QB: Pat Sullivan – Auburn: The Heisman Trophy winner in 1971, Sullivan led the Tigers to a 26-7 record in 3 seasons while passing for 6,534 yards and 54 Touchdowns. His best season was actually in 1970, but he won the Heisman in 1971.
Sullivan was picked in the 2nd round by the Atlanta Falcons and he played there and for the Washington Redskins for 6 years total. But, he was never much of a factor in the NFL. After football, Sullivan got into coaching and was the head coach at TCU from 1992 until 1997 when he was fired
after posting a 1-10 record. In 2007, he was hired at Samford as their head coach and was there until the end of the 2014 season. He was also an assistant coach at Auburn and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
RB: Ed Marinaro – Cornell: I wrote about Marinaro here previously: Marinaro
Marinaro was definitely a terror to opponents. In 3 seasons at Cornell, Marinaro ran for 4,715 total yards which was then a record until Archie Griffin came along and broke it, but Griffin had 4 seasons on the varsity because of rule changes. Marinaro was picked in the 2nd round by the Minnesota Vikings. Marinaro played 6 seasons in the NFL for the Vikings, the New York Jets, and the Seattle Seahawks. After football, Marinaro got into acting and was a regular on Hill Street Blues for a while.
RB: Johnny Musso – Alabama: Musso was a tough Running Back: Musso
Birmingham, Alabama native Musso wanted to stay home and play for Bear Bryant at Alabama and he was a standout for them. The Crimson Tide had been very average in 1970, but the Bear put in that Wishbone Offense in 1971 and the Tide finished the regular season unbeaten much behind the tough running of Musso. Musso played in Canada after Alabama and then the World Football League
briefly and then he finished up with the Chicago Bears.
RB: Greg Pruitt – Oklahoma: The Sooners went to the Wishbone Offense shortly after Texas won the national titles with it. Texas invented it, but Oklahoma perfected it. Pruitt was the first of many great Wishbone Halfbacks for the Sooners. At Oklahoma in 3 seasons, Pruitt ran for over 3,000 yards and made All Big 8 and All American in 1971 and 1972. Pruitt wasn’t drafted by the NFL until the 2nd round when the Cleveland Browns picked him.
E: Terry Beasley – Auburn: Growing up in nearby Montgomery, Alabama Beasley decided to play college football for the Auburn Tigers. He was 1971’s Heisman winner Pat Sullivan’s favorite target and he caught 141 passes for 2,507 yards and 29 Touchdowns. That doesn’t seem like much in today’s game, but it was a lot for the 1969 through 1971 seasons. Beasley was picked in the 1st round by the San Francisco 49ers and he played there 4 seasons before injuries forced him out of football.
E: Johnny Rodgers – Nebraska: Rodgers played Wide Receiver, Running Back, and returned punts and kicks for the Huskers. In his 3 seasons at Nebraska, Rodgers had 5,586 all purpose yardage which was an NCAA record. He was a game breaker in all phases of the game. Rodgers was huge in 1971 and he went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1972. After college, Rodgers played mostly in
Canada in the CFL, but he finished up in San Diego with the Chargers.
OL: Tom Brahaney – Oklahoma: The All American Center for the 1971 season. The Big 8 truly dominated the college football scene in the 1971 season with Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado finishing 1,2 and 3 in the final Polls. Brahaney going up against Rich Glover in the Game of the Century was a battle for the ages. Glover finished with 22 tackles in that game, but he didn’t totally control Brahaney as that stat appears that he did. Brahaney was only 6-2, 245, but he was a tough and relentless blocker. The Midland, Texas product was picked in the 5th round by the St Louis Cardinals and he played there for 9 seasons. After football, Brahaney returned to Midland and got into the oil and gas business.
OL: Dave Joyner – Penn State: Joyner was a 2 sport All American at Penn State in both football and wrestling. He finished 2nd in the NCAA Wrestling Championships and he was a starting Offensive Tackle for 3 seasons from 1969 to 1971. His final season earned All American team standings. Joyner became an Orthopedic Surgeon for a number of years and focusing his career on sports medicine. He was elected to the Penn State Board of Trustees in 2000 and then was named acting Athletic Director in 2011. He retired in 2014.
OL: Reggie McKenzie – Michigan: A native of Detroit, McKenzie decided to stay near home and become a Wolverine. McKenzie was a 3 year starter at Offensive Guard for Michigan and was a consensus All American in 1971. He was picked in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills where he blocked for the immortal OJ Simpson. He and Simpson were close and McKenzie was the leader of the Offensive Line group called the Electric Company. McKenzie played 11 seasons in Buffalo and then 2 more in Seattle with the Seahawks. In 13 years of the brutal life in the NFL, McKenzie started every game but 2. After football, McKenzie started the Reggie McKenzie
Industrial Materials Company. He also gives back to the Detroit community with the Reggie McKenzie Foundation that helps local kids with athletics and academics.
OL: Jerry Sisemore – Texas: Sisemore was a big Offensive Tackle from the Panhandle of Texas that started 3 seasons for Texas. He was a sophomore starter on the 1970 team that was named National Champions in one Poll and was at the end of a 30 game winning streak before they lost to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Sisemore was a consensus All American in both 1971 and 1972 and then he was drafted with the 3rd pick of the 1st round by the Philadelphia Eagles. Sisemore was a fixture in the Offensive Line for the Eagles playing there for 12 seasons and on one Super Bowl team.
