1. Walt Patulski – Notre Dame, Buffalo Bills DE: As a high school senior, Patulski had at least 60 scholarship offers. Playing at a Catholic High School in Syracuse, there was probably little doubt that the 6 foot 6 inch Patulski would be attending Notre Dame. Freshmen were not eligible in those years, but Patulski still started 3 years and at 6-6, 260 he was a dominating Defensive End from 1969 through 1971. In 1971, he made the All American team and he won the Lombardi Award. Patulski was a leader of the Irish defense and was the MVP his senior year. While Patulski was a starter for
the Fighting Irish, they compiled a 25-4-1 record and the defense was particularly stout against the run. Supposedly, Patulski ran a 4.9 40 and naturally he was picked with the first pick in the 1972 NFL Draft. With Buffalo, Patulski was as good as advertised for 4 seasons. After his fourth season, Patulski was traded to the St Louis Cardinals. He played there one season before a knee injury ended his career.
2. Sherman White – California, Cincinnati Bengals DE: A native of Portsmouth, New Hampshire White played one season at Laney Junior College before becoming a Cal Golden Bear. He arrived at Berkeley in 1969 and immediately became a starter and he made All Big 8 his junior and senior seasons.
In 1971, Sherman White was a consensus All American at California Berkeley and he was big and fast for his day at 6-5, 250. The Bengals were still a relatively new team having just started playing in 1968 and they needed the help. White played 4 seasons in Cincinnati and then was traded to the Buffalo Bills where he finished up his career after 8 more seasons.
3. Lionel Antoine – Southern Illinois, Chicago Bears OT: Born and raised in Biloxi, Mississippi and like so many others of this time he was forced to go North to play college football. He was recruited by all of the big boys from the North, but he chose Southern Illinois where he was a 3 year starter first at Tight End and then at Tackle. Antoine was 6-6, 260 with the athletic ability to play
Tight End and the size and strength to play Offensive Tackle.
With the Bears, he started at Tackle, but bad knees cost him playing time and ultimately it would cost him his career. He did wind up playing 6 seasons in the NFL.
4. Ahmad Rashad – Oregon, St Louis Cardinals WR: Rashad was Bobby Moore when he played at Oregon, but he changed his name. Moore played Running Back and some Wide Receiver at Oregon, but Rashad only played Wide Receiver in the NFL. At Oregon, Moore ran for 924 yards as a junior and then he ran for 1,211 yards as a senior. His Quarterback in 1971 at Oregon was Dan Fouts of San Diego Chargers fame.
After being picked by St Louis with the 4th pick, Rashad was completely a Wide Receiver. He played 2 seasons with the Cardinals before being traded to the Buffalo Bills. While with the Bills he injured his knee and sat out the 1975 season and was then picked up by the Seattle Seahawks. They traded him to the Minnesota Vikings where he finally became that star that he was expected to be. Over his career, Rashad caught 495 passes for 6,831 yards and 44 Touchdowns in 10 seasons.
After football, Rashad went into acting and broadcasting.
5. Riley Odoms – Houston, Denver Broncos TE: As a sophomore and a junior, Odoms did very little catching 14 total passes. As a senior, in 1971, Odoms just exploded onto the scene catching 45 passes while making the All American team. The Broncos liked the 6-4, 230 Odoms and took him with their first pick and it paid off for them.
While with the Broncos for 12 seasons, Odoms caught 396 passes good for 5,755 yards and 41 Touchdowns. He made several Pro Bowls and All Pro teams.
6. Greg Sampson – Stanford, Houston Oilers OT: The 6-6, 265 Sampson played Defensive End for the Cardinal back when they were the Indians. With the Oilers, Sampson struggled to get on the field as a Defensive End. But, the Oilers finally moved him to Offensive Tackle where he began to excel. The Oilers drafted Earl Campbell in the 1978 Draft and Sampson was one of the guys blocking for him in his incredible rookie season. A blood clot in his brain before the 1979 season nearly ended his life and it did cause him to retire from football. Sampson improved a great deal while he was playing on the offensive side of the ball and he could have been outstanding.
When he retired, Sampson bought an RV park on the Pacific Ocean in California.
7.Willie Buchanon – San Diego State, Green Bay Packers DB: Buchanon is a success story. Coming out of Oceanside High School, Buchanon went the Junior College route. From Mira Costa College, Buchanon signed with San Diego State. At Green Bay, Buchanon was an instant star and was the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Over his career, he made 3 Pro Bowls and he picked off 28 passes. He played for the Packers for 7 seasons and was inducted into their Hall of Fame and then he finished up his NFL career for his home town San Diego Chargers.
After football, Buchanon stayed near his home town and got into real estate. His son, Will, played for the USC Trojans on their national championship teams of 2003 and 2004 and he played a little in the NFL.
