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THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST
E.M. Swift
August 31, 1987
LEST WE FORGET, THERE IS A LOT MORE TO BEING A TOP COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER NOWADAYS THAN BLITZING AND BLOCKING, RUSHING AND RECEIVING
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August 31, 1987

The Best And The Brightest

LEST WE FORGET, THERE IS A LOT MORE TO BEING A TOP COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER NOWADAYS THAN BLITZING AND BLOCKING, RUSHING AND RECEIVING

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We have another future physician at tight end, Ball State's Ron Duncan. He's a 6'3", 250-pound senior who, in three years, has had just one B—in calculus. The rest were A's. On the field he has caught 87 passes for 924 yards and 6 touchdowns, the longest a 41-yarder. Duncan isn't exactly a burner, running the 40 in a civilized 5.07. "My feet look like they're moving slower than they are," he says.

Duncan, a first-team All-Mid-American Conference tight end, moved to guard—a totally new position—last year for the Purdue game. "We had some injuries," he recalls, "and one of my strong points is blocking. The coaches said, 'Don't worry, don't panic, don't quit the team, this isn't permanent.' " Although he would never admit it to the coaching staff, Duncan enjoyed his stint in the trenches. "It was different. I need to be challenged mentally. That's one of the reasons I want to get into medicine."

We'll pass a lot on our team, and we'll run patterns so complicated that defensive backs will need radar to keep from running into each other at full throttle. We'll hook 'n' lateral, do fly-pattern stop-and-sprint-backs, run trapezoidal routes, even rhombuses. Defensive coordinators will hate us.

One wide receiver is senior Marc Zeno, a sports administration major who took a course last spring in which he worked with Down's syndrome kids. Zeno has most every Tulane pass-catching record of significance; in 33 games he has caught 159 for 2,519 yards—a 15.8-yard average—and 12 touchdowns. This season he needs a very gettable 1,080 yards to pass Ron Sellers of Florida State (1966-68) as the top collegiate receiver of all time. But the Green Wave has won no more than four games in any of the last three seasons, giving Zeno zero notoriety. "I'm not really a deep threat," says the 6'3" 206-pounder. "But the intermediate route across the middle doesn't bother me at all."

We'll throw the bomb to J.D. Brook-hart, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior at Colorado State. A finance-real estate major with a 3.31 GPA, Brookhart made the All-WAC Academic Team last season and was one of the university's star orators in an antidrug and antialcohol speakers program that reached out to area schools and youth camps. A late bloomer in football, Brookhart was lightly recruited out of high school and walked on at BYU, but he didn't get much playing time. He transferred to CSU to be closer to his hometown of Englewood. In the past two seasons he has caught a total of 60 passes for 1,190 yards—a 19.8-yards-per-catch average. That puts him on a pace to break the pass-happy WAC's alltime per-catch mark of 16.1, held by John Jefferson of Arizona State, 1974-77.

If we can't have Superman at quarterback, we'll settle for Clark Kent look-alike Mike Greenfield of Northwestern. An electrical engineering major who spends four nights a week at the library, the bespectacled Greenfield has started 27 straight games for the Wildcats, eight of which have actually been victories. That is no small feat at the Bookworm U of the Big Ten. Greenfield passed and ran for 2,071 yards in total offense last year, third in the Big Ten behind Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Michigan State's Dave Yarema, both of whom have departed. Greenfield's goals this year? "I'd like to get Northwestern some more victories, some more respect, and put us back on the football map," he says. "We do that and the bowl games will follow." Bowl games? Beautiful dreamer, come play for us.

At running back we'll rely heavily on Kenny Gamble, a 6-foot, 193-pound workhorse for Colgate. An international relations major, Gamble is already Colgate's alltime leading rusher (surpassing past and present NFLers Marv Hubbard, Mark van Eeghen and Rich Erin-berg) and has a chance, if he equals last season's performance, to finish as high as second in alltime NCAA career-rushing yardage, behind Tony Dorsett.

In '86, Gamble led Division I-AA with 1,816 yards rushing and, including return yardage and pass receptions, had 2,425 all-purpose yards, the best single season in the division's history. He averaged 165.1 yards rushing per game and 5.9 yards a carry. Gamble also scored 21 touchdowns and now has 270 points in his career, just 38 points less than the I-A A career record. Numbers, numbers. The quality we really like about this guy is his blocking ability. "He's a very physical player, and completely unselfish," says coach Fred Dunlap. "Kenny's admired by everybody on our football team. That's why he's our captain."

Sharing the backfield with Gamble will be Wake Forest's Chip Rives, "the slowest fullback in the ACC," according to his own assessment. He is also the ACC's leading returning scorer, with 12 career touchdowns. Besides, who needs speed when you're being towed by eight tiny reindeer? A fifth-year senior who is pursuing his M.B.A. at Wake Forest's Babcock School of Management, Rives started a Santa's Helper program last year in Winston-Salem that provided Christmas toys to some 45 underprivileged families.

"I got the idea from my mom, who sent me an article about a woman in San Antonio who had done the same thing," says the 6'2", 214-pound Rives, who donned a Santa outfit. "I had about 50 volunteers helping me. We raised more than $3,000, bought the presents and wrapped them, and got a list of needy families through the social services. Classes ended the 16th, and we were delivering until the 23rd. This year we're going to try to double it to 80 or 90 families." We've heard of backs who carry the mail. Rives does them one better.

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