QB: Bert Jones – LSU: Jones was nicknamed the Ruston Rifle because he grew up in Ruston, Louisiana and he had a canon for an arm. Jones was the son of former NFL player Dub Jones who played for the Cleveland Browns.
Buddy Lee started at Quarterback for LSU in 1970, with Bert Jones and Paul Lyons being the back ups. In 1971, Paul Lyons started the majority of the games. But, Jones took over for Paul Lyons as a senior and he threw for 1,536 yards and 14 touchdowns. Not big numbers, but this was 1972 and not many teams threw the ball much back then. In 3 seasons, Jones threw for 3,390 yards and 28
Bert Jones was picked with the 2nd pick of the 1st round by the Baltimore Colts. These were just after the years of the great Johnny Unitas in Baltimore and Bert Jones was supposed to be the next big thing. Jones did have some good years in Baltimore and he was their main Quarterback for most of 9 seasons. He played one more year after Baltimore in Los Angeles with the Rams but he didn’t do much there. In the NFL, Bert Jones wound up passing for over 18,000 yards.
After football, Jones moved back to the Ruston area and opened a business.
RB: Otis Armstrong – Purdue: One of the better players in the history of Purdue, Armstrong was a difference maker. Armstrong grew up in Chicago and attended Farragut High School which was also the school of NBA legend Kevin Garnett, Boxer Ernie Terrell, Actress Kim Novak, Game Show Host Pat Sajak and many others.
His first season on the varsity, in 1970, resulted in 1,006 rushing yards. He followed that up with 945 rushing yards as a junior. In 1972, Armstrong made All American after rushing for 1,361 yards.
Armstrong was picked in the 1st round by the Denver Broncos.
During his second year, Armstrong was the NFL’s top rusher and he helped lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl. He wound up playing 8 seasons in the NFL and rushed for 4,453 yards and 25 Touchdowns.
RB: Woody Green – Arizona State: Green was quietly spectacular at Arizona State back in the years they were in the Western Athletic Conference. As a sophomore in 1971, Green ran for 1,209 yards and 9 Touchdowns. He bettered that as a junior running for 1,363 yards and 15 Touchdowns which earned Green consensus All American status. In 1973, Green repeated his success and once again earned All American status. More on Green in the 1973 All American Team post.
RB: Greg Pruitt – Oklahoma: Houston, Texas native Pruitt was the first great Oklahoma Wishbone Halfback and he was instrumental in the success the Sooners had in 1971 and 1972. Pruitt finished 3rd in the Heisman race in 1971 and he finished 2nd in 1972. Pruitt probably should have won the Heisman in 1971 when he rushed for over 1,700 yards when the Sooners finished ranked #2. As a
senior, Pruitt only ran for 938 yards.
Pruitt was picked in the 2nd round by the Cleveland Browns. The speedy Pruitt was a good overall player for the Browns playing for them for 9 seasons before going to the Oakland Raiders and playing 3 more seasons. He ran for 5,672 yards and 27 Touchdowns while catching 328 passes for 3,069 yards and 18 more Touchdowns. Pruitt was also a big punt and kick return man taking several back for scores.
Pruitt made the Pro Bowl 5 times and was part of a Super Bowl champion team with the Raiders.
WR: Johnny Rodgers – Nebraska: Beating Pruitt out for the Heisman in 1972 was none other than the great Johnny Rodgers from Nebraska. Rodgers was an integral part of the Cornhuskers beating Oklahoma in the Game of the Century in 1971. In 1972, Rodgers hauled in 58 receptions for 1,013 yards and 9 Touchdowns. On the ground, he ran for 348 yards and 10 more Touchdowns. Rodgers, of course, was also an outstanding return man and his most famous play as a player came in the Game of the Century when he returned a punt to put the Huskers ahead 7-0.
Rodgers was picked by the San Diego Chargers with their 1st pick, but he decided to head to Canada to play for the Montreal Alouettes. Rodgers played in Canada in the CFL for 4 years and he was an All Star every season there. He returned to the States to play for the Chargers and he suddenly had
injury problems. First it was a hamstring, and then a serious knee injury effectively ended his career.
