Northwestern Football's All-Time Offense

Joe SlowikCorrespondent INovember 9, 2009

Northwestern hasn't historically been a football powerhouse. They went almost 50 years between bowl appearances and haven't won one since the 1949 Rose Bowl.

However, NU has had some impressive players suit up for them that provided some memorable moments, especially in more recent history.

This article honors the best offensive players to play for the Northwestern Wildcats.


Offensive Line

T: Chris Hinton

T: Jack Riley

G: Steve Reid

G: Matt O'Dwyer

C: Alex Sarkisian

Honorable Mention: Zach Strief, Fate Echols, and Jack Cvercko

Chris Hinton had one of the most successful football careers of any Wildcat. After earning All-American honors in 1982, he was selected fourth overall in the 1983 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. He played most of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, making seven Pro Bowls in his 13-year career.

Jack Riley was a key member of the 1930 and 1931 Northwestern teams that went 14-2-1 and shared back-to-back Big Ten titles. He was selected as an All-American in 1931 and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Steve Reid was the only All-American on the 1936 team that won the Big Ten title by going 7-1. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

An All-Big Ten first team selection in 1994, Matt O'Dwyer was selected with the first pick of the second round by the New York Jets in 1995. He went on to have a successful NFL career, playing 10 seasons before retiring in 2004.

Alex Sarkisian is yet another NU lineman that was an All-American (in 1948) and was later selected for the College Football Hall of Fame.



WR: D'Wayne Bates

WR: Richard Buchanan

TE: Edgar Manske

Honorable Mention: Steve Tasker, Lee Gissendaner, and Steve Craig

D'Wayne Bates is Northwestern's career leader in every major receiving category and was a key member of the back-to-back Big Ten championship teams in 1995 and 1996. His statistics may have been even better had he not broken his leg in the first game of the 1997 season. He was selected to the All-Big Ten first team in both 1996 and 1998.

Richard Buchanan owned basically every receiving record at NU before Bates. He was also a two-time All-Big Ten first team selection in 1989 and 1990.

Edgar Manske was an All-American end in 1933. The College Football Hall of Famer went on to play six years in the NFL.


Running Backs

HB: Darnell Autry

FB: Mike Adamle

Honorable Mention: Ron Burton, Damien Anderson, Art Murakowski, and Bob Christian

Halfback was a much more difficult position to select than most of them because of the caliber of candidates. Recent stars like Tyrell Sutton and Jason Wright didn't quite make the honorable mention list. Burton is a College Football Hall of Famer, and Anderson had without a doubt the best season in Northwestern history.

I went with Autry because he was the offensive star during the most successful two-year run in school history. Darnell made the All-Big Ten first team in each of those years and is third on Northwestern's career all-purpose yardage list despite skipping his senior season to join the NFL.

Adamle was an All-American at fullback in 1970 and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection. He is eighth on NU's career rushing list despite getting only 179 carries in his first three years of eligibility.



Otto Graham

Honorable Mention: John "Paddy" Driscoll, Brett Basanez, and Zak Kustok

One could argue that players like Ralph Baker and Ernest Rentner belong here as well, but I didn't know how to properly evaluate them considering they played in an era before there was one designated passer in an offense. Driscoll and Graham made the list because they were successful quarterbacks on the pro level as well.

Otto Graham is easily the most successful athlete in Northwestern history and probably the most famous as well. He was an All-American selection in both basketball and football and owned nearly every Northwestern and Big Ten passing record when he graduated in 1943.

After serving in World War II for two seasons, he joined the Cleveland Browns and continued his success on the gridiron. The team reached the title game in every year of his career, resulting in four American Football League titles and three NFL titles. He led his league in passing yards on five occasions and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL.

Graham is one of only two Wildcats in the NFL Hall of Fame and was selected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.