Top 20 Auburn All Time Greatest Athletes
Tracer Rocker, the most decorated Defensive lineman in Auburn history.
I love Auburn athletics – all of Auburn athletics. I’ve often wondered who would I place on my all time top list of athletes in Auburn University history. There have been so many great athletes over the school’s storied 155 year history.
This week, I have compiled a list of my top 20. A lot of times when you see these type of list, they are heavy with names from recent memory. While that’s understandable, that does not do justice to those who have come before.
Some say that the players of 50 or more years ago can not be compared with today’s athlete. Today’s athlete are so much better. However, there is no real way to prove that argument. The one constant is that the stars of the past played and competed against the best of their day just as the stars of today played and competed against the best of their era.
While it may be true that the huge stats of today dwarf the yester-year athlete’s records – some forget that the athletes of the past had to play with inferior equipment and facilities; and football players for example had to play both ways the entire game.
So the athletes from the past may have been closer to true natural athletes since they did not have the aid of trainers, diet regimes, weight and condition coaches, and better equipment/facilities.
Well here’s my list of the top All-Time Auburn Athletes:
20.Ruthie Bolten – An All-SEC basketball player that led the Tigers to three SEC Championships and four NCAA tournaments, including two runner up spots in the final four. She was named to the All-Final Four, All-SEC, and All-Academic SEC teams. She still leads in several statistical categories at Auburn and in 2001 her number was retired by the University.
She went on to become the franchise player for the WNBA’s Monarchs and recently was inducted in to the Women’s National Basketball Hall of Fame.
19.Rowdy Gaines- He was an Auburn swimmer, U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member,Olympic three-time gold medalist, and member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He was a five-time NCAA champion. At one time he held eleven World Records. Most believe he would have been a favorite to win multiple medals at the 1980 Summer Olympics had the United States not boycotted the Moscow games.
18. Jim Pyburn – He played football and baseball at Auburn in the 1950’s. Considered one of the greatest ends to ever to play for the Tigers; Shug Jordan said if he wanted a passing attack, he would just have the ball thrown in Pyburn’s direction. He was an All-American and All-SEC UPI Player of the Year. He led the SEC in receptions and was 5th in the nation his junior year. He was voted the Best Offensive End in the SEC by the league coaches.
In baseball he led the SEC in seven batting categories including a .455 batting average. He left for the major leagues after his junior year, becoming one of the first college players to sign a six figure MLB contract.
17. Zeke Smith – Zeke was a 1958 All-American that won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman. He was a converted Full back that excelled as an Offensive Lineman and as a Linebacker. He played on back to back undefeated teams including the 1957 National Championship Team. Shug Jordan said Smith led the 1958 offensive line to be the best he ever had in his 24 years as Auburn’ Head Coach.
16. Jason Campbell – Led Auburn to an undefeated season in 2004 and was the 2005 Sugar Bowl MVP. He was the 2004 SEC Player of the Year, and the 2004 SEC Championship Game MVP. He threw for 7,373 career passing yards, 45 touchdowns and had a 147.0 QB rating. He was a first round NFL pick.
15. Carnell Williams- Broke the all-time Auburn career record of most rushing attempts with 741 and rushing touchdowns with 45. He is second in rushing yards in school history, behind only Bo Jackson. An All-American in 2004, he had a career rushing total of 3,831 yards. His career total of 5,033 all-purpose yards ranks second in school history.
14. Stan White – Quarterback and captain of Auburn’s 1993 undefeated football team, he was named to Auburn’s Team of the Decade for the 1990’s. He is Auburn’s leader in career passing with 8,016 yards and he threw 40 touchdowns in his career. He started as a freshman and remained the starter until he graduated.
13.Walter Gilbert – A member of The college football Hall of fame is the only 3 time Auburn All-American. He played for the Tigers during the late 30’s; playing center on offense and linebacker on defense. He participated in Auburn’s first two bowl games. Auburn’s distinguished Alumnus award is named in his honor.
12. Dr Ed Dyas – Also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame played at Auburn from 1958-60. He finished fourth for the Heisman Trophy his senior year. He was a star running back, linebacker and kicker. Dyas is widely recognized as one of Auburn’s all-time great players. He set an NCAA record with 13 field goals his senior year and was named the SEC’s top offensive back. He gave up a pro career to attend medical school.
11. Travis Tidwell – He was the first ever NFL first-round draft choice (NY Giants) from Auburn University. He was a center fielder on the Tiger Baseball Team and a two-time All-America quarterback who is one of only two freshmen to ever lead the nation in total offense. He also led the nation in total offense in 1949 and was Auburn’s total offense leader until Pat Sullivan broke the record in 1971. He was voted the SEC MVP in 1949.
