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THE TOP 20
September 01, 1980
1. PITT
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September 01, 1980

The Top 20

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Herrmann may not have to pass all that much this year. Purdue can run some, too. But his targets may prove too tempting for him to hand off with any regularity. They include Tight End Dave Young, a 6'6", 242-pounder who led the team last year with 55 catches for 584 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Split End Bart Burrell, Herrmann's high school teammate from Carmel ( Ind.) High. Yet another skillful receiver is Steven Bryant, a transfer from Los Angeles Southwest Community College and the fastest footballer at Purdue since Larry Burton, who also ran the 200-meters in the '72 Olympics.

Herrmann goes into the season with 530 completions in 941 attempts for 6,734 yards and 48 touchdowns—all Big Ten records. What is his 1980 goal? "We still haven't gone to the Rose Bowl," he says. "That's my No. 1 goal."

12. NORTH CAROLINA

He enters his senior year as the NCAA's leading active rusher, with 3,273 yards. In spite of limping through about one-third of every campaign, he has had 1,000-yard seasons in each of his first three years, the only man other than Tony Dorsett to have done so. He has a chance to become the fourth man, after Archie Griffin, Dorsett and Charles White, to pass the 5,000-yard mark. His name? Amos Lawrence. You've never heard of him? Well, around Chapel Hill, Famous Amos is almost as famous for his injuries as his yardage. In the 17 games in which Lawrence was O.K. over the past three years, the Tar Heels were 15-1-1. On Lawrence's gimpy days last year, the team was 1-3-1, which explains why it finished fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference. When Lawrence was going full speed, Carolina was 6-0, and that explains why it played in the Gator Bowl. There the Heels upset Michigan 17-15 as Lawrence rushed for 118 yards.

That occasion marked Carolina's seventh bowl trip of the '70s, not bad for a basketball school. Now the Tar Heels seem bowl-bound again. They are particularly strong in the offensive line, where four of five starters are back to block for Lawrence. Coach Dick Crum calls 6'4", 260-pound Guard Ron Wooten "possibly the best offensive lineman in college football." Another outstanding blocker up front is Tight End Shelton Robinson, who is so effective on running plays that he starts ahead of Mike Chatham, who was All-ACC at the position last year. Chatham, who plays mostly on passing downs, set a Tar Heel record and tied the ACC mark for touchdown catches with eight. At quarterback, Rod Elkins, a sophomore with a strong arm, gained the starting spot when Chuck Sharpe tore the ligaments in his left knee in practice in late August. Soccer-style Kicker Jeff Hayes booted a 53-yard field goal in the spring game, the longest in the 53-year history of Kenan Stadium. Last year Punter Steve Streater averaged 41.2 yards and, as a free safety, tied for the team lead with five interceptions. (His brother Jimmy is the former Tennessee quarterback.)

Overall, the secondary could stand improvement. In the line, North Carolina is tough against the run, particularly on the wide side of the field, which is patrolled by Outside Linebacker Lawrence Taylor. At 237 pounds, Taylor is light on his feet, and Crum claims he ranks with Pittsburgh's Hugh Green. At defensive tackle, 6'5", 270-pound Donnell Thompson sometimes loses interest against weak teams, but in big games—like the '79 victories over South Carolina, Pitt and Michigan—he's a terror. Thompson had seven tackles, including a sack, against the Gamecocks, six solos against the Panthers and eight altogether against the Wolverines. All told, he sacked the opposing quarterback five times last season.

13. TEXAS

During the Sun Bowl festivities in El Paso two years ago, two Texas players, Safety Ricky Churchman and Guard Joe Shearin, contributed to the entertainment at a luncheon with a two-man imitation of the late Elvis Presley doing Heartbreak Hotel. The scene is worth remembering at the start of the new season if only because Coach Fred Akers must feel as though he's taking a walk down Lonely Street when he thinks of Churchman and the seven other defensive starters he will have to replace.

"On defense, we're starting over," says Akers. Gone are the top four defensive ends and top two tackles. Gone from the secondary, along with Churchman, are his All-Southwest Conference mates Derrick Hatchett and Johnnie Johnson. And gone is the unit that held its opponents to 8.2 points and 184.3 yards per game.

But one defensive unit, at least, is set and strong: at linebacker will be junior Bruce Scholtz and returning starters Robin Sendlein and Doug Shankle, who led the team in tackles with 138. Akers says, "They are as good as anyone in the country, and I don't care how young the rest of the unit is; we're always going to compete." Coming from anyone other than Akers, this would seem a case of whistling past the graveyard. But in his three years at Texas, Akers has confounded prophets of doom and guided the Longhorns to a 29-7 record and three bowl berths.

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