Each day, AllHoosiers.com has a new installment in “The Greatest” series that will chronicle some of the top players, teams and performances in Indiana football and basketball history.
The first two top 10 countdowns were basketball topics: the top 10 performances and the top 10 last second shots of all time. In this countdown, we look at the top 10 IU football players of all-time. George Taliaferro was No. 2 yesterday and here is No. 1.
NO. 1 Anthony Thompson
Think of Indiana football and many people think of one name – Anthony Thompson.
Thompson played at IU from 1986-89 and earned first team All-American honors after both his junior and senior seasons.
As a freshman, Thompson rushed for 806 yards on 191 carries and scored five touchdowns. But he was just getting warmed up.
As a sophomore, Thompson had his first 1,000-yard rushing effort with 1,014 yards on 257 carries and scored 12 touchdowns.
His two All-American years, however, were a thing of beauty. As a junior, he ran for 1,686 yards on 355 carries and scored 26 touchdowns. His senior year, he gained even more with 1,793 yards on 358 carries and scored 24 touchdowns.
He is Indiana’s all-time leading rusher with 5,299 yards on 1,161 carries. He scored 67 career touchdowns.
His 67 career touchdowns was a Division I record until 1998 when it was broken by Texas’ Ricky Williams.
He holds Indiana’s all-time record for most rushing yards in a game. Against Wisconsin on Nov. 11, 1989, Thompson rushed for 377 yards on 52 carries. He also had another 200-yard rushing game when he had 216 yards on Oct. 21, 1989 against Minnesota.
Thompson was a two-time Big Ten rushing champion. As a senior, he took home the NCAA rushing and scoring titles. He won several college player of the year honors and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Houston junior quarterback Andre Ware. Ware had 1,079 points to 1,003 points for Thompson in the voting. Ware had 242 first place votes and Thompson had 185.
Thompson was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Thompson is now an associate athletic director at Indiana for engagement, sports performance and sports medicine. He was promoted to that position on May 19 of this year.
Thompson played four years in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams and the Phoenix Cardinals.
So, the No. 1 player on my list was Thompson.
Now, I’ll admit that when I had this conversation with the man who knows as much about IU football as anyone and that’s Mark Deal, he told me he would have had a different No. 1. When I told him I was ranking the top 10 players of all time he had Thompson second on his list. He had Pete Pihos No. 1. So maybe I missed it by one or by several for that matter, but this was my best effort.
So here’s a look back at my top 10.
No. 10 James Hardy
No. 9 Pete Pihos
No. 8 John Tavener
No. 7 Tim Clifford
No. 6 Corby Davis
No. 5 Joe Norman
No. 4 Vaughn Dunbar
No. 3 Antwaan Randle El
No. 2 George Taliaferro
No. 1 Anthony Thompson
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch