1. Mike Rozier – Nebraska RB: The Huskers of 1983 were a machine on offense. Led by Quarterback Turner Gill, Wide Receiver Irving Fryar, and Running Back Mike Rozier the Cornhuskers had one of the better offenses of all time. Rozier ran for 2,148 yards and 29 Touchdowns while helping the Huskers to the season long number one ranking before they were upset by the Miami Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl.
Rozier grew up in Camden, New Jersey and he didn’t have the grades to get into Nebraska. To get his grades up, Rozier spent his freshman season at Coffeyville Junior College in Coffeyville, Kansas. After leading them to a perfect 9-0 record and rushing for well over 1,000 yards. Once arriving in Lincoln, Roger Craig was already entrenched as the starter, but Rozier ran for 943 yards while Craig ran for 1,060 yards. The following season, Rozier became the starter at I-back and he ran for 1,689
yards. With his huge senior season, Rozier finished with 4,780 rushing yards.
Instead of going to the NFL, Rozier chose to play in the new United States Football League in 1984 and 1985. Then he played for the Houston Oilers in 1986. For his NFL career, Rozier ran for 4,462 Yards.
2. Steve Young – BYU QB: Young was a super talented athlete that could have played numerous positions and schools running option offenses even recruited him to run their offenses. Young replaced Jim McMahon at Quarterback for the Cougars and he was spectacular in 1983 with 3,902 yards passing and 33 Touchdowns, plus 544 rushing yards. Like Rozier, Young also opted for the USFL and played there for 2 seasons before heading to the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was considered a bust there, and the San Francisco 49ers traded for him. With the 49ers, Young was a back up to Joe Montana for 4 seasons before taking over and becoming a star of his own.
Steve Young is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
3. Doug Flutie – Boston College QB: A four year starter at Boston College, Flutie was a guy that proved that size didn’t matter as far as playing Quarterback in college football. Flutie was listed as 5-9, 175, but I am pretty sure he was standing on something and had weights in his pockets.
Flutie threw for 1,652 yards as a freshman and improved that to 2,749 yards as a sophomore in 1982, but threw for more Interceptions than Touchdowns. During the 1983 season, Flutie put up similar numbers but decreased his Interceptions and that landed him as 3rd in the Heisman voting. Flutie went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1984 and then bounced around the Canadian Football League and the NFL for 21 seasons.
4. Turner Gill – Nebraska QB: Nebraska was obviously an option team with their I-Formation offense. But, you can’t run an effective option offense unless you have a great Quarterback for it. Turner Gill was the guy that made this offense go in spite of the fact that they had an awesome Offensive Line, Mike Rozier at I-Back and Irving Fryar.
Gill went to high school at Fort Worth Arlington Heights and was heavily recruited. He supposedly picked Nebraska because they would let him play baseball, too.
Gill played sparingly as a true freshman. As a sophomore, he split time with senior Mark Mauer. In 1982, Gill finally had the job all to himself and he responded with over 1,100 yards passing and almost 500 yards rushing. The Cornhuskers improved from 9-3 in 1981 when Gill was part time to
12-1 in 1982 and setting themselves up for a run at the national title.
1983 was an almost magical season for the Huskers running roughshod over just about everyone all year long. Gill threw for 1,516 yards and 14 Touchdowns most of which went to Irving Fryar. Gill also ran for 531 yards and 11 Touchdowns. Those aren’t huge numbers, but the Quarterback in this system was just the catalyst that made the offense work and Gill ran it beautifully.
Unfortunately the season ended with a 1 point loss in the Orange Bowl when coach Tom Osborne elected to go for the win instead of the tie and the 2 point conversion failed.
Turner Gill played a couple of seasons in the Canadian Football League and then returned to Nebraska to get into coaching. He has been the head coach at Buffalo, Kansas and now at Liberty.
