Super stars like Hugh Green from the backwoods of Mississippi tend to play in the SEC now days. Racism is still alive and well, but SEC schools love to win and they can’t do it without talents like Green.
The Pittsburgh Panthers won the national title in 1976 coached by Johnny Majors and led by Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett. Both Majors and Dorsett were gone after that season with Majors taking the Tennessee job back where he played football years earlier. Dorsett was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and quickly led them to the Super Bowl.
The Panthers hired Jackie Sherrill to replace Majors. Say whatever you want about Sherrill, but the man could recruit and with his first class he brought in Hugh Green from Mississippi. The 6-2, 225 North Natchez High School in Mississippi brought an insane level of quickness to the Defensive End position.
Green was one of many great players brought into Pittsburgh back in those years.
Coming in as a true freshman, the talented Green moved right into the starting lineup. As a freshman in 1977, Hugh Green totaled 92 tackles with 12 Quarterback sacks to earn some All American honors.
Things would only get better for Hugh Green and in 1978 he was named 1st team All American when he sacked the Quarterback 13 times and he produced 12 tackles for loss. During the 1979 and 1980 seasons, Green earned 1st team All American again while leading his teaming Quarterback sacks. Green finished with 53 Quarterback sacks in 4 seasons. He also totaled 460 tackles as a starter at Pittsburgh with 52 tackles for loss.
College football hasn’t seen a lot of defensive players in the same league as Hugh Green. He was phenomenal making plays all over the field
George Rogers won the Heisman Trophy in 1980, but Pittsburgh’s Defensive End Hugh Green finished second. Green was all over the field wrecking havoc and causing Offensive Coordinator’s to scheme around him on game day.
The 1980 Pittsburgh Panthers have been called maybe the best team of fall time even though they finished with one loss and a record of 11-1. Their one loss came in Tallahassee to Bobby Bowden and the Florida State Seminoles. But, Bobby Bowden said for years that the 1980 Pittsburgh Panthers were the best team he had ever seen.
Besides super star Hugh Green, a 3 time consensus All American and a 2nd team All American as a true freshman, they had a smorgasbord of talent.
Hugh Green was a senior on the 1980 team and he was picked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 7th selection of the 1st round.
But, that 1980 team had 7 guys go in the first round of future NFL Drafts. Hall of Fame member Quarterback Dan Marino was a member of the famed Quarterback Draft of 1983. He never won a Super Bowl, but the Miami Dolphins got a steal with Marino being taken with the 27th pick of that 1983 draft.
Mark May was also a senior on the 1980 team and he was just dominating proven by his winning of the 1980 Outland Trophy. As an Offensive Lineman, May was picked with the 20th selection of the 1st round in 1981 by the Washington Redskins where he was a member of an incredible Offensive
Line and played in 3 Super Bowls. Most college football fans will know Mark May because of his days arguing with Lou Holtz on football Saturday on ESPN.
Randy McMillan was taken with the 12th selection of the 1st round also in the 1981 draft. Pittsburgh had 3 guys taken in that 1981 draft with Linebacker Ricky Jackson being picked in the 2nd round.
Pro Football Hall of Fame member Russ Grimm was taken in the 3rd round by the Washington Redskins where he once again teamed up with Mark May.
Defensive Tackle Greg Meisner was also taken in the 3rd round, plus Safety Carlton Williamson. Defensive Tackle Bill Neill, Tight End Benji Pryor, Defensive Back Lynn Thomas and Defensive Tackle Jerry Boyarski were all taken in the 5th round.
You know you have a talented team when your backup Quarterback is picked in the NFL Draft, and the Pittsburgh Steelers took Rick Trocano with their 11th round pick.
Offensive Lineman Jimbo Covert and Defensive Back Tim Lewis were 1st round picks in 1983. Defensive Tackle Bill Maas was another 1st round pick in 1984.
29 players on the Pitt Panthers 1980 roster were drafted and played in the NFL. But, 7 1st round picks on that team was the most impressive statistic.
This team was loaded and it was talented, but that loss to Florida State killed their chances at a national title that season with the Clemson Tigers winning it.
After beating Penn State up at State College, the Panthers were invited to the Gator Bowl to play the South Carolina Gamecocks and Heisman winner George Rogers. That was a mistake because this Pittsburgh team deserved to be in a top bowl game.
They went out and proved that by crushing South Carolina 37 – 9.
Hugh Green was listed by USA Today as number 5 on their 100 Greatest Players of all time list. No argument from this blog from my memories of Green. Not only did he finish 2nd in the Heisman as an Outside Linebacker/Defensive End, but he won the Walter Camp, Maxwell and Lombardi Awards. With Offensive Tackle Mark May winning the Outland, the Pittsburgh Panthers dominated the awards that season.
Our guy Green went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL for Tampa Bay and the Miami Dolphins and he was All Pro a couple of years.
Some might wonder if Green could play today at his size. Some schools didn’t bother recruiting him back in the day because they thought he was too small. Green had a motor, and he was smart and studied film. That doesn’t even cover his outstanding speed.
Hugh Green was without a doubt one of the game’s all time great players and yes, he could have played in any era.