Cougar Corner | Rueben Mayes Earns His Place in the Hall of Fame

Lew WrightSenior Writer IJuly 29, 2009

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13:  A Washington State Cougars helmet showing the initials of Pat Tillman next to the American flag during the Arizona State Sun Devils against Washington State Cougars Pac-10 game at Sun Devil Stadium/Frank Kush Field on November 13, 2004 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Rueben Mayes was something special during his college days playing football at Washington State.

This evening Mayes will become something special in the history of Washington State Cougar football.

Mayes was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last December. He will be officially enshrined at a ceremony beginning at 5:30pm PST in South Bend, Ind.

The event will be televised on CBS College Sports Network.

In being permanently enshrined, Mayes becomes the first modern era Cougar football player to be so honored.

He is just the third WSU player decorated in the Hall, joining Mel Hein and Glen "Turk" Edwards.

The three Cougar players have company in the Hall as well. Two former great WSU football coaches,Orin "Babe" Hollingbery and Forest "Evy" Evashevski have statues on display along side the icons of college football history.

Mayes terrorized opposing defenses with his slashing running style. He was part of a high-powered Cougar offense that was run by another memorable WSU player, Mark Rypien. Oddly enough, both Cougar greats are Canadian natives.

Few Cougs will forget the great Apple Cup game played in 1985 on the frigid artificial turf of Husky Stadium. The temperature was in the low 20s at game time. Washington was the heavy favorite to roll over WSU.

But you can throw out the odds in an Apple Cup game. The WSU defense was able to stuff a two-point conversion with about two minutes left and win 21-20. Mayes finished that classic Apple Cup with 167 yards rushing.

Wearing crimson and gray, Mayes led the Pac-10 in rushing his junior and senior seasons. WSU has a rich history of great quarterbacks, yet it was Rueben Mayes who was the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in back-to-back years, 1984-85.

A look at what Mayes accomplished on the gridiron tells the story of how he made it into the College Football Hall of Fame:

WSU all-time leading rusher with 3,519 yards
First WSU runner to post back-to-back 1,000 seasons
Held the WSU single season rushing mark of 1,637 for 20 years before Jerome Harrison eclipsed his mark with 1,900 yards in 2005
Set WSU, Pac-10 and NCAA single game rushing mark with 357 against Oregon
Set WSU, Pac-10 and NCAA consecutive game rushing mark with 573 having gone for 216 against Stanford the previous week

Those are some heady numbers for the man from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Mayes went on to a stellar career in the NFL where he was Offensive Rookie of the Year for the New Orleans Saints in 1986. He rushed for 1,353 yards in his first pro season and was named to the Pro Bowl team. Rueben finished his seven-year professional football career with 3,484 yards, 23 touchdowns and a second selection to the Pro Bowl.

Here's a list of the other former college players being enshrined in the ceremony today:

2009 College Football Hall of Fame Inductees
Troy AikmanUCLAQuarterback
Billy CannonLSURunning Back
Jim DombrowskiVirginiaOffensive Tackle
Pat FitzgeraldNorthwesternLinebacker
Wilber MarshallFloridaLinebacker
Randall McDanielArizona StateOffensive Guard
Don McPhersonSyracuseQuarterback
Jay NovacekWyomingTight End
Dave ParksTexas TechSplit End
Ron SimmonsFlorida StateNose Guard
Thurman ThomasOklahoma StateRunning Back
Arnold TuckerArmyQuarterback

Two great coaches will be enshrined tonight as well. Coach John Cooper and Coach Lou Holtz will take their place along side the other great men in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Washington State was quick to honor Rueben Mayes, inducting him into the WSU Hall of Fame in 1993.

Originally published on


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