OL: Royce Smith – Georgia: Growing up in the Savannah, Georgia area, Smith signed with the Georgia Bulldogs where he played Offensive Guard. Nobody else really wanted him out of high school because he was about 190 pounds. He worked hard and got up to about 6-3, 250 and he reportedly ran a 4.8 40 and benched 430 pounds. Smith was taken with the 8th pick of the NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. He was with the Saints for 2 years and then with the Atlanta Falcons for 3 more seasons. He played only 5 seasons in the NFL and he was mostly a reserve.
Smith passed away unexpectedly in 2004 at the age of 54.
DL: Willie Harper – Nebraska: This Cornhusker team was the total package. On defense they led the nation in total defense and they were 2nd in rushing and scoring defense. Harper played an Outside Linebacker/Defensive End position and used great speed and quickness to totally crush
opponents. Harper was 6-2, 215 and he was all over the field making play after play. Harper was picked in the 2nd round by the San Francisco 49ers and he had a really nice career in the NFL. He played 11 seasons with the 49ers and then signed with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League. He played there a season and then finished up with the Houston Texans also of the USFL. Harper’s son, Josh, played Wide Receiver for Fresno State.
DL: Larry Jacobson – Nebraska: The 6-6, 250 Jacobson was a high school football and basketball player in Sioux Falls. South Dakota before coming to Lincoln, Nebraska. Jacobson won the Outland Trophy in 1971, the first of 8 winners at Nebraska. Jacobson recorded 73 tackles and 12 tackles for loss as a senior. Jacobson was a 1st round pick of the New York Giants where he played for only 3 seasons before injuries cut his career short. After leaving football, Jacobson became a stockbroker.
DL: Mel Long – Toledo: Long is a very interesting story. He was drafted out of high school by the military and served in Vietnam where he won the Bronze Star and the Navy Cross. Upon returning home, Long went to Toledo to play football. He was never large at 6-1, 230, but obviously relied on quickness. Toledo was 35-0 in 3 seasons while Long was on the team with 3 wins in the Tangerine Bowl at the end of each season. Long was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 11th round of the 1972 Draft and he played in the NFL for 3 seasons. Long never even wanted to play college football, but was talked into it and he became a star.
DL: Walt Patulski – Notre Dame: At Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, New York Patulski was a Fullback and a standout basketball player. He was 6-6 and recruited by everybody before he
picked Notre Dame. For the Fighting Irish, Patulski was a 3 year starter at Defensive End and in 1971 he was a consensus All American as well as the Lombardi Award winner. Since Patulski was 6-6, 260 and athletic, he was the very first pick in the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. With the Bills, Patulski played for 5 seasons before he was traded to the St Louis Cardinals where he played his final years in the NFL. Patulski had some success, but because he was not a long term starter for the Bills he was considered a Draft bust by many.
DL: Sherman White – California: White was picked right after Patulski in the NFL Draft at #2 taken by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played for them for the Bengals for 4 seasons before being traded to the Buffalo Bills where he played another 8 seasons. White was 6-5, 250 and originally from New Hampshire before signing with the California Golden Bears.
LB: Jeff Siemon – Stanford: Siemon was born in Minnesota but then grew up in Bakersfield, California. From there, he signed with Stanford where he helped lead the Cardinal to 2 Rose Bowls. He was the defensive version of Stanford Quarterback Jim Plunkett and the Cardinal were good in those years. The Minnesota Vikings picked Siemon in the 1st round in the 1972 NFL Draft and he played there for 11 seasons going to 3 Super Bowls and making 4 Pro Bowls.
After football, Siemon went to Law School and he worked for a ministry.
LB: Mike Taylor – Michigan: Taylor grew up in Detroit and like Reggie McKenzie he decided to stay near home to play for the Michigan Wolverines. Taylor signed with Michigan head coach Bump Elliott, but he played three seasons for Bo Schembechler. As a senior in 1971, Taylor was a consensus All American. Then, he was picked by the New York Jets with the 20th pick of the 1972 first round. Taylor only played 2 seasons with the Jets before signing with the Detroit Wheels of the World Football League.
DB: Tommy Casanova – LSU: Crawley, Louisiana native Casanova was a 3 time All American at LSU. While at Baton Rouge, Casanova played Running Back, Defensive Back and was a special teams demon. But, where he was best was at Safety and that’s where he made All American.
Casanova was picked in the 2nd round by the Cincinnati Bengals and he played there for 6 seasons and making the Pro Bowl 3 times. After football, Casanova became an Ophthalmologist back in Crowley, Louisiana. He also spent 4 years as a Louisiana state Senator.
DB: Clarence Ellis – Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish stole Ellis right from under the noses of rivals Michigan and Michigan State. The Grand Rapids product was a multi year starter for Notre Dame and he was a member of the Irish team that went to it’s first bowl game in years when they took on Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Ellis was drafted in the 1st round by Atlanta Falcons where he played for 3 seasons.
DB: Ernie Jackson – Duke: Jackson was a Cornerback from Hopkins, South Carolina. Consensus All Americans in football were rare at Duke. The New Orleans Saints picked him in the 7th round of the 1972 NFL Draft and he played in the NFL for 8 seasons for the Saints, the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions.
DB: Bobby Majors – Tennessee: The younger brother of former Tennessee player and head coach Johnny Majors. Bobby Majors picked off 10 passes in 1970 making All SEC and then he made All SEC and All American in 1971. Majors also returned punts and kicks.
Majors was picked in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles but he played the year in Cleveland before signing with the Memphis franchise of the World Football League.