The pro scouts
have stopped thinking about O.J.'s statistics—they don't have to anymore—but
some totals and comparisons are worth noting. In only 17 varsity games he has
run for 2,754 yards. No runner in history has gained that much ground in two
full seasons. This season he has gained 1,211 yards and will very likely break
the one-year NCAA rushing record of 1,570. When his achievements are compared
to those of college football's most famous runners, the results are shocking.
One thinks of Red Grange as having been tackled twice, maybe three times,
during his whole Galloping Ghost career at Illinois. Well, Simpson, who is four
inches taller, 37 pounds heavier, and infinitely faster than Grange, gained 800
more yards than Old 77 got in his best season. Next, we remember Michigan's Tom
Harmon as a tearaway runner of the royal order. Old 98. Well, by Simpson's
fourth game this season (the 14th of his major college career), the Trojan had
more yards than Harmon gained in three years. And then there was Glenn Davis
and Doc Blanchard at Army. Old 41 and Old 35, right? Outside and Inside. Well,
Simpson's 1,543 yards last year, counting the Rose Bowl game, came within 119
steps of equaling what Davis and Blanchard got together in 1945, their best
The pro scouts
are not weighing Simpson against ghosts, however, but Simpson against Keyes. It
is interesting that the two have played against six common foes in 1967-68, and
only once did Keyes outshine O.J. That was last year against Michigan State
when Simpson gained 190 yards in 36 carries and scored twice, but Keyes ran for
194 yards in 12 less attempts, caught three passes and threw for a
The other games
went like this:
Dame—Simpson ran for 150 yards and scored three touchdowns. Keyes gained 27
yards, caught nine passes and covered Jim Seymour on defense.
State—Simpson ground out 188 yards on a muddy field. Keyes made 74 yards and
caught five passes. Both USC and Purdue lost.
gained 128 yards and scored twice as USC won. Keyes gained 114 yards but
fumbled once as Purdue lost.
(1968)—Simpson ran for 189 yards, scoring three touchdowns. Keyes gained 96
yards, also scoring three times.
(1968)—Simpson went for 236 yards in 39 carries and scored four touchdowns.
Keyes got 48 yards in 15 tries at Minnesota last Saturday and was visibly
slowed by a knee injury that is nagging, though not serious.
It is these kinds
of performances that establish Simpson as No. 1, period. But consider poor—or
pretty soon not so poor—Leroy. Had he come along at any other time Keyes would
be getting as many raves as a Caesar at the gates of Rome. Twenty-four of the
pro scouts ranked Keyes as No. 2 on their list of choices, and again it must be
remembered that these are men who judge performance, not press clippings.
"If Simpson is a mixture of Brown and Sayers, then Keyes is a combination
of Charley Taylor and Bobby Mitchell," says one scout in summing up Leroy.
"And what's so bad about that?"
It is difficult
to find much wrong with most of the first-round talent available for the draft,
a selection process that is going to have some high-pressure moments. The pro
clubs, regardless of which league they are in, draft in the reverse order of
their won-lost records. At this point the Philadelphia Eagles (0-9-0) have the
first shot at O.J. But because of trades the Los Angeles Rams have three
first-round draft choices. It is known the Rams would give Memorial Coliseum
and throw in Ronald Reagan, too, for O.J., and there is ample speculation that
they might offer all three of their draft picks to the Eagles or whatever team
it is that proves the last indeed come first. After O.J. goes Leroy, but what
will happen then? Here is how the scouts rate the next best choices, and a
little bit of what they think: