QB: Terry Hanratty – Notre Dame: Hanratty was one of those Western Pennsylvania Quarterbacks hailing from Butler, Pa. Since freshmen were not eligible to play on the varsity during these years, Hanratty was only a 3 year starter for the Irish. But, he helped the Irish win the national championship in the 1966 season as a sophomore. The Irish had an 8-2 record in 1967 in Hanratty’s junior season and they finished 7-2-1 in 1968 when he was a senior. Hanratty threw for 1,466 yards and 10 Touchdowns during his senior campaign and he ran for another 279 yards and 4 more
Touchdowns. Not huge numbers, I realize, but those were different times. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Hanratty with their 2nd pick in the 1969 NFL Draft and he did start a few games before losing his job to Hall of Fame Quarterback Terry Bradshaw. He was a back up for the Steelers for 7 seasons and achieved 2 Super Bowl rings before finishing his career in Tampa Bay. After he retired, Hanratty worked as a stockbroker.
Hanratty had children later in life and his son, Conor, was a starting Offensive Guard for the Fighting Irish in 2013 and 2014.
RB: Chris Gilbert – Texas: The first ever college football player to rush for over 1,000 yards 3 times was Christ Gilbert of Texas. He was a halfback in the very first Wishbone Offense in 1968 and he ran for 1,132 yards and 13 Touchdowns. Gilbert was All SWC for all 3 of his seasons as a varsity player at Texas and made consensus All American his final seasons. Finishing up with 3,231 he was the SWC and Texas all time leading rusher at that time.
He was drafted by the New York Jets in the 5th round, but he decided to go on with the rest of his life and entered the business world.
RB: Leroy Keyes – Purdue: Click on link if you are wanting to read more in depth article about Keyes A two time All American in 1967 and 1968, Keyes was one of the best football players of his time period. He grew up in Newport News, Virginia but wound up in the Big 10 because of racism in the South and that was good news for the Boilermakers. In 1968, Keyes ran for 1,003 yards and 14 Touchdowns. Pretty modest totals, but the thing that was great about Keyes was his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He ran for 2,090 yards on the ground, but he also caught 80 passes for
1,204 yards and 7 Touchdowns. Keyes also played Cornerback on defense. Keyes was drafted with the 3rd pick of the 1st round by the Philadelphia Eagles and he played there for 4 seasons. He started off on offense but then moved to defense and started at Safety. He finished his career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
RB: OJ Simpson – USC: A legend on the field, Simpson was one of the all time greats. He was big, fast and fluid and the Heisman winner in 1968. When he was drafted with the very first pick in the 1969 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, Simpson was an instant star in the Pros as well.
Simpson was inducted into the Hall of Fame and went into acting and broadcasting. His later issues are well documented and he is currently incarcerated.
TE: Ted Kwalik – Penn State: The Nittany Lions finished 11-0 in 1968 and they had a number of stars on the team and Kwalik was one of the best. The 6-4, 225 Kwalik was a 3 year starter at Tight End for Penn State and he caught 31 passes as a senior. Over his 3 career career, Kwalik caught 86
passes for 1,343 yards and 10 Touchdowns.
Kwalik was picked with the 7th pick of the 1st round by the San Francisco 49ers. He had a nice career with the 49ers making the Pro Bowl 3 years in a row. He was with the 49ers for 6 years and then finished up with the Oakland Raiders. Kwalik caught 168 passes for 2,570 yards and 23 Touchdowns.
WR: Jerry Levias – SMU: Levias was the first black man offered a scholarship at a SWC school back in the 1960’s. There was a walk-on at Baylor that actually played before Levias, but Jerry was
the first black scholarship owner. Integrating the SWC was not an easy task for Levias and it took a heavy toll on him. In spite of that, Jerry Levias was a burner, and although he was small, he was a big time player. SMU coach Hayden Fry loved to throw the ball around and Levias caught 80 passes in 1967 for 1,131 yards and 8 Touchdowns. The 5-9, 175 Levias was picked by the Houston Oilers and he was a huge success. He played their 2 seasons and then 4 seasons with the San Diego Chargers. Levias was good, but he never really enjoyed the NFL according to sources and he got out as quickly as he could and became a successful businessman.
OL: Jim Barnes – Arkansas: A polio victim in the 3rd grade, Barnes was bed ridden for months as a child. But, he overcame and the 6-4, 235 consensus All American Offensive Guard said the disease gave him motive to work harder. The 1968 Razorbacks were a great team losing only to Texas and finishing the season at 10-1 with an Orange Bowl win over Georgia. Barnes blocked for outstanding Quarterback Bill Montgomery and Running Back Bill Burnett. Despite the Minnesota Vikings picking Jim Barnes in the 5th round of the 1969 NFL Draft, he never played in the NFL.
