QB: Mike Phipps – Purdue: Phipps replaced Pro Football Hall of Fame Quarterback Bob Griese at Purdue. Phipps signed with the Boilermakers out of Columbus, Indiana and it was easier to keep the better players home back in the 1960’s because Purdue was one of the better college football programs in the nation. Phipps had a good sophomore season, but battled through injuries during his junior year in 1968. As a senior in 1969, Phipps threw for 2,527 and 23 Touchdowns while he finished 2nd in the Heisman Trophy race behind Steve Owens of Oklahoma. Over his career at
Purdue, Phipps threw for 5,423 yards and 37 Touchdowns. The Cleveland Browns picked Phipps with the 3rd pick of the 1st round. He didn’t have a great NFL career, but he did play for the Browns for 7 seasons and then another 5 with the Chicago Bears.
RB: Jim Otis – Ohio State: Growing up in Celina, Ohio the 6-0, 220 Otis always wanted to play for the Buckeyes as many Ohio kids do. Otis came in the year before the Super Sophomores did, but he did take advantage of having all that extra talent on campus. In 1969, Otis ran for 1,027 yards and 15 Touchdowns following his junior season when he ran for 985 yards and 17 Touchdowns. Over his career in Columbus, Otis ran for 2,542 yards and 34 Touchdowns. The New Orleans Saints picked Otis with their 9th round pick and he actually had a pretty decent NFL career with mostly St Louis. In 1975 with the Cardinals, he ran for 1,076 yards and made All Pro.
OB: Bob Anderson – Colorado: Younger brother of the great Dick Anderson of Miami Dolphins fame. Anderson actually played Quarterback at Colorado but wasn’t much of a passer running for 967 yards and 18 Touchdowns in 1969 and only threw for 124 yards. However, in 1968, he threw for 1,341 yards while running for 788 yards and 9 Touchdowns.
The local Denver Broncos picked Anderson as a Running Back with their 1st round pick at number 11 in the 1970 NFL Draft. Anderson was a tremendous athlete and they used him as a Kick Returner as well as a Running Back, but he never really stood out. The 1971 season was his best with 533 yards rushing and 37 receptions and 353 yards.
RB: Steve Owens – Oklahoma: The 1969 Heisman Trophy winner Owens was an early day power runner at 6-2, 215. As a sophomore in 1967, Owens ran for 869 yards and 13 Touchdowns. His junior season in 1968, Owens ran for an impressive 1,536 yards and 21 Touchdowns.
Winning the Heisman in 1969 took 1,523 yards and 23 Touchdowns. The Sooners only finished 6-4 in 1969 in the years before they went to the Wishbone Offense. He finished with 3,928 yards at
Oklahoma and 57 Touchdowns.
Owens was picked by the Detroit Lions with their 1st pick at number 19. With the Lions, he became the first player in franchise history to top the 1,000 yard barrier. Injuries prevented him from having a good NFL career and he retired before the 1975 season with only 2,451 career rushing yards.
Owens became the Oklahoma Athletic Director after football.
WR: Carlos Alvarez – Florida: Cuban refugee was born in Havana. His father was a successful lawyer in Cuba and they fled the country when Fidel Castro gained power when Alvarez was 10 years old. He played high school football at North Miami and he was highly recruited. He picked Florida and his best year there was his sophomore season of 1969. That season, he caught 88 passes for 1,329 yards and 12 Touchdowns which was pretty incredible for the time period. The Gators finished 9-1-1 in 1969 under head coach Ray Graves who stepped down after the season ended. Doug Dickey took Graves place and the receptions went down dramatically for Alvarez. He caught only 44 passes in 1970 and 40 passes in 1971 as the Gator’s record dropped to 4-7.
Alvarez was picked in the 15th round by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1972 draft, but injuries forced him into law school. He became a lawyer and a law professor.
WR: Walker Gillette – Richmond: Gillette playing at Richmond caught 57 passes in 1969 for 1,090 yards and 11 Touchdowns. Gillette had a consistent college career at Richmond with 51 receptions as a sophomore and 50 as a junior and he finished with 158 catches for 2,649 yards and 22 Touchdowns. Gillette was taken with the 15th pick of the 1st round by the San Diego Chargers and followed in the footsteps of his father, Jim, playing in the NFL. He played two seasons with the Chargers and 2 more with the St Louis Cardinals. Then, he played three more years with the New York Giants. Gillette caught 153 passes for 2,291 yards and 12 Touchdowns.