8. Royce Smith – Georgia, New Orleans Saints OG: The 6-3, 250 Smith was an All American at
Georgia, but he never quite had much of an impact in the NFL. He played just two seasons in New Orleans before playing 3 years in Atlanta. He wasn’t a regular starter at either franchise. Royce Smith passed away in 2004.
9. Jerome Barkum – Jackson State, New York Jets TE: Barkum was slightly undersized for a Tight End at 6-3, 220 but he was speedy enough to play some Wide Receiver also and he lasted 12 seasons in the NFL for the Jets. He made the Pro Bowl one season and caught 326 passes for 4,789 yards and 40 Touchdowns. Barkum is from Gulfport, Mississippi and was not recruited by any of the SEC schools back in those times.
10. Jeff Siemon – Stanford, Minnesota Vikings LB: Siemon was a brilliant and talented athlete from Bakersfield, California. He signed with Stanford and made consensus All American in 1971 on a good Indians team. After becoming a Viking, Siemon almost immediately became the starter at Middle Linebacker for them. For 11 seasons, Siemon was a fixture at that position for most of his career. He also made 4 Pro Bowls. After he retired from football, Siemon got into a ministry in the state of Minnesota. His daughter was a 4 year starter in basketball at Notre Dame.
11. Jerry Tagge – Nebraska, Green Bay Packers QB: The Quarterback of one of college football’s all time best teams and a participant in one of college football’s greatest games, Tagge was an All American Quarterback. Tagge grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin and signed with the Cornhuskers and he had a brilliant career including 2 national championships. Tagge was a bust at Green Bay and after 3 less than stellar seasons, he signed with the San Antonio Wings of the new but short lived
World Football League. After Tagge’s one season with the Wings in 1975, the WFL folded and then Tagge moved to Canada to play for the British Columbia Lions. Tagge was a star in Canada for a few seasons before a knee injury effectively ruined his career.
Today, Tagge owns Tagge-Rutherford Financial Services in Omaha, Nebraska.
12. Craig Clemons – Iowa, Chicago Bears DB: Clemons was a 1st team All American and All Big 10 at Iowa as a Safety. Considering the Hawkeyes were 1-10 in 1971, Clemons being All American and drafted in the 1st round were quite the accomplishment. Wayne Fontes recruited Clemons for Iowa from his native Piqua, Ohio and he was hosted on his visit by Iowa Running Back Dennis Green and both of those guys went on to become head coaches in the NFL. At Iowa, Clemons was a very hard hitting player which made him attractive to the Chicago Bears. With the Bears, Clemons had some success, but he only lasted 6 seasons. He did finish with 9 career Interceptions.
Clemons retired and is living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
13. Franco Harris – Penn State, Pittsburgh Steelers RB: The only Pro Football Hall of Fame member in this class and Harris was a key member of 4 Super Bowl Championship Pittsburgh Steelers teams. Harris actually had a modest college career at Penn State playing for Penn State, but he was in the same backfield with Lydell Mitchell. As 3 years a starter for the Nittany Lions, Harris ran for 2,002 yards and 24 Touchdowns. Mitchell was the speedier back and he was picked in the 2nd round of the 1972 Draft by the Baltimore Colts and also had a nice career. Harris was 6-2, 230 which was as big as some Linemen back in those years. After making Rookie of the Year his first season, Harris went on to an incredible 9 time Pro Bowl selection. Harris wound up with 12,120 career
rushing yards and 91 Touchdowns. Harris played 12 seasons with Pittsburgh and then another season with Seattle to end an amazing Hall of Fame career.
Harris and one time teammate Lydell Mitchell went into business together after football.
14. John Reaves – Florida, Philadelphia Eagles QB: The 6-3, 210 Reaves was an All American Quarterback for the Gators in 1971. He did play 11 years in the NFL for the Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Oilers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, plus 3 seasons with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League. In spite of that longevity, Reaves played sparingly. He was mostly a second team Quarterback. After football, Reaves got into coaching and coached under Steve Spurrier at Florida. He is the Father-in-Law of Lane Kiffin.
15. Clarence Ellis – Notre Dame, Atlanta Falcons DB: Grand Rapids, Michigan native Ellis was a consensus All American for the Fighting Irish in 1971. He was considered too small for major college football and was only offered a scholarship by Notre Dame and Western Michigan, supposedly.
In the NFL, Ellis only lasted 3 seasons but he was good while he lasted. He picked off 8 passes in 3 years and then he was out of football. Ellis became a systems analyst after football.
16. Herb Orvis – Colorado, Detroit Lions DT: The Big 8 Conference was incredible in 1971 with Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado finishing 1, 2 and 3 in the final polls. Orvis was a 2 time All Big 8 player and an All American in 1971. Orvis was 6-5, 250 which is tiny by today’s standards but it was big enough to play 10 years in the NFL in those years. Orvis was inducted into the college
football Hall of fame and was All Decade for the 1970’s and the Big 8.