5. Terry Hoage – Georgia DB: Hoage grew up in Huntsville, Texas and played football, basketball and ran track. There was just something about this guy. He was good in everything, but nobody offered him a scholarship except the Georgia Bulldogs. He rewarded Georgia by starting every season and making consensus All American during his junior and senior seasons. Georgia coach Vince Dooley called Hoage the best defensive player he ever coached. Hoage was just always in the right place at the right time.
Hoage was picked in the 3rd round by the New Orleans Saints and he played there a couple of seasons before moving to the Philadelphia Eagles. He played 13 seasons for 6 different teams.
After football, Hoage went to work for the big boys, corporate America, but he hated it. He finally wound up in California and he started a vineyard now called Terry Hoage Vineyards.
6. Napoleon McCallum – Navy RB: Attending Milford High School in Milford, Ohio and running for 1,600 yards as a senior should have gotten McCallum some attention. It did, but colleges wanted him as a Defensive Back. All colleges except for the Naval Academy.
At Navy, McCallum ran for 335 yards in 1981 as a freshman. During his sophomore season of 1982, he ran for 739 yards. 1983 was the year that people started paying attention to the 6-2, 220 McCallum when he ran for 1,587 yards. He was a consensus All American in 1983 and obviously finished 6th in the Heisman voting. The following season was a bad one for McCallum and he was injured early on, but he did get a medical redshirt. He returned in 1985 and ran for 1,327 yards. McCallum finished 7th in the Heisman race so more about him in the 1985 post.
7. Jeff Hostetler – West Virginia QB: Hostetler started a few games at Penn State in 1980, but Todd Blackledge beat him out for the starters job. Hostetler transferred to West Virginia. After sitting out the customary season, Hostetler became the West Virginia Quarterback in 1982. He threw for almost 1,800 yards his first season while leading the Mountaineers to a 9-3 season.
Hostetler was a senior in 1983 and he helped Mountaineer coach Don Nehlen’s team post a 9-3 record again. Hostetler threw for 2,247 yards and 14 Touchdowns. After he finished 7th in the Heisman, Hostetler was picked in the 3rd round by the New York Giants. With the Giants, Hostetler backed up
Phil Simms. Hostetler was with the Giants from 1984 until 1992. Simms was injured and Hostetler was able to finally get his chance and he lead the Giants to a Super Bowl victory over the Buffalo Bills.
The Giants did not re-sign Hostetler and the Oakland Raiders picked him up. He played with the Raiders for 4 seasons and then 2 more seasons with the Washington Redskins. Hostetler threw for 16,430 yards in 15 seasons in the NFL and won a Super Bowl. That’s a much better career than the one that Todd Blackledge had in the NFL.
8. Bill Fralic – Pittsburgh OL: Superior Offensive Tackle for the Pittsburgh Panthers back in their hey day. Not a lot of Offensive Linemen ever get any Heisman votes and for Fralic to finish with any votes at all is a testament to how good he was. Fralic was the 2nd pick in the entire NFL Draft in 1985 by the Atlanta Falcons where he played for 8 seasons before moving on to Detroit for his last season in the NFL. Fralic founded a successful insurance company in Atlanta under his own name which he still apparently runs.
9. Walter Lewis – Alabama QB: Bear Bryant’s last Quarterback, he was a part time player his first two seasons, but moved into the starting role in 1982. The Bear didn’t like throwing the ball all that much even when he had Joe Namath. In 1982, Lewis threw for 1,515 yards and he ran for 572 yards. As a senior, Bear had retired and passed away with Lewis passing for 1,991 yards while running for 338 yards. Lewis went undrafted and then played a little in the United State Football League and then Canada.
10. Boomer Esiason – Maryland QB: Other than Steve Young, Boomer was the best player on this list when all was said and done. Esiason was in his third year as a starter in 1983 and he threw for 2,322 yards and 15 Touchdowns. Esiason was a 2nd round NFL Draft pick by the Cincinnati Bengals where he played for 9 seasons before he moved on to the New York Jets where he played 3 more seasons. Esiason played 14 seasons in the NFL and threw for just short of 38,000 yards.
After football, Esiason became a commentator.