There was a time when he was mentioned in the same breath with Bell. While at Brinkley (Ark.) High School, Eckwood was named to an All-America backfield that also included Houston's Earl Campbell and Buffalo's Terry Miller. Through the first seven games of his sophomore season at Arkansas, Eckwood ran neck and neck with Bell, then a USC junior, in the race for the NCAA rushing title.
But in the eighth game Eckwood was clipped on a pass play and suffered torn cartilage in his right knee. That finished him for the season, and leg miseries hobbled him for the next two, one of which he spent as a redshirt. Last year Eckwood was mostly a blocking back for Ben Cowins. "Cowins and I had the same rushing average, but I had 78 fewer carries," says Eckwood. However, he was drafted earlier than Cowins, who was cut by Philadelphia before the season.
While Eckwood is readjusting to the football limelight, his wife Valerie is studying mortuary science. Says Eckwood, "She's the one who puts a happy face on you when it's all over."
When it was all over Sunday, all the Bucs were wearing happy faces—and they were very much alive.