TE: Charle Young – USC: Young signed with the Trojans from Fresno, California and he became a 3 year starter at Tight End. It’s surprising that the 1972 Trojans did not place more All Americans on this list because that team was loaded. The Trojans did not throw the ball all that much with Pro Football Hall of Fame member Lynn Swann only caught 27 passes in 1972 while Young caught 29 passes. The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Young with their 1st pick which was the 6th overall selection. With the Eagles, Young caught a truck load of passes and then after 4 seasons he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. After that, Young was with the San Francisco 49ers and then Seattle where he finished up his NFL career after 13 seasons.
Young had a great NFL career and caught 418 total passes for 5106 yards and 27 Touchdowns. He had most of his success in his first 4 seasons with the Eagles when he caught 197 passes.
Charle Young is very dedicated to service work to help out his community and a quality human being.
OL: Tom Brahaney – Oklahoma: Brahaney was a 2 time consensus All American at Center for the Oklahoma Sooners. Coming out of Midland, Texas Brahaney was a 3 year starter at Oklahoma and he was a principle player in the 1971 Game of the Century against Nebraska. He was not a huge guy at 6-2, 245 and he was drafted in the 5th round by the St Louis Cardinals because of that. In spite his lack of size, Brahaney still managed to play 9 seasons in the NFL all with the Cardinals.
After football, Brahaney returned to far west Texas and got into the oil and gas business in his home town of Midland where he was a huge success.
OL: John Hannah – Alabama: The son of a former NFL player, John Hannah was one of the best Offensive Guards to ever play the game. He grew up in Albertville, Alabama and signed with the
Alabama Crimson Tide and Bear Bryant. Hannah participated in wrestling and track and field in both high school and at Alabama. Hannah was 6-2, 265 which isn’t huge, but he was tough. After making All SEC and consensus All American, Hannah was picked by the New England Patriots with the 4th selection of the 1st round. Wise choice by the Patriots and Hannah made All Pro an amazing 10 times. He played 13 seasons at New England retiring after the 1985 season. Hannah was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.
John Hannah’s brothers Charley and David also played at Alabama and both were also All SEC. Charley played in the NFL for 12 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Raiders.
OL: Ron Rusnak – North Carolina: The Tar Heels were 9-3 in 1971, but they improved to 11-1 in 1972 with their only loss coming against Ohio State and legend Archie Griffin in his freshman season. The good teams earned Rusnak recognition and All American honors. Rusnak was only 6-2, 220 and at that size he was not drafted by the NFL. But, in college, Rusnak was a really good Offensive Guard.
Rusnak grew up in Prince George, Virginia.
OL: Paul Seymour – Michigan: Growing up in Berkley, Michigan and went to high school at Shrine Catholic High School in Royal Oak, Michigan. Paul Seymour is the younger brother of Notre Dame All American Wide Receiver Jim Seymour.
Signing with the Wolverines, Seymour played Offensive Tackle and was a consensus All American in 1972 on Michigan’s 11-1 team that lost only to Ohio State. Seymour was picked with the 7th selection of the 1st round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. In a strange twist, the 6-5, 255 Seymour moved to Tight End and he played 5 seasons for the Bills.
OL: Jerry Sisemore – Texas: Sisemore was a 2 time consensus All American at Texas. He was a
sophomore starter on the 1970 national championship team and Texas was 28-5 with Sisemore as a starter at Offensive Tackle. While Sisemore was not the NFL player that John Hannah was, he was still very good after being picked with the 3rd selection of the 1st round by the Philadelphia Eagles. Sisemore played 12 years for the Eagles and made the Pro Bowl multiple times.
Sisemore retired and got into real estate and lives on a beautiful lake just west of Austin.