10. Charles Barkley – Led the SEC in rebounding three straight years during the 80’s and was selected the SEC Player of the Decade. Both the AP and UPI named him the SEC Player of the Year in 1984. He still holds the Auburn record for career field goal percentage with 62.6 percent. He was an All-American as well as a three time All-AEC selection. Barkley is a member of Auburn’s All-Century team and the University retired his jersey in 2001.
9. Tracey Rocker- The most decorated defensive football player in Auburn history. He was the first SEC player to win both the Outland and Lombardi awards in 1988. A two-time All-American and three-time All-SEC selection he was named the SEC’s Player of the Year during his senior season. His 354 tackles are the most in Auburn history. In 1992 he was voted to Auburn’s team of the century.
8.) Chuck Person – An Auburn and NBA legend, was known as “The Rifleman” for his prolific shooting. He is the all time leader in points scored at Auburn with 2,311 points (a record set before there was a 3 point shot). He also holds the Auburn record for most points scored (747) in a single season. The two time All American provided the leadership that led the Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
He scored in double figures 99 of his last 101 collegiate games. He ranks third on the SEC’s all-time scoring list, second on the SEC’s all-time field goals made (1,017), third on SEC’s all-time field goals attempted (1,809).
7. Jimmy Hitchcock – ‘The Phantom of Union Springs” was Auburn’s first ever All-American in both football and baseball. He led the SEC in scoring in 1932. He played quarterback, running back, punter and led his team in winning the 1932 Southern Conference Championship. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He served as Auburn baseball coach after playing professional baseball. Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park, is named in honor of him and his brother, Billy Hitchcock.
6. Tim Hudson- The most successful baseball player ever at Auburn. He was a consensus All-American, having won All-SEC in 2 positions (outfielder and pitcher), batted .391 with 18 HR, 165 strikeouts, led the nation with the most wins (15), was named the SEC player of the year, and won the baseball equivalent to the Heisman … Rotary Smith Award, (now called the Roger Clemens award) as the National Player of the Year. He is a three time MLB All-star and has had a winning record in each season he’s been in the majors.
5. Pat Sullivan- The 1971 Heisman winner broke school and NCAA records for passing and in 1970 led the NCAA in total offense. In his career, he was responsible for 71 touchdowns (53 passing/18 rushing) to tie the NCAA record. He was part of the greatest tandem in college football history – “Sullivan to Beasley” will forever remain a familiar phrase to the Auburn faithful.
A College Football Hall of Famer and two-time All-American, he finished his college career with 6,284 yards. A consensus First Team All-American, he was the 1970 and 1971 SEC Player of the Year.
4. Harvey Glance – Known around the world as “Mr. Track& Field.” He is arguably the greatest sprinter in the history of the state of Alabama. He was a World-class sprinter, a 16-time All-American, three-time Olympian and 1976 gold medal winner. He was recognized during his career as the fastest man in the world. He still holds several SEC Sprinter records.
3. Cam Newton – I know some are scratching their heads at Cam’s third place ranking. While I agree he was the most dominant college football player in the 2010 season, I can’t bring myself to rank him above the top two all time greats on my list. Cam led Auburn to their second National Championship and won every major college award on his way to being the No. 1 pick in the NFl Draft.
2. Tucker Frederickson – Voted as Auburn’s Player of the century; which really says enough about the athlete that Shug Jordan said was the most complete football player he had ever seen. Jordan said that both he and teammate Jimmy Sidle could have played any position on the field.
He played Full back on offense and Defensive back on defense. In 1964 he won the Jacobs Award as the best blocking back in the SEC and was runner-up for the Heisman. Tucker was the first overall pick in the 1965 NFL draft by the New York Giants.
1. Bo Jackson – No surprise here. Until Clark Kent enrolls at Auburn, Bo Jackson will probably remain the greatest athlete to ever wear orange and blue and quite possibly the greatest athlete to ever play college sports – period. If I have to explain that statement, you need to do some reading up on Bo Jackson.
Sports Ilustrated named the three sport college star the third greatest collegiate athlete in history behind Jackie Robinson (2) and Jim Brown(1). I can’t say I agree with any name being ranked above Bo, much less two names.
I’m sure if you have read this far, you probably have a few different athletes in mind. Okay, lets see your list.
(Honorable mention: Terry Beasley, Cydney Clanton, Reita Clanton, Dameyune Craig,Nick Fairley, James Brooks, Fob James, Shug Jordan, Billy Hitchcock, Ed King, John Mengelt, Mike Mitchel, Ken Rice, Doc Robinson, Carlos Rogers, Greg Olson, Jimmy Phillips, Jimmy Sidle, Jack Stewart, and Frank Thomas).
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