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GAMBLE'S RECORD RAMBLE
Midway through the first quarter of Colgate's homecoming game against William and Mary last Saturday, the Red Raiders' 6 foot, 195-pound senior tailback, Kenny Gamble, took a handoff and plowed into the left side of the line. The play gained one yard and contributed little to Colgate's 19-7 upset victory. But it wasn't just any yard: It was the 5,925th all-purpose (rushing, receiving and runbacks) yard of Gamble's career. It tied the Division I-AA record, held by Pete Mandley, who played at Northern Arizona between 1979 and '83. And nobody, not the old alums or the young undergrads in the stands, seemed to take any notice. Which was just fine with Gamble.
When he broke the record on a six-yard sweep during Colgate's next series, the public address announcer informed the crowd of this feat, and a few people clapped. No one stood up, and no one gave Gamble the ball. That, too, suited Gamble. Indeed, after the play, when Gamble's teammates dared to congratulate him in the huddle, he told them to "shut up."
It was, in fact, a bit of a subpar day for Gamble, whose career average is 178.5 yards per game. Against William and Mary, he gained 143 yards from scrimmage on 31 carries, caught a pass for 14 more and had extended his record to 6,069 yards by game's end. Gamble would never make excuses, but bruised ribs suffered the week before against Bucknell forced coach Fred Dunlap to keep him off both the punt and kickoff receiving teams. In his first two games this season, Gamble had gained 167 yards on returns.
Although he's just 22 and still eight months from becoming a new alum, Gamble went to a pizza parlor after the game and told stories about former classmates who had returned to Colgate for the day. "See that guy over there? He's in law school," Gamble said. "And that guy, he's making a fortune in real estate." That's the way Gamble wants to be talked about when, years from now, they tell stories about him. Not as a guy who gained a few yards but as one who made a lot of bucks.
For someone who doesn't want people to think of him as just a jock, Gamble has done an awful lot to focus attention on his football abilities. He already holds 24 Colgate records. He broke rushing records formerly held by Marv Hubbard, Mark van Eeghen and Rich Erenberg, all of whom went on to the pros. "Records don't mean anything," says Gamble. "These plays aren't designed to go one yard. If they go longer, it's because the plays are working."
While Gamble now minimizes his own athletic achievements, he idolized athletes while he was growing up in a low-income housing development in Holyoke, Mass. "A lot of guys around there were athletes," he says. "Most of them never made it to college sports." After being honored as Western Massachusetts player of the year as a high school senior and doing a year of college prep at a private school to improve his grades, Gamble chose Colgate over Boston University and U Mass. This good fortune gave Dunlap pause. Dunlap says, "I asked my recruiter, 'Do we really have a shot at him? What's wrong with him? Did we lie or cheat?' After I met him, I realized he was just a discerning kid."
Gamble had discerned a school that had produced only one notable black football player, Eugene Robinson, a safety with the Seattle Seahawks. In fact, Colgate hasn't had many black students, period. "I was used to diversity from my high school," says Gamble. "I went to Colgate for the education."
His major is international relations. He has served two financial internships, one of them with Smith Barney on Wall Street, and while he has no doubt he can succeed as a businessman, he would first like to give the NFL a try. Why's that, if he's trying to play down his football prowess? "I don't know another way to earn that much money so soon after school," he says.
To Gamble, it doesn't matter whether he gains riches on a football field or in an office building. Either way—or both—he's bound to be a topic of conversation at many future Colgate homecomings.