DL: Bruce Bannon – Penn State: Bannon was more of an Outside Linebacker and was really quick off of the edge.He was equally good against the run and the pass, but he used great acceleration to wreck havoc with opposing Quarterbacks. The Nittany Lions were 28-6 with Bannon on the varsity including a 10-2 record in 1972. The New York Jets drafted Bannon with their 5th round pick but he played a couple of seasons with the Miami Dolphins as a Linebacker.
DL: Dave Butz – Purdue: The big man from Purdue played high school football in Park Ridge, Illinois at Maine South High School. He was a good athlete for his size and played football,
basketball and threw the discus in track and field. He set the state record in the discus. Butz was 6-7, 290 which was a giant of a man in those days as well as today. Butz was taken with the 5th selection of the 1st round by the St Louis Cardinals where he played for 2 seasons before being traded to the Washington Redskins. With the Redskins is where he really came into his own playing 14 more seasons. Those 14 years included 2 Super Bowl Championship teams. Butz was one of the best players in Washington Redskins history and from a Defensive Tackle position he ranks 3rd all time in team Quarterback sacks.
Butz moved back to Illinois after he finally retired from football after playing for 16 seasons.
DL: Rich Glover – Nebraska: One of my all time favorite players and I blogged about him previously here: Glover He was undersized at 6-1, 240, but he was tough, quick and determined. If you blocked Glover, he was not going to stay blocked and he was probably going to be involved in the tackle. Glover was credited with 22 tackles in the Game of the Century and that was from his Nose Guard position and matched up against excellent All American Center Tom Brahaney of Oklahoma. That was a match for the ages both between the teams and Brahaney versus Glover. Glover won both the Outland and the Lombardi Trophies in 1972 while making consensus All American and he should have been an All American in 1971 as well. Glover also finished in 3rd
place for the Heisman Trophy behind teammate Johnny Rodgers which is phenomenal for a Defensive Lineman.
Originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, Glover was probably overjoyed to be picked by the New York Giants with their 3rd round pick of the 1973 NFL Draft. Glover was never going to make it big in the NFL because of his lack of size, but he played for the Giants for a year before going to the Shreveport Steamers of the World Football League and then he returned to the NFL with Philadelphia for a year. After he retired as a player, he got into high school coaching. Glover was one of the college game’s all time greats.
DL: Willie Harper – Nebraska: Earning consensus All American honors in 1971, Harper repeated in 1972. The Huskers have always recruited nationwide with players like Glover coming from New Jersey and Quarterback Jerry Tagge from Green Bay, Wisconsin. They signed Willie Harper out of Toledo, Ohio and he would come up big for them from 1970 through 1972. He was considered a Defensive End, but was more of an Outside Linebacker for Nebraska. The Huskers were 32-2-2 while Glover and Harper were terrorizing opponents. Harper was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1973 in the 2nd round and he played for them for 11 seasons and then he played in the United States Football League for the New Jersey Generals and then for the Houston Texans.
DL: Greg Marx – Notre Dame: Marx grew up in Detroit playing at Catholic Central High School. He was the Defensive player of the year in the state of Michigan and earned high school All American honors. He also played basketball in high school. Marx naturally signed with Ara Parseghian and Notre Dame and played on the varsity from 1970 through 1972 earning All American as a senior. Marx was 6-4, 260 and a load to move out from his Defensive Line position for any Offensive Lineman. He was picked in the 2nd round of the draft by the Atlanta Falcons but only lasted one season in the NFL for some reason. Marx returned to Notre Dame and got his law degree by 1977.
LB: Randy Gradishar – Ohio State: The Buckeyes could challenge Penn State for Linebacker U status and I ranked Gradishar as the 6th best ever on my own list of their greatest: Buckeye LBs Gradishar grew up in Champion, Ohio where he was a star football and basketball player. He was an intimidation machine and a shot blocker/rebounder in basketball. But, his future was in football and he was a 3 year starter at Linebacker for Ohio State and Woody Hayes called him the best Linebacker he ever coached. Gradishar was a junior in 1972 and he was a repeat on this list in 1973.
Gradishar was picked by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round by the Denver Broncos and he became the heart and soul of the Orange Crush Defense of those days. There will be more about Gradishar on the 1973 AA list.