TE: Jim Mandich – Michigan: The Solon, Ohio native Mandich was nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’. A three year starter at Michigan, Mandich caught 26 passes in 1967 for a bad 4-6 Michigan team. As a junior in 1968, the Wolverines improved to 8-2 and Mandich caught 42 passes and 3 Touchdowns. During his senior season of 1969, the Wolverines upset number 1 ranked Ohio State and they won the Big 10 championship. Mandich caught 50 passes and made All American. The Miami Dolphins picked
Mandich with the 2nd pick of the 2nd round. Mandich was mostly a back up Tight End for the Dolphins, but he played a lot and he took part in 3 Super Bowls with them. His best season came in 1974 when he caught 33 passes. Mandich joined the Steelers in 1978 and they won a Super Bowl giving Mandich 3 Super Bowl championships. Mandich retired from the NFL with 121 receptions after 9 seasons.
Mandich died in 2011 from cancer.
OL: Rodney Brand – Arkansas: Weighing less that 220 pounds, Brand was way undersized. But, he was a tough and gritty Center for the Razorbacks. The Newport, Arkansas native was on the Razorback varsity for 3 seasons and he looked good enough as a senior in 1969 to make consensus All American. He was the Center for #2 ranked Arkansas when they were edged out by Texas in the Big Shootout game of 1969. After losing to Texas, the Razorbacks were upset in the Sugar Bowl by Ole Miss 22-27 to finish 9-2 on the season. Brand was picked in the 14th round by the New York Football Giants but never played a down in the NFL.
OL: Bill Bridges – Houston: The 6-2, 235 Bridges played Offensive Guard for the Houston Cougars and was a consensus All American in 1969. The Cougars were running the Houston Veer in those days which was somewhat similar to the Wishbone Offense and they were a dangerous opponent. Bridges was from Carrolton, Texas which is a suburb of Dallas and was drafted in the 9th round by the Buffalo Bills but never played.
OL: Chip Kell – Tennessee: The junior, Kell, was a 3 time All SEC performer and a 2 time All American. Hailing from Decatur, Georgia Kell played Center and was a team leader for a very successful time period for the Vols. Kell was picked in the 17th round after his senior season, but he chose to play in Canada and he played there for 2 seasons.
OL: Bob McKay – Texas: Bob McKay went to Texas from far West Texas and was the national champion’s best Offensive Lineman in 1969. The 6-5, 260 McKay was an excellent run blocker in Texas’ brand new Wishbone Offense and he helped lead them to a SWC championship in 1968 and a national championship in 1969. McKay was picked in the 1st round by the Cleveland Browns where he played for 6 years before finishing up with 3 more seasons with the Patriots.
OL: John Ward – Oklahoma State: Ward was a talent and a force in the Oklahoma State Offensive Line at Tackle in 1969. At 6-4, 260, Ward was picked by the Minnesota Vikings with the 25th pick of the 1st round and he played for 5 seasons. Then, he finished up with the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native passed away from cancer in 2012 at the age of 64.
DL: Jimmy Gunn – USC: Gunn signed with USC out of Lincoln High School in San Diego. That
was the same school that produced Marcus Allen, Terrell Davis and Akili Smith among others. Gunn was smallish for a Defensive Lineman at 6-1, 220 but he had the speed to play Linebacker. He teamed with several other Defensive Linemen such as Tody Smith, Al Cowlings and Charlie Weaver to form a front called the ‘Wild Bunch’. Gunn was not picked by the NFL until the 12th round, but he played 6 seasons for the Chicago Bears and another year for the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gunn passed away in 2015 from heart failure at the age of 66.
DL: Mike McCoy – Notre Dame: A giant of a man from Erie, Pennsylvania at 6-5, 280. McCoy was a monster for the Fighting Irish in the late 1960’s. With their first pick of the 1st round, the Green Bay Packers picked McCoy which was 2nd overall in the 1970 NFL Draft. McCoy played 7 seasons with the Packers and he was one of their better players. Overall, McCoy played 11 seasons in the NFL going from Green Bay to Oakland and then to the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions.
After football, McCoy got into the ministry.
DL: Phil Olsen – Utah State: The younger brother of football legend and Hall of Fame member, Merlin Olsen of the Los Angeles Rams Fearsome Foursome front line of the 1960s. The younger Olsen was a player in his own right. In high school, Olsen was recruited by nearly everybody after starting 3 years on both sides of the ball. He was also a talented basketball player and track and field athlete. Olsen followed his older brother to Utah State and he was a 3 year starter at Defensive Tackle. Hoping that he was just like his older brother, the Boston Patriots drafted him with the 4th pick of the 1st round. Unfortunately, Olsen injured his knee in an all star game and had to sit out his rookie year. The Patriots traded him to Los Angeles and the Rams before the 1971 season. Olsen re-injured the same knee again, but bounced back quickly. He was traded again and this time to
Denver and they converted him to the Center position. Olsen spent 9 years in the NFL, but another knee injury sidelined him for good.