OL: John Didion – Oregon State: Didion was the starting Center for the famous Giant Killers of Oregon State in 1967. I wrote about their star Running Back and the Giant Killers here: OSU 1967
The 6-4, 255 Didion was a road grader in his day and was considered one of the top Centers in the country in 1968. The Washington Redskins picked Didion with their 7th pick in 1969 and he played for the fabled Vince Lombardi for one season before the legend passed away. After anther season in Washington, Didion was traded to the New Orleans Saints where he finished up his career. After football, Didion got into law enforcement and was a sheriff for quite a few years in the state of Washington. Didion passed away in 2013 from a heart attack.
OL: Dave Foley – Ohio State: The famous Super Sophomores of Ohio State won the national
championship in 1968, but Foley was a senior and not part of that outstanding recruiting class. Foley was a 3 year starter in Columbus for legendary coach Woody Hayes. His first two seasons he started at Right Tackle, but he moved over to the Left Tackle spot as a senior in 1968 and made consensus All American. Foley proved his right to be on this list by his outstanding NFL career. He was drafted by the New York Jets with the 26th pick of the 1st round and played their 2 seasons before being traded to the Buffalo Bills where he blocked for OJ Simpson. He made the Pro Bowl in 1973 and he played 9 seasons at that level.
OL: George Kunz – Notre Dame: One of the nation’s all time best Offensive Tackles. He was a 2 year starter at Notre Dame at Right Tackle, but was also a member of the 1966 national championship team and one of Terry Hanratty’s best blockers. After a brilliant career in South Bend, Kunz was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with their 1sst pick which was the 2nd of the first round. Kunz was a multiple year All Pro with the Falcons and the Baltimore Colts.
OL: Mike Montler – Colorado: Didion was not the only Center on this team. Montler was another
top Center and at 6-5, 255, Montler was picked by the Boston Patriots in the 2nd round. Montler was a star at Colorado and also in the NFL where he played 10 seasons. Like Dave Foley, Montler was also sent to Buffalo and he blocked for OJ Simpson also as the Center.
OL: Charles Rosenfelder – Tennessee: The Humbolt, Tennessee native played Guard for the Volunteers. He was an All SEC at Guard in 1967 and 1968 as well as a consensus All American in 1968. Rosenfelder was a 3 year starter at Tennessee, but he was not drafted by the NFL.
DL: Joe Greene – North Texas: One of the best Defensive Tackles of all time and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Due to racism in the South, Greene had to play at North Texas if he wanted to stay in the state of Texas. The Pittsburgh Steelers picked him with their top pick at number 4 of the first round. While in Pittsburgh, Greene helped the Steelers to 4 Super Bowl Championships. Greene’s nickname was Mean Joe Greene and North Texas was the Eagles until they later changed their name to the Mean Green obviously in honor of this once in a lifetime player.
DL: Ted Hendricks – Miami: Hendricks was a 2 year consensus All American at Miami in the years before they were the U. The 6-7, 220 Hendricks was a beast at Defensive End in spite of being on the skinny side for his height. He finished 5th in the 1968 Heisman race which was incredible for a
Defensive End. While playing for the Hurricanes, Hendricks recorded an amazing 327 tackles. In one game against bitter rival Florida, Hendricks sacked the Quarterback 4 times.
As great as he was, Hendricks was only picked in the 2nd round by the Baltimore Colts and they promptly made a Linebacker out of him. He may have raised his game to another level after switching positions. After 5 seasons with the Colts, they traded him to the Green Bay Packers where he played for only one year before the Oakland Raiders got him. With Oakland, Hendricks became a legend. When people think of the old time Oakland Raiders they think of Ted Hendricks, John Matuszak and Jack Tatum. Hendricks played on 4 Super Bowl champion teams in the NFL and earned way too many honors to be listed here. The current best Linebacker in college football could win the Hendricks Award, obviously named after this legend.
Hendricks played 15 years in the NFL and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
DL: Bill Stanfill – Georgia: Cairo, Georgia produced this talented Defensive End. In high school, Stanfill helped his basketball team win a state championship and he threw the shot and discus. Stanfill played Defensive Tackle at Georgia and won the Outland Trophy in 1968. He was a three year starter at Georgia and was drafted in the 1st round by the Miami Dolphins. He was a member of the undefeated team of 1972 and a multiple year All Pro. It’s too bad that the NFL did not keep
defensive stats in those years because Stanfill was a great Defensive End for them. After football, Stanfill got into real estate.
