The SMU Mustangs signed one of the best recruiting classes in the nation in 1979.
It’s no secret how this recruiting class was gathered and SMU subsequently got the death penalty by the NCAA. But, it was still one of the greatest recruiting classes of it’s era.
There was a recruiting junkie back in the day named Dr Charles Holland who kept his own lists which felt pretty accurate. Now days, there are hundreds of recruiting analysts and services, but back then there were a limited few.
The USC Trojans signed 4 out of his top 10 recruits which is just dominating, but SMU signed more
guys in the top 100.
Running Back Eric Dickerson of Sealy, Texas was a lot of people’s very top recruit in the country after leading his team to the state championship.
Another Running Back, Craig James from Houston, Texas was ranked 12th and he also led his team to the state championship while breaking the single season rushing record for his classification. They brought in several more prospects in the top 100 at other positions.
But, they also brought in another Running Back that was rated 85th in the entire country in Charles Waggoner from Dallas, Texas.
Actually, they brought in 4 guys at Running Back in that class with Michael Charles, also of Houston, Texas.
To his credit, Michael Charles stuck around and ran for 545 yards in 4 seasons.
Dickerson and James were the stars of this class. Dickerson went on to run for 4,450 yards in college and then over 13,000 yards in 13 years in the NFL including the 1984 season when Dickerson ran for over 2,000 yards.
James ran for 3,742 yards at SMU and then 2,469 yards in the NFL which would have been more if not for injuries. During the 1985 season, James ran for 1,200 yards for the New England Patriots.
But, forgotten in the mix of these four Running Backs is Charles Waggoner of Dallas Carter High
Dallas Carter is not like it once was, but back in those days it was one of the bigger talent producers in the country. Jessie Armstead, Clifton Abraham, Michael Crabtree, Chet Brooks, Greg Hill, Darren Lewis and Le’Shai Maston all attended Dallas Carter and all went on to college football success and the NFL.
As freshmen at SMU, Charles Waggoner actually outplayed Dickerson and James. He was the starter when all of these guys were freshmen in 1979.
Waggoner had 612 yards rushing that season, but he was severely injured against Texas Tech returning a Kickoff and never played football again.
Vertebrae in is back narrowed because of the hit and another hit could cause him to become paralyzed.
Waggoner not only proved he belonged on the same field as Eric Dickerson and Craig James, but he proved he might have been better than they were.
Who knows what would have happened to Charles Waggoner if he had not been injured. The sky was the limit.