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Greatest Kansas Jayhawks Football Players of All-Time Bracket: Laverne Smith vs L.T. Levine

(7) Lavern Smith vs (10) L.T. Levine

NCAA Football: Western Illinois at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

(7) Laverne Smith

Wichita-raised Laverne Smith may be one of the best running backs at Kansas that you’ve never heard of (or know little about). He even called himself a "forgotten player" in 1991. So let’s go ahead and remedy that right here.

He ran for the Jayhawks from 1973-76. In his college career, he put up 3192 rushing yards, but that may not even be the best part. He did that on only 488 carries, which means his YPC was 6.5. Only two Jayhawks have averaged over 6 yards per carry; the other one is Gale Sayers. Smith’s career numbers for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns still rank fourth (for both) in school history.

Smith was a three-year starter at Kansas and earned first team All-Big 8 recognition in 1974. One of the fastest backs Kansas has ever had, Chuck Woodling once wrote: "For pure speed, he is unsurpassed. Yes, the Wichita native was faster than even Sayers." In addition, his senior year he won Big 8 championship in the 100-meters and 400-meter relay.

He was drafted 99th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1977 NFL Draft. He impressed Steelers coaches right away, but in the 7th game of his rookie year suffered a broken leg - actually a shattered leg, broken in five places. One writer called it a "crushed hip" if that helps clarify the severity of the injury. He was able to rehab the leg, but was looked at as damaged goods, and no team would take a chance on him. His career ended after just those 7 games, and Smith moved back to Wichita and took a job in the aircraft industry.

(10) L.T. Levine

Levine ran for the Jayhawks under Glen Mason from 1992-95. He was a big part of Mason’s 1-2 punch along with June Henley. Levine racked up 2248 yards in his KU career at a 5.3 YPC clip. He finished his Kansas career in the top 10 in career rushing yards and rushing TDs.

He was drafted 235th overall by the Denver Broncos but would never play a snap in a regular season NFL game.

I honestly wish I had more to say about L.T., as I have fond memories of KU football in the mid-’90s, and he was a big part of KU’s offense.


Who was the greater Jayhawk? Register your vote in the comments below.Other matchups can be found here.