DL: Chuck Kyle – Purdue: Kyle grew up in Fort Thomas, Kentucky and signed with Purdue. An undersized Nose Guard, Kyle was 6-2, 225 in his prime. But, he was good enough to earn All Big 10 honors for all 3 years he started at Nose Guard. The Purdue Boilermakers were a good team back in those years with Dolphin Quarterback legend Bob Griese and then Mike Phipps. Plus, Leroy Keyes and other good players. They finished 9-2 in 1966, 8-2 in 1967 and 8-2 in 1968.
DL: Ed White – California: The Indio, California native decided on Cal for his college career and the 6-1, 270 rewarded them with an All American career. The Minnesota Vikings drafted White in the 2nd round and he was converted to Offensive Guard. The Vikings beat the Buffalo Bills in being a team to lose 4 Super Bowls and White was a member of all of those teams. Later, he was traded to San Diego where he played a number of years. He was All Pro 4 times and a tough Offensive Guard.
After football, White got into coaching.
DL: John Zook – Kansas: The Jayhawks are a basketball school, but they have had a few good teams over the years and 1968 was one of those. They won the Big 8 title and even though they lost their Orange Bowl game to Penn State it was a great season. Zook was one of their star players and a tough Defensive End. A lot of NFL teams passed on John Zook and he was taken in the 4th round by the Los Angeles Rams and then he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Zook played 11 years in the NFL and made the Pro Bowl. He played 7 seasons for the Falcons and then finished his career with the St Louis Cardinals.
LB: Steve Kiner – Tennessee: Tampa, Florida’s Kiner was a Quarterback in high school, but he also played Linebacker. Signing with Tennessee, the Vols developed him into a Linebacker. He was All
SEC as a sophomore in 1967. As a junior in 1968, Kiner also made All SEC and this time he was recognized as an All American. These were good years for the Tennessee Volunteers and they were annually competing with Alabama for the best team in the SEC honors. Kiner was one of their leaders and he would make All American again in 1969 so more on him in another post.
LB: Dennis Onkotz – Penn State: Onkotz was a tremendous talent and possibly the beginning of the great Linebackers that made Penn State known as Linebacker U. The Northampton, Pennsylvania product was a 3 year starter for the Nittany Lions and was a consensus All American in 1968 and 1969. There will be more on Onkotz in the 1969 version of this list. Onkotz was so fast that he was the punt return man for Penn State as well as a total beast at Linebacker. He also picked off 11 passes during his career at Penn State and returned 3 of them for Touchdowns, another example of his excellent athletic ability.
Penn State posted a very impressive 30-2-1 record during his playing career there. The New York Jets drafted Onkotz in the 3rd round of the 1970 draft, but Onkotz only played 9 games before a severe injury ended his playing career. He became a financial planner after football.
DB: Jake Scott – Georgia: Growing up in Athens, Scott moved away and played high school football in Arlington, Virginia. When picking a college to play football, it was an easy decision for Jake Scott. He simply went back home and played for the Georgia Bulldogs. In two years playing for the Bulldogs at Safety, Scott was a ball hawk picking off 16 passes which earned him recognition and consensus All American as a senior in 1968.
Scott is known as a recluse and correct information is difficult to obtain, but he played one year in Canada with the British Columbia Lions. He was listed on their roster for that season and it had to do with the Vietnam War and the draft that was going on in that period. The Miami Dolphins did pick him in the NFL Draft the following year and Scott returned to the states and played for the Dolphins.
He is yet another All American football player in this time period that helped the Dolphins go undefeated in 1972. Scott was actually the MVP of the Super Bowl win the Dolphins ended their unbeaten season with a win over the Washington Redskins. He was a 5 time Pro Bowler with the
Dolphins. Scott played 9 seasons in the NFL, 6 with Miami and his last 3 with Washington.
Supposedly, Scott lives in Hawaii now and is an investor.
DB: Roger Wehrli – Missouri: Cornerback Wehrli had 7 Interceptions during his senior season in 1968 and he was easily a consensus All American. He was twice All Big 8 and the Defensive Player of the Year his senior season. The nearby St Louis Cardinals drafted Wehrli with their 1st pick in the 1969 Draft. With the Cardinals, he was an instant impact and was Rookie of the Year. Wehrli made the Pro Bowl 7 times and was a member of the All 1970’s Decade team.
In 2007, Roger Wehrli was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was clearly one of the game’s all time greats.
DB: Al Worley – Washington: Worley picked off an amazing 14 passes in 1968 in only 10 games. His record stood up until this past season when Louisville’s Gerod Holliman tied it an amazing 46 years later. Holliman also had 13 games to accomplish what Worley did in 10.