DOING IT ALL
Who was the best natural athlete in college football this season? Purdue's Rod (I'll play everywhere) Woodson, a six-foot, 200-pound speed blur, gets our vote. All Woodson did in a memorable farewell to college football on Saturday—a 17-15 upset of Indiana—was star on both sides of the ball. As a cornerback, his normal position, he made seven unassisted tackles (he's the Boilermakers' alltime leading solo tackier with 320), broke up a pass and caused a fumble. Offensively, he rushed 15 times for 97 yards, a Purdue season high, caught three passes and returned three punts and two kickoffs.
Three weeks earlier, lame-duck coach Leon Burtnett had told Woodson, "In the last game, we're going to let you play anywhere you want to play." Saturday was the first time Woodson had played running back, but he had previously caught four passes as a wide receiver. Naturally, the NFL is poised to pounce in the first round of the draft. Pete Brown, director of player personnel for the Bengals, says: "He can cover without using all his speed, so he's under control when he changes directions. The guy is simply physically superior."
Woodson is a three-time Big Ten 55-meter indoor hurdles champ, and Purdue track coach Mike Poehlein says Rod "could have been the No. 1 or No. 2 hurdler in the world and a possible Olympic gold medal winner." The reserved Woodson shrugs when asked about Olympic might-have-beens and says, "I was always the kid who got outrun. By about 10th grade, I started, and everybody else just kind of stopped."
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz on his 4-6 Fighting Irish: "It would be easier to win if they didn't try to win."
Way too often major college players gripe way too much about how tough their sport is. Not Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell, who grew up in Mayo, a small (pop. 4,500) North Florida tobacco-farming town. Says Bell, "You can play 60 minutes of football and you're still not as tired as you are working in a tobacco patch under a hot sun."
It's Heisman time again, so over the weekend we filled in our ballot and mailed it.
Our first choice: Penn State linebacker Shane Conlan, who has been beyond brilliant all season. Without him, the Nittany Lions would not be on any of our minds this year. A bona fide student, Conlan had a 3.54 dean's list average last semester and will graduate in January with a degree in administration of justice. Lions coach Joe Paterno has gone uncharacteristically nuts over Conlan's abilities. As the season progresses, he is playing better than either Oklahoma's Brian Bosworth, whose mouth is off-putting to both us and the NFL, or 'Bama's Cornelius Bennett.
Second choice: Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde. He'll win the trophy, of course, because Heisman voters seem incapable of looking beyond running backs and quarterbacks. However, Testaverde is terrific; you can look it up. Heck, 26-yard out passes? No problem. We just couldn't bring ourselves to vote him first because of his disdain for the academic side of college life. Football is his deal, and he went to Miami to play football. Period. Nice guy, great athlete, a lock to be the No. 1 pick on NFL draft day. But, as we've said before, the winner of the game's premier award should display an interest in books and in earning a degree, as well.