DL: Mike Reid – Penn State: Reid was an awesome college football player at Penn State and a three year starter. He was also a wrestler in college which elevates him as a football player in my book. Besides being a consensus All American in 1969, Reid also won the Outland and the Maxwell Award. Defensive Tackles rarely win the Maxwell Award, but Reid and his Penn State teammates were good going 11-0 in both 1968 and 1969.
The Cincinnati Bengals took Reid with their first pick at number 7 of the 1st round. In the NFL, Reid took up where he left off at Penn State and earned Pro Bowls and All Pro honors.
After 5 seasons, Reid left the NFL at the top of his game to pursue a music career which he has done well with.
DL: Jim Stillwagon – Ohio State: Undersized but quick, the tough as nails Stillwagon was a three year starter at Nose Guard for the Buckeyes. He was a member of the legendary Super Sophomore recruiting class that went 27-2 in 3 seasons. Stillwagon was 6-0, 240 at his very biggest, but brought passion and fire to the position. Stillwagon was a junior in 1969 and went on to win the Lombardi and the Outland Trophies in 1970. Green Bay took Stillwagon with their 5th round pick in the 1971 NFL Draft, but he chose to go north to Canada where he was an All Star for 3 seasons in 5 years.
LB: Mike Ballou – UCLA: Home town Los Angeles native, Ballou attended Santa Monica College for a couple of seasons before making it to the UCLA Bruins. He signed with the Bruins and started two seasons earning consensus All American in 1969. Ballous was drafted by the Boston Patriots with their 3rd round pick, but he only played there one season.
LB: Steve Kiner – Tennessee: Two time consensus All American Kiner was one of this decade’s best players as it was coming to a close. Kiner was a good enough athlete to play Quarterback in high school at his home town of Tampa, Florida. He also played Linebacker and that’s where the Volunteers decided to play him. After playing on the freshman team in 1966, Kiner immediately moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore and made All SEC. His junior and senior seasons were much of the same with Kiner making All SEC, but he also made All American both seasons.
The Dallas Cowboys picked Kiner with their 3rd round pick in the 1970 Draft and Kiner was there for one season. When he did not start, he demanded to be traded and he was shipped off to Boston. He was a star for the Patriots for a season, but something happened in Pre Season in Boston and he was expelled from the team. Then, he was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 1972. That was the only undefeated team in NFL history, but they cut Kiner before camp ended. He signed with the Washington Redskins and was on their Taxi (practice) squad. But, they cut him also later in the
season. He was claimed by the New England or Boston Patriots again in 1973 and played there for a season. Then, they traded him to the Houston Oilers. With Houston, Kiner got his stuff together and became a really good player for 5 seasons. He was finally out of football for good in 1979 when the Oilers let him go.
After football, Kiner went back to school and earned 2 master’s degrees and went into the health industry where he was successful. He may have been a bit of a prima donna as a younger man, but he got his act together and good for him.
LB: Dennis Onkotz – Penn State: A lot of people don’t like Joe Paterno because of the scandal that ended his career, but I believe they are wrong about the man. But, simply regarding football, Paterno was a defensive genius and was responsible for Penn State becoming Linebacker U with no offense to Ohio State or anyone else producing great Linebackers. Onkotz may have been the first great Penn State Linebacker but he was certainly not the last. To make things even better for Penn State, Jack Ham was one of their other Linebackers and he was one of the greatest of all time.
DB: Tom Curtis – Michigan: A lot of Michigan players come from Ohio and Curtis is no different hailing from Aurora, Ohio where he was a Quarterback. Before his sophomore season at Michigan, Curtis moved over to Safety where he started for 3 seasons. Curtis still holds interceptions records for single game, season and career at Michigan. The Wolverines upset Ohio State and it’s Super Sophomores in 1969 and Curtis earned consensus All American honors.
DB: Buddy McClinton – Auburn: Signing with Auburn from Montgomery, Alabama McClinton was one of their all time great Safeties. He Intercepted 9 passes in 1969 which garnered him recognition by the national media and he had 18 career picks at Auburn. Supposedly, McClinton was 5-7 when he went to Auburn and he didn’t get a lot bigger so he was never drafted and did not play in the NFL.
DB: Jack Tatum – Ohio State: The Assassin was a junior in 1969 and part of the Super
Sophomores, also. This group won the national championship in 1968, but they were upset by Michigan in 1969 basically giving the title to Texas. After making consensus All American in 1969 and 1970, Tatum was picked in the 1st round by the Oakland Raiders and there will be more about Tatum in the 1970 version of this list.