I know that many folks will say that the best player ever to come out of Joliet Catholic Academy in Joliet, Illinois was Notre Dame’s Rudy Ruettiger.
Coby Fleener of Stanford and later the Indianapolis Colts, and Tom Thayer of Notre Dame and later the Chicago Bears both attended Joliet Catholic
But, the best player may have been super star Fullback Mike Alstott who also attended that school before signing with Purdue. Rudy Ruettiger jokes aside, Alstott was a beast.
Joliet Catholic Academy is a football powerhouse in the state of Illinois. While admittedly Illinois is not the football state such as a Texas, or a Florida, or even an Ohio, they have placed some quality players in the college and NFL ranks over the years. Mike Alstott was one of the best of those players.
Joliet Catholic Academy has won numerous state titles in football and Alstott was a part of that. As a high school player, Alstott was a Parade All American and ran for nearly 4,000 yards.
But, strangely, Alstott was not that highly recruited. College coaches thought he was too slow and he was only about 210 pounds in high school.
He visited some nearby Big 10 schools like Wisconsin, Illinois and Purdue. When the All American teams came out, like Parade Magazine, some other schools wanted to get in on him. But, he liked Purdue and one of his former teammates was there already.
Alstott was not an instant sensation at Purdue, but he did get 46 carries which he turned into 195 yards and 2 Touchdowns as a true freshman in 1992.
Alstott was soon no longer 210 pounds, but had started beefing up to the 248 pounds which was the weight he played at during his time in the NFL.
His sophomore season of 1993 was a different story. The team was terrible that season with Jim
Colletto coaching and they finished the season at 1-10.
But, the bright spot on that team was their Fullback, Mike Alstott. The big Fullback was the team’s leading rusher with 816 yards coming from 153 carries. He rushed for a team leading 12 Touchdowns. Alstott also caught 30 passes that season for another 407 yards and 2 Touchdowns.
The 1994 season was a little better for the Boilermakers and they finished the season 4-5-2. Alstott was amazing.
He carried the ball 202 times while running for 1,188 yards and 14 Touchdowns. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry from the Fullback position. That’s more like 6 yards and a cloud of dust.
He had another 298 yards from 23 receptions.
Jim Colletto was still around coaching the Boilermakers for Mike Alstott’s senior season in 1995.
It was still troubled times at Purdue and they finished with an unimpressive 4-6-1 win/loss record.
Mike Alstott was clearly not the reason for losses and he had his best season as a Boilermaker. While still averaging nearly 6 yards per carry, Alstott carried the ball 243 times and gained 1,436 yards and 11 Touchdowns.
He caught 26 passes out of the backfield for 162 yards.
For his career, Mike Alstott was the leading rusher in Boilermaker history. He carried the football 644 times for 3,635 yards and 39 Touchdowns. He caught 93 passes for 1,075 yards and 3 more
He had 4,710 total career yards at Purdue.
Once again, there was a big and very productive Running Back/Fullback available for the taking and seemingly nobody really wanted him.
Mike Alstott was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 35th pick in the NFL Draft. Every team in the NFL passed over him at least once and several of them passed on him twice.
Mike Alstott played 11 seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he ran for 5,088 yards and 58 Touchdowns.
He caught 305 passes for 2,284 and 13 more Touchdowns.
Playing in the NFL is just a little tougher than playing against the Indiana Hoosiers and Alstott only averaged 3.7 yards per carry over his career.
But, he was still one of the better Fullbacks that ever played the game.