Herschel Walker, peach of a runner and a person, too
Herschel Walker may finally have a bead on the Heisman Trophy, which has side-stepped him the last two years.Skip to next paragraph
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Both statistically and artistically, Stanford's senior quarterback John Elway stands a chance for the title of best college football player. But Georgia's crunching tailback owns one important edge. He is playing on a No. 1 team for the second time in three years.
And in case anyone's wondering, neither Bulldog squad was supposed to be riding the crest. About the only constant was the thunder identified as No. 34 in your program.
That Herschel may wind up leading essentially two different teams to a national championship makes specifics practically unnecessary. For the record, though, he has scored 50 career touchdowns, averaged better than five yards a carry, and moved into fourth place among the all-time rushing leaders with 5,097 yards.
Given another year of eligibility, an almost unimaginable 7,000 yards gained is not out of the question. (Tony Dorsett's 6,082 yards are the current standard.)
As the consummate freight train in cleats, Walker has impeccable stats, but they tell only part of the story.
Herschel is as multi-faceted as any young man could hope to be, particularly one asked to devote so much time to football. But he doesn't eat, sleep, and breathe the game as some scholarship athletes do and hardly considers himself a sports fanatic. ''I never watched football on TV or anything,'' he indicates. ''I love to compete. I love to play it. I just never kept up with it.''
His non-football pursuits seem to run the gamut, from horseback riding and karate to poetry writing and dancing. That he seldom sleeps more than four hours helps him squeeze a lot into his days.
''I'm an active person. I can't sit down; I have to be doing something,'' he says. ''Before a game I'll be dancing or clowning around, and other people don't think I'm concentrating. I even dance putting my uniform on.''
Though he's smooth enough to have won several dance contests, Herschel never boogaloos in the end zone. When he scores, the ball is tossed casually to the official. The gentleman that's so evident off the field shines through.
''I think I'd vote on Herschel for the Heisman Trophy on character alone,'' says Gil Brandt, vice president of the Dallas Cowboys. ''He's one of the finest young men that I've ever had the privilege of meeting.''
With the press he's very well mannered and makes full, articulate answers the rule, not the exception.
During the season, Walker is made available to the media hordes during twice-weekly press conferences and after games. That he's uttered nary a curt, irritable word in three years is a testament to his upbringing if nothing else.
His parents have instilled in him a love for life, a respect for people, and a reverence for God. He and his mother are particularly close.Last year, when he finished second to Southern California's Marcus Allen in the Heisman race, she presented Herschel with a trophy resembling the famed statuette. It was inscribed: ''To the best son in the world.''
His coach, Vince Dooley, calls Walker ''amazingly disciplined'' for someone with such raw talent. Despite his professed penchant for movement, he sits erectly and listens closely in sometimes tedious team meetings. But then Herschel always was a good student.The valedictorian of a high school class of 104 pupils, he has maintained a B average studying criminology at college.