Gale Sayers has made short work of the competition in this tournament so far, eliminating Bud Laughlin (sorry, Bud) an Jon Cornish (sorry, John). Tough draw for those guys. Sayers’ competition this round is Curtis McClinton, who made short work of Brandon McAnderson before having a close contest with Tuxedo Tony Sands.
(1) Gale Sayers
One of the most nationally recognized Jayhawks of all-time, Sayers played three seasons (1962-64) for the Jayhawks (freshmen weren’t eligible until the 1972 season). He was named first team All-Big 8 in each of his three seasons, and first team All-American in his final two seasons. All told at Kansas, he carried the ball 412 times for 2675 yards. For those who struggle with math, that’s 6.5 yards per carry. He added 18 rushing TDs, 35 receptions for 398 yards, and 1 receiving TD. He also returned kicks, getting a huge touchdown in an upset of the Oklahoma Sooners during the 1964 season.
Sayers is still the highest ever Jayhawk taken in the NFL draft, being picked 4th overall in the 1965 by the Chicago Bears. In just seven NFL seasons, Sayers was impressive enough to be named to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1977, the youngest inductee in the Hall’s history. In addition, the Bears retired his #40 in 1994.
Overall, Sayers ran for 4956 yards on 991 carries and 39 rushing TDs. He still owns the overall TD record for a rookie (rushing plus receiving) with 22, most TDs in a game (6), and highest kickoff return average (30.56).
Sayers’ name graces the Ring of Honor at Memorial Stadium. He is the only Jayhawk to be inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
(4) Curtis McClinton
Born in Oklahoma but raised in Wichita, McClinton played for Kansas from 1959-61. He was primarily a blocker, hence, did not put up the stats you might expect for a 4-seed, going for “only” 1377 rushing yards in his KU career. However, he was a 3-time first team All-Conference selection (1959-61) and along with John Hadl led KU to the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl, a huge 33-7 victory over Rice. (Take that, Rice!) An all-around athlete, he also won three Big-8 titles in hurdles during his time at KU.
McClinton was drafted 110th overall by the Dallas Texans (slash future Kansas City Chiefs) of the AFL. He was an immediate star, winning Rookie of the Year in 1962 and running his way to 3124 yards and 18 TDs. His rushing total is still good for 9th in Chiefs history. He also added 1945 career receiving yards.
He is a member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame (and Chiefs Ring of Honor as pictured, may be hard to see) and is in the Ring of Honor at KU’s Memorial Stadium.
Who was the greater Jayhawk? Register your vote in the comments below. Other matchups can be found here.