Jerome Bettis, RB
At the University of Notre Dame, Bettis finished his career with 337 rushing attempts for 1912 yards (5.7 yards per attempt), and made 32 receptions for 429 yards (13.4 yards per reception). In his last game as a junior, a 28-3 win by Notre Dame over Texas A&M in the 1993 Cotton Bowl, he rushed 20 times for 75 yards, including three total touchdowns. In his sophomore year, he set the Notre Dame touchdown record with 20 in one season, with 16 rushing, and 4 receiving (23 total touchdowns including the 1992 Sugar Bowl, a record which still stands). During his tenure at Notre Dame, it was announced on national television that Jerome was the first player besides Raghib "Rocket" Ismail allowed by then coach Lou Holtz to tape his shoes and ankles outside his cleats. Bettis did not graduate from college. He skipped his senior year at Notre Dame to enter the 1993 NFL Draft. He returned to Notre Dame in 1996 when he was having a dispute with the St. Louis Rams and was considering retirement. He took courses in "history, philosophy, marketing and business" totalling a heavy 18 credit class load. He returned to the NFL shortly thereafter, and "he has not returned to Notre Dame to finish the coursework for his degree. Bettis was picked in the first round (10th overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. On July 22, 1993, Bettis signed a three-year $4.625 million contract with a signing bonus in excess of $2 million. As a rookie he flourished under Chuck Knox's ground-oriented offense. He quickly earned the nickname "The Battering Ram" as he rushed for 1,429 yards (2nd in the NFL). Bettis also had an NFL best 79 rushing first downs, an NFL best 38 runs of 10 or more yards, and tied for the league lead with seven 100-yard rushing games despite not becoming the full-time starter until the 6th game of the season. Bettis was named a First-Team All-Pro and Consensus NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and was selected for the NFC's Pro Bowl team in each of his first two seasons with the Rams.