1. Pat Sullivan – Auburn
In 1971, Pat Sullivan took the Heisman with a 2,262 yard passing performance and 21 Touchdowns. He scored 2 more on the ground in leading the Auburn Tigers to a 9-2 record. Sullivan threw for 6,534 yards and 54 Touchdowns while running for 541 yards and 18 more Touchdowns. Sullivan was only 6 foot even and 190 pounds, but the Atlanta Falcons drafted him in the 2nd round of the 1972 NFL Draft and he played there a few forgettable seasons. Sullivan finished his career with the
Washington Redskins when he walked away after 6 seasons. He went into the insurance business and then returned to football as a Quarterback coach for Auburn. He was the head coach at TCU from 1992 until 1997. From there, he became the coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham until they dropped football after last season.
2. Ed Marinaro – Cornell RB
Marinaro had a remarkable college football career and I wrote about him here: http://collegefootballcrazy.com/ed-marinaro-ivy-league-terror/
I feel like Marinaro would have won the trophy if in another conference and same stats.
3. Greg Pruitt – Oklahoma RB
Pruitt was a first team All American and All Big 8. He rushed for an impressive 1,760 yards which was second in the nation to Ed Marinaro and his 1,881 yards rushing. Greg Pruitt was a junior in 1971 and this was his best season in college. After his senior season, Pruitt was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and he played 12 years in the NFL with the Browns and the Los Angeles Raiders. Pruitt rushed for over a thousand yards 3 years in a row in the NFL from 1975 to 1977.
4. Johnny Musso – Alabama RB
Johnny Musso was a hard running Halfback in the first Wishbone offense of Bear Bryant. Musso ran for 1,088 yards and 16 Touchdowns after running for 1,137 yards as a junior. If interested in more about fantastic Alabama Runningback Johnny Musso I blogged about him http://collegefootballcrazy.com/johnny-musso-alabama/
5. Lydell Mitchell – Penn State RB
Lydell Mitchell teamed with Franco Harris to give the Penn State Nittany Lions a potent rushing attack. Mitchell ran for 1,567 yards and an impressive 26 Touchdowns. Teammate Harris added 684 yards and 6 Touchdowns. Mitchell also hauled in 16 receptions and good for 3 more Touchdowns. Penn State went 11-1 in 1971 behind the running of Mitchell and Harris. Mitchell was drafted in the 2nd round by the Baltimore Colts where he had some success rushing for over a thousand yards the same 3 seasons as Greg Pruitt. Mitchell ran for 6,534 yards in 9 seasons in the NFL with the Colts, San Diego Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams. Impressively, Mitchell also caught 376 passes for 3,203 yards. Mitchell was born and raised in the great state of New Jersey. Teammate Franco Harris is in the NFL Hall of Fame after an outstanding career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have remained close friends and are business partners in Baltimore presently.
6. Jack Mildren – Oklahoma RB
The highly recruited Mildren was a 3 year starter for the Sooners and was their first ever Wishbone Quarterback. In 1971, the Sooners offense broke NCAA rushing records left and right and their Quarterback Mildren ran for 1,289 yards and 20 Touchdowns. The Sooners didn’t throw the ball much and Mildren had 889 yards passing and 10 Touchdowns. Mildren was a 2nd round pick by the Baltimore Colts, but they drafted him to play Defensive Back. He last 3 seasons in the NFL and had 3 Interceptions when he played for the Patriots in 1974, his last season in the league. He got into politics after football and he was the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma.
Mildren passed away in 2008 of stomach cancer.
7. Jerry Tagge – Nebraska QB
Tagge was a big, strong Quarterback for one of the greatest college football teams of all time, the 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers. He was a 3 year starter and in his senior season of 1971, Tagge threw for 2,178 yards and 17 Touchdowns. He ran for an additional 330 yards and 9 Touchdowns. Tagge was drafted in the 1st round of the draft by the Green Bay Packers which was a return home for him since he played high school football in Green Bay. He played 3 seasons for Green Bay before they fired their coach, Dan Devine, and hired Bart Starr. When they brought in Starr, he cut Tagge immediately. Tagge went to the WFL before they folded and then went to the Canadian Football League where he played for 3 years before an injury ended his career.
Today, Jerry Tagge lives in Omaha where he owns Tagge-Rutherford Financial Services.
8. Chuck Ealey – Toledo QB
Ealey was an amazing player that nobody has ever heard of unless they are a fan of documentaries because at least 2 have been made about Ealey. Ealey was 6-1, 195 coming out of high school and only recruited by the Mid American Conference schools. Ealey was a 3 year starter for Toledo and they never lost a game. Ealey finished his college career at 35-0 which is pretty incredible. He made
it very clear that he only wanted to play Quarterback in the NFL and teams passed on him in the NFL draft. It was not a good time in this country for black Quarterbacks. Since he was not drafted, Ealey signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League where he flourished. A collapsed lung ended Ealey’s CFL career, but he went out as he came in, a winner.
9. Walt Patulski – Notre Dame DE
From Syracuse, New York, Patulski was a giant for his time. Standing 6-6, and starring in football, basketball and track and field, everybody across the country wanted Patulski on their football team. Notre Dame played him at Defensive End where he started every game while playing for the Irish. In 1971, he was dominating and won the Lombardi plus making 1st team All American. Patulski was the 1st player taken in the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He led them in sacks as a rookie and played there for 4 years before being traded to the St Louis Cardinals. With the Cardinals, he only lasted one season before an injury cost him his career. Patulski was named the 27th biggest bust of all time which is totally inaccurate in my opinion.
10. Eric Allen – Michigan State RB
After putting up just minimal rushing yardage as a sophomore, Allen improved to 811 yards as a junior. From there, Allen exploded as a senior with 1,494 yards and 18 Touchdowns. Allen was All Big 10 and led the conference in rushing.
NFL scouts apparently did not approve of Allen’s size since he was about 5-9, 160. He was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 4th round but never signed and instead went to Canada to play for the Toronto Argonauts. He was nicknamed ‘the flea’ or the ‘Iron Flea’.