Football season was filled with special plays, oddball bounces
Polls, bowls, and touchdown plays may dominate the headlines, but there are many interesting, if less publicized, facets - from exceptional plays and players to oddall bounces and developments - that have given the 1986 college football season a special texture. Following are some that stand out to this writer. Most versatile players: Holy Cross's Gordie Lockbaum garnered most of the accolades for doing a little of everything (rushing, pass receiving, kick returns, defense), but at least two other athletes - Purdue's Ron Woodson and Rice's Quentis Roper - deserve mention. Woodson, an All-American defensive back, got a chance to play both ways in the season finale against Indiana and rushed for 97 yards. Roper, a quarterback, became the Southwest Conference's all-time kickoff return leader with 795 yards on 34 runbacks.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Best long-distance effort: Field-length scoring plays are rare, but Titus Dixon of Troy State (Ala.) came within a yard of producing a pair in successive games. Against Nicholls State, he was on the receiving end of a 99-yard touchdown pass play. The next week against Livingston he ran back a kickoff 100 yards.
Humblest hero: Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde, who, after winning the Heisman Trophy, said he would have voted for teammate Alonzo Highsmith. That was high praise for the senior fullback, who rushed for only 462 yards. But Highsmith is a devastating blocker who clears the way for other runners and helps give Testaverde the protection he needs to make the passing game click.
Best long-shot campaign: Before Paul Palmer, Temple's most famous running back was Bill Cosby, which explains why the school's publicists strove so mightily to gain Palmer Heisman Trophy consideration. They had the gifted tailback pose with Arnold Palmer (no relation) and produced a 16-page comic book featuring Paul's running adventures. The effort paid off, as the Owl star finished second to Testaverde in the voting. Of course, winning the major-college rushing title and breaking the record for yards in four consecutive games didn't hurt.
Best academic record: Hats off to Virginia, which plays a respectable brand of major-college football, and with serious students. The Cavaliers (3-8) make up for any athletic shortcomings with a strong record in the classroom, where they earned the College Football Association's Academic Achievement Award for the second straight year. The association, an alliance of many big-time football schools (not including those in the Big Ten and Pacific-10 Conferences), presents the award to the member school having the highest percentage of graduating players. Virginia graduated 88.8 percent of financially aided athletes within five years of their 1980 enrollment.
Smallest big-impact players: Texas Tech's Tyrone Thurman, tiniest player in the major-college ranks at 5 ft. 3 in. and 130 lbs., became the first player in 17 years to score on a punt return against Texas, scooting 96 yards. At Colorado, freshman Jeff Campbell, a 5-9, 155-lb. walk-on, quickly won an athletic scholarship after displaying his wares. In the opener, he scampered 17 yards through Colorado State's defense for a touchdown on his first carry. Later he went 39 yards on another end-around in the Buffaloes' shocking upset of Nebraska.