Board Director Emeritus Nominated For College Hall
Today's update is a little different from any I've sent over the past 12 years. It concerns Darrin Nelson, a former member of the Bowl's Board of Directors, but more importantly, the greatest running back ever to play football at Stanford University. Some of you may be more familiar with Toby Gerhart, Stepfan Taylor or (for old-timers) Ernie Nevers. But there wasn't another player who impacted Stanford football, or the game of football, the way Darrin did. I'm writing about this today because, at long last, Darrin has been nominated for the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame. I was the Sports Information Director at Stanford when Darrin was recruited in 1977. Our coach back then was the great Bill Walsh, who was in his first year on the Farm. Darrin was originally recruited as a defensive back, but Bill had promised Darrin's high school coach that he'd give him a few opportunities at running back. I remember the day Bill came down to my office after Darrin's first practice with the offense. "I found my running back," Bill told me, a huge smile on his face. "It's Darrin Nelson. He ran some plays on offense today for the first time, and nobody on our defense has touched him yet." That season, as a freshman, Darrin did what no player in college football had ever done before. He rushed for 1,000 yards and caught 50 passes. In his first game, he took a screen pass about 60 yards for a touchdown, leaving a half-dozen Colorado tacklers grasping at air. He continued to make people miss all year, leading Stanford to a 9-3 record and a victory over LSU in the Sun Bowl. At the end of the season, when I called the NCAA office to ask if Darrin's accomplishments were unprecedented, they said, "We'll have to get back to you." A few weeks later, they confirmed that no one had ever come close to his production as a runner and receiver in one season. He would end up doing it (1,000 yards/50 catches) three times. During his career, Darrin rushed for over 4,000 yards, scored 40 touchdowns, gained an NCAA record 6,885 all-purpose yards and was named first-team All Pac-10 four times. More importantly, he and Bill Walsh changed the game of football. They introduced the West Coast offense, and Darrin created a new prototype for his position...a running back who was equally dangerous as a runner and receiver. Walsh later utilized Roger Craig the same way on his Super Bowl teams. I hope those of you who have a Hall of Fame vote will join me in casting one for Darrin Nelson. No one is more deserving of this honor.