team: On it's way to the three SEC titles, Georgia only lost one regular season game in Walker's career losing to eventual national champion 13-3. The two other losses were just as meaningful. needed a 33-yard touchdown pass from Dan Marino to John Brown with :35 to play to win the 1982 Sugar Bowl 24-20 while upset the Bulldogs 27-23 in the 1983 Sugar Bowl to win the national title. To put into perspective just how good Georgia was, it took two national champions and a perfect throw from the NFL's greatest passer to prevent Georgia from going unbeaten three straight seasons with Walker. While Walker was certainly the star and marquee player on those Georgia teams, the Bulldogs weren't bad when he left going 10-1-1 in 1983 ruining Texas' national title hopes by winning the 1984 Cotton Bowl. The one loss was a 13-7 squeaker to while the other blemish was a 16-16 tie with . It's not going out on a limb to suggest Georgia would've won those two games with Walker and would've won their fourth straight SEC title and played in their third national title game in four years. In the national title year, Walker's outstanding performance in a classic game was overshadowed by a legendary play. Against Florida, Walker riddled the Gators 238 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries, but nobody seems to remember his outstanding performance as it was a pass play that the college football world will remember. With 1:35 to play and Georgia down 21-20 and backed up on its own seven-yard line, the Bulldogs ran two plays to no avail. On third and ten with 1:04 to play and still on the seven yard-line, QB Buck Belue hit wide receiver Lindsay Scott on a slat pattern which he took for 93 yards and the improbable 26-20 Bulldog win. The pro: Despite never living up to the high level he played at in college, Walker was one of professional football's top running backs gaining more yards than anyone in pro football history counting the NFL and USFL yards and is the only play to have a 90+ yard play running, receiving and on a kick return in the same season. He left after his junior season to play for the New Jersey Generals of the USFL where he gained 1,812 yards and 17 touchdowns in 1983, 1,339 yards and 16 scores in 1984 and a whopping 2,411 yards and 21 touchdowns in 1985. After the USFL folded, he went to the Dallas Cowboys as the only real star on a team woefully devoid of talent leading the NFL in rushing in 1988. Unfortunately, Walker may be most famous for being traded to for five players and six draft picks in 1989 giving Dallas the nucleus to three Super Bowl teams. He finished his career with Philadelphia, the New York Giants and Dallas ending with 8,225 yards and 61 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 512 passes for 4,859 yards and 21 scores. Honors: College Football Hall of Fame - 1999, Heisman Trophy - 1982, 2nd in Heisman Trophy - 1981, 3rd in Heisman Trophy - 1980, All-American - 1980-1982, All-SEC - 1980-1982.

  • Tagged: Clemson, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Penn State, Bowling Green, Arizona, Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, Texas Tech

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