Yesterday we introduced the idea of a "Mount Rushmore" of Rutgers football greats. BTN will be airing the series highlighting each Big Ten team's candidates. Today we look at the group of players from before many of you were around. In the next edition, we'll review the "modern" era of Rutgers football greats.
There are a lot of names here of people most of us never saw play. I mean, I never saw Babe Ruth play but I know he's great because of data and statistics and good stories. Today we're looking at the first six names in chronological order. Maybe you can do your own bracketology to choose your list of greats. To vote, go to BTN's voting survey or use the survey at the bottom of the story.
And if you know more about a player or want to do some politicking for your favorite, let's meet in the comments section.
Up through 1949
Homer Hazel (1916, 1923-24)
Comments: He was inducted into the first class of the College Football Hall of Fame. An AA at two different positions. And a three sport star - hear of many of them anymore? The MVP award for the football team is named after him.
Kevin: He sounds like the quintessential old school player who did just about everything for the football team. Probably was around the time the term "hard-nosed" was invented. Also, it's just so B1G to have a fullback on this list.
rvc73: It's just so B1G to have a guy from the early part of the 20th Century.
Ray Ransom: This is the kind of athlete that comes along once in a century. Versatile, dependable, and as you can see from the picture, completely terrifying.
- College Football Hall of Fame Inductee, 1951
- Walter Camp All-American End (1923) and Fullback (1924)
- Set school records for most PAT's and longest pass during 1924 season
- Lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track at Rutgers
- Scarlet Knights finished 14-2-2 during final two seasons, 1923-24
Paul Robeson (1915-18)
Comments: Fifteen varsity letters. Fifteen! In four sports! An All American as an African-American in 1917. And his post-graduate life was even more impressive.
rvc73's comment: If anyone goes on the list, Robeson does.
Kevin: This one is a no-brainer. He's mentioned in everything that Rutgers does, and with good reason. Paul Robeson is one of the greatest to play, and it's an honor he did at the State University of New Jersey.
Ray Ransom: It makes me so happy that Robeson is a Loyal Son of Rutgers. I mean, the fact that he was an All-American at Rutgers while the valedictorian of his class is a footnote to earning his law degree at Columbia while starring in the NFL and championing international well-being while starring on broadway. This guy is none other than Superman.
- College Football Hall of Fame Inductee, 1995
- Rutgers Sports Hall of Fame Inductee, 1988
- Third African-American student ever enrolled at Rutgers and first to be a member of the football team
- Two-time All-American End, 1917-18
- Earned 15 varsity letters at Rutgers in football, basketball, baseball and track & field
1950's and 1960's
Bill Austin (1956-58)
Comments: The Heisman winner was Army's Pete Dawkin's, who, for the record, later ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in NJ. He finished in the Heisman ahead of Don Meredith (yes, the guy from the original Monday Night Football) and just behind Joe Kapp, who played QB for the Bills. First team All American on a team that played Princeton, Colgate, Bucknell, and Lafayette.
Ray Ransom: You see a pattern here? A Century of All-American Fullbacks from Dear Old Rutgers. Us Jersey boys are smart and tough.
- Rutgers Football Hall of Fame Inductee, 1988
- Finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting, 1958
- AP First-team All-American Fullback, 1958
- His 32 TD's during career are second in school history, while his 13 career INT's are one short of school record
- Led Rutgers to 1958 Middle Atlantic Conference University Division title (one of five conference championships in school history)
Alex Kroll (1960-61)
Comments: Kroll went on to be a great businessman leading advertising giant Young & Rubicam. All American on a squad that played the likes of Princeton, Columbia, Lafayette, and Penn.
Kevin: I'll always vote for a great businessman that came from Rutgers.
Ray Ransom: This guy was a bad mother. Went to Yale on an academic scholarship, got kicked out for getting into a fight with a professor, came to Rutgers and led the team to an undefeated season. Like a boss.
- College Football Hall of Fame Inductee, 1997
- Consensus All-American center, 1961
- Captain of 1961 team, Rutgers first undefeated squad (9-0)
- Middle Atlantic Conference University Division champions, 1960-61
- Started career at Yale in 1956 before serving in Army for three years (teams were 25-2 in three seasons)
1970's and 1980's
Deron Cherry (1977-80)
Comments: One of the first RU players to make it big in the NFL. Started out as a punter and became one of the best DBs around.
rvc73's comment: He played defense like nobody else. I'm looking real hard at him being on my list.
Ray Ransom: You may have been one of the best safeties to ever play the game, but when you get named team MVP as the punter, well that's just special.
- Rutgers Football Hall of Fame Inductee, 1993
- Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey Inductee, 1996
- Two-time All-ECAC selection, 1979-80
- Team MVP and Co-Captain, 1980
- NFL 1980's All-Decade Team, Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Honor & 6-time Pro Bowl selection
Tyronne Stowe (1983-86)
Comments: Defense was actually played at Rutgers before Greg Schiano "invented" it. Stowe was a stalwart on the line and went on to a successful career in the NFL. He was a co-captain of the team his senior year.
Ray Ransom: 533 tackles in a career? Two 150 tackle seasons? 27 and 22 tackles vs. West Virginia? Decent players go a whole season with 27 tackles or a whole career with 150. Legen-waitforit-dary.
- Three-time All-ECAC selection, 1984-86
- Finished career with school records for total tackles (533) and solo tackles (326)
- Led team in tackles during 1985-86 seasons (two of four 150+ tackle seasons in Rutgers' history)
- Played for four teams during nine-year NFL career, 1987-95
- His school-record 27 tackles in 1986 and 22 in 1985 are two highest tackle totals ever by a West Virginia opponent