17. Eldridge Small – Texas A%I, New York Giants DB: The Texas A%I Javelinas are now Texas A%M Kingsville, but back in these years the Javelinas were the small college football dynasty. Eldridge Small was just one of the talents that came out of this school after playing his high school football at Houston Wheatley High School. Small was a bust in the NFL only playing 3 seasons with the Giants. He was traded to the Cleveland Browns before his fourth season in the NFL, but was cut before the season began. Small went into coaching high school football in Houston after his professional career was over.
18. Thom Darden – Michigan, Cleveland Browns DB: Sandusky, Ohio produced this big time player for the Michigan Wolverines. Darden was a 1st team all American at Michigan and he also excelled at returning punts and kicks. At Cleveland, Darden was also a big star making All Pro three seasons and he had an amazing 45 career Interceptions including 10 in one season. Darden started at Safety for 9 years for the Browns before losing his job in his last season in the NFL.
After he retired, Darden was a sports agent and security provider and also was a business consultant.
19. Terry Beasley – Auburn, San Francisco 49ers WR: Auburn’s Quarterback Pat Sullivan won the Heisman in 1971 and naturally he had some good receivers. One of them was Beasley who made All American. As a three year starter at Auburn, Beasley caught 147 passes good for 2,624 yards and 29 Touchdowns. Beasley did not enjoy the same success in the NFL, but mostly because of injuries. He only played 3 seasons for the 49ers and caught 38 passes and had 3 Touchdown receptions. Beasley was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Beasley suffered through 19 concussions while playing the wonderful game of football. I obviously love the game, but it’s definitely brutal.
20. Michael Taylor – Michigan, New York Jets LB: Taylor was a 6-1, 230 consensus All American Linebacker at Michigan in 1971. Taylor was a local guy playing high school football at Detroit Martin Luther King High School. After a spectacular college career, Taylor was only in the NFL for two seasons. But, that was because he signed with the Detroit Wheels of the World Football League. The WFL was not around very long and then Taylor was out of football.
21. Mike Siani – Villanova, Oakland Raiders WR: Villanova is not exactly a football powerhouse, but Staten Island, New York’s Siani was an All American and then a 1st round pick by the Oakland Raiders. Siani had a decent NFL career with 6 seasons at Oakland and then 3 more for the Baltimore Colts. Siani caught 158 career passes for 2,618 yards and 17 Touchdowns.
After he retired from football, Siani got into coaching.
22. Tom Drougas – Oregon, Baltimore Colts OT: Drougas was the top Offensive Lineman for the Ducks with Dan Fouts at Quarterback and Bobby Moore at Running Back. He did make some All American teams and was picked by the Colts with the 22nd pick. The 6-4, 260 Drougas just started a few games in the NFL in between stops at Baltimore, Denver, Kansas City and Miami. He retired after 5 seasons in the NFL.
23. Jeff Kinney – Nebraska, Kansas City Chiefs RB: Kinney was a beast for the Cornhuskers at Tailback in 1971. McCook played high school football at McCook, Nebraska before deciding, as most Nebraska boys do, to stay home and star for the Huskers. Kinney was a power back at 6-2, 215 and he ran hard. Kinney ran for 1,136 yards in 1971 for an amazing team and he had 2,420 career yards while in Lincoln. Kinney was an All American in 1971 before being picked by the Chiefs. In the NFL, Kinney was not so amazing only running for 1,285 career yards and 5 Touchdowns over a 5 year career. If you can find it, do yourself a favor and watch the Game of the Century in 1971 between the Huskers and the Oklahoma Sooners. Kinney was one of many players that was enjoyable to watch.
24. Larry Jacobson – Nebraska, New York Giants DT: Jacobson was a consensus All American in 1971 and he won the Lombardi Award as the nation’s top lineman. The 6-6, 260 Jacobson was a
monster in college, but that didn’t translate to the NFL. He played 3 seasons for the Giants and then was out of football and he became a Stockbroker with Morgan Stanley.
25. Mike Kadish – Notre Dame, Miami Dolphins DT: Notre Dame had some size back before anyone else really did other than USC. Kadish was a 6-5, 270 Defensive Tackle that was an All American in 1971. With the Dolphins, he was a member of the NFL’s only undefeated team in 1972. Kadish played 9 seasons in the NFL with the Dolphins and with Buffalo. He was a regular starter for the Bills and a reliable player for them.
26. Bill Thomas – Boston College, Dallas Cowboys RB: Thomas was a big back at 6-2, 225, but the Boston College Running Back was a complete bust in the NFL. He played 3 seasons in the NFL for 3 different teams including the Cowboys, the Oilers and the Chiefs. After football, Thomas did a little coaching and he was a teacher for 27 years.