LB: John Skorupan – Penn State: One of the early day players that helped establish the Nittany Lions as Linebacker U. Skorupan grew up in Beaver, Pennsylvania not to be confused with Beaver Falls the hometown of Joe Namath. Skorupan was 6-2, 225 and a very aggressive and talented Inside Linebacker for Penn State. He was picked by the Buffalo Bills in the 6th round and played there for 5 seasons and was a starter. He was traded to the New York Giants and was an outside Linebacker for them before losing his starting job to the great Lawrence Taylor. Skorupan lives in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.
DB: Cullen Bryant – Colorado: The Colorado Buffaloes of 1971 and 1972 were not like the present day team. The 1971 team finished the season ranked #3 behind fellow Big 8 members Nebraska and Oklahoma which I wrote about here: Big 8 The 1972 Buffaloes dropped to 8-4 and they started to drop off after that. Cullen Bryant went to high school in Colorado Springs and signed with Colorado where he played Defensive Back earning consensus All American honors in 1972. Bryant was picked by the Los Angeles Rams with their 2nd round pick in the 1973 NFL Draft. With the Rams, he became Kick and Punt returner before moving to the Running Back position. He was never a huge star in the NFL, but he did put together some good seasons with the 1980 season being his best as he ran for 806 yards. Bryant played 10 seasons for the Rams before moving on to the Seattle Seahawks where he played 2 years. His final season was back with the Rams giving him 13 seasons in the NFL. During his career, Bryant ran for 3,264 yards and 20 Touchdowns. He also had over a 1,100 receiving yards and 3 Kickoff returns for scores. Bryant was a big guy at 6-1, 235 which makes his use as a return man amazing. Sadly, Bryant passed away from natural causes at the age of 58.
DB: Randy Logan – Michigan: Detroit native Logan signed with Bo Schembechler and the Michigan Wolverines as his first recruiting class in 1969. In 1970, Logan was a back up at the
Wingback position before he moved over to defense for his junior season. On defense, Logan played Strong Safety and he helped the Wolverines to an unbeaten season and a Rose Bowl berth. Like so many other Rose Bowl trips, the game ended with the Wolverines being upset by the Pac 8 champion when Stanford kicked a Field Goal to win the game late, 13 to 12. On the 1972 Michigan defense, Logan was picked as it’s MVP while he was also earning All American honors. Michigan lost to Ohio State in it’s last game and in those years it was the Rose Bowl, or nothing, for Big 10 teams so they didn’t go to a bowl game in 1972.
Logan was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with their 3rd round selection and he played there for 11 seasons as a Safety. Logan picked off 23 passes during his playing days with the Eagles and he played in one Super Bowl.
After retiring from football, Logan worked with troubled juveniles in Philadelphia.
DB: Robert Popelka – SMU: Growing up in Temple, Texas Popelka signed with SMU and became a starter in the secondary. He was a two time All SWC selection and played well enough to earn consensus All American in 1972 which was his senior season. 1972 was head coach Hayden Fry’s last year as head coach at SMU. Popelka was picked in the 14th round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns but he did not play in the NFL.
DB: Brad Van Pelt – Michigan State: Brad Van Pelt was a personal hero for me and I also enjoyed watching his son Bradlee Van Pelt play Quarterback for Colorado State. Van Pelt was a tremendous athlete in high school and played Quarterback at 6-5, 220. He also played basketball and baseball and some Major League teams wanted to draft him in high school. At Michigan State, he played for the
legendary Duffy Daugherty at the end of his career. The Spartans were not good in 1972, but Van Pelt was good enough to make consensus All American.
He was picked by the New York Giants in the 2nd round and he was moved to Linebacker. Van Pelt put on weight and played in the NFL at 6-5, 235 and he played 14 seasons with 11 of those in New York. At New York, he teamed with the great Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson and Brian Kelley to form the Crunch Bunch and they were extremely close on the field and off becoming life long friends.
Sadly, Brad Van Pelt died in 2009 of an apparent heart attack.