To Answer My Own Question:  

Posted by Frazier

So who IS the best fullback in Nebraska history? It's a school renowned for blue collar, hard-hitting guys. People who enjoy delivering a slobberknocker between the tackles. And, who thanks to an innovative running offense, often found surprising amounts of room right up the gut. These are the guys who kept defenses honest by forcing linebackers to look inside. They also opened massive holes, led the play, caught short passes (a necessity with quarterbacks better suited to run than pass) and provided leadership on and off the field. Nebraska is corn-fed offensive linemen, the blackshirts, and fullbacks. So who's the best? Who is number one?

Let's take a look at those who fell just a bit short:

-Cory Schlesinger. He came up huge in the first national title game, and was a stellar performer for a team that almost won 3 titles in a row. He had a rather uneventful pro career, and his college statistics are nothing eye-opening. Still, he gets serious consideration for his ability as a blocker, opening holes for Frazier and Phillips, his excellent hands, and his ability to come up big when it mattered most. He is also renowned for breaking facemasks, which speaks to his strength and intensity, and willingness to give literally everything he had.

-Joel Makovicka. The classic Nebraska walk-on. He came from a small town in Nebraska, and followed in his brother's footsteps by walking on to Nebraska. He ended up as a multiple Academic All-American, and the Nebraska career touchdown leader for the position. He also holds the individual game record for fullbacks, and, of course, has a national title to boot. He averaged over 5 yards/carry, and could be absolutely dominant at times.

-The older folks. This includes guys like Tony and Dick Davis. Two runners with lots of yards, and solid careers, who probably mean more to an older generation. Sorry to show the bias, boys, but I didn't even know you existed until I started doing the homework. Can't give you the award based on some numbers, the Nebraska FB position is about mystique. You guys just don't have it.

So who's #1? It's actually easier than you might expect. It's Tom Rathman, of course.

Rathman not only has the best individual season for any 'Husker FB, with over 800 yds and a staggering 7.5 yds/carry. But he also ended up redefining the position at the pro level. He led all RB's in receptions in the NFL in 1989 with 70, and had 600 yds receiving. His contribution to the success of Roger Craig, Joe Montana and the West Coast offense will never be forgotten. When you say "fullback" a lot of people immediately think of Rathman. Great runner, great hands, solid blocker. He definitively gets the nod from this end. He is the guy you'd want if you had one game, and your life depended on it. While I'd love to give it to Schlesinger, the most clutch, or Makovicka, the most determined, sometimes you have to give it to the guy who was simply the best, most lethal weapon. No matter what you needed him to do, Rathman could do it. Congrats Tom!


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