College football has had a few almost unblockable Defensive Tackles or Nose Guards. I’ve written about a few of them in Jim Stillwagon: Stillwagon
Rich Glover: Glover
Ron Simmons: Simmons
and now, Rob Waldrop.
Rob Waldrop was a 2 time consensus All American at Arizona in the early 1990’s. He was one of the leaders of the almost legendary Desert Swarm defense that just dominated opponents under head
coach Dick Tomey.
Waldrop was born in the middle of SEC country in Atlanta, Georgia. But, his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona which is where he attended high school. I know, it’s a dry heat.
Waldrop played high school football for Horizon High School in Scottsdale. At Horizon, he helped his team to a 9-3 record and he made All State in Arizona.
He was also a high school wrestler and he sported a 50-4 record. Growing up in the shadows of Arizona State, many thought he would become a Sun Devil, but he signed with the Arizona Wildcats.
He played for the Wildcats from 1990 to 1993 and he made consensus All American in both 1992 and 1993. He won both the Outland and the Bronko Nagurski Trophies in his senior year of 1993.
Like Stillwagon and Glover, Waldrop was never really all that big. He was 6-1, 275 at his peak, probably.
As a sophomore, he injured his knee and his weight got out of control. But, that motivated him to turn it up several notches in his workouts.
By the time he was back for his junior season, Waldrop was just about unblockable. Waldrop was quick, he was strong and he was very intense.
Outside Linebacker legend Tedy Bruschi was the most recognized player on the Desert Swarm Bruschi
defense. He was a fan favorite and he still is.
But, it was Rob Waldrop that was the heart and soul of that intimidating defense.
Not surprisingly, Waldrop had an unbelievable work ethic and he gave it all in the weight room and in the film room.
Waldrop could bench over 500 pounds, squat over 700 pounds and he leaped about 33 inches on his vertical jump. He also ran a 4.65 40 at a body weight of 275 pounds.
Waldrop was also very flexible and could do the splits which is always a feat for a man.
In 1993, the Desert Swarm allowed 30 yards per game rushing on average and 0.9 yards per carry. They allowed only just over 300 yards rushing all season long. Of course, a large part of those stats came from the large number of sacks by Bruschi and Waldrop.
But, then again, nobody could run up the middle with Waldrop able to take on double teams and still not be blocked. That also freed up the Linebackers Brant Boyer, Sean Harris and Shawn Jarrett to go crazy on opponents Running Backs.
Another great thing about this incredible defense was Waldrop’s fellow Defensive Lineman Dave Hoffman. He was never appreciated for the tough talent that he was, but he had 22 1/2 sacks over his career.
Another real standout on that defense was Safety Tony Bouie.
But, the other members of this incredible defense deserve mention as well. The other Defensive End was Jimmie Hopkins.
Jey Phillips, Brandon Sanders and Claudius Wright were the other Defensive Backs.
As a fan of defense, I loved watching these old Arizona teams. Their offense was horrible, but their defense just dominated people and especially Rob Waldrop and Tedy Bruschi.
The 6-1, 275 Waldrop was an incredibly impressive college player, but his lack of outstanding size made him kind of a reach for NFL teams.
The Kansas City Chiefs did draft Waldrop in the 5th round and they wanted him to put on weight to get into the 300 pound range. Waldrop was really more effective at the 275 pound range.
He played for the Chiefs for a season and then headed north to Canada.