*This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.*
Like the entry about my favorite teams, this is an easy one. There is likely going to be no surprise who is number one on this list, but here is my top five anyway.
5. Kory Sheets - RB - Coach Tiller clashed with him, but I was always a big fan of Purdue's all-time touchdowns leader. He shattered the school record for career touchdowns with 54 total by the time he left in 2008. His total of 48 rushing touchdowns is also a record. All told, he never had a season where he found the end zone less than 10 times. By comparison, Mike Alstott ran for only 39 touchdowns in his career and had 42 total scores to rank second in each category.
Sheets twice had "The Al Bundy" of four touchdowns in one game against Miami (OH) in 2006 and Michigan in 2008. If not for a crowded backfield for most of his career he would have finished as Purdue's all-time leading rusher too. As it is, his total of 3,341 yards rushing is second to Alstott. Only Sheets, Alstott, and Otis Armstrong reached 3,000 yards rushing in their careers. His 2008 season with 16 rushing touchdowns tied the school record set by Tony Butkovich in 1943, while his 1,131 yards that year is fifth overall and just the 8th 1,000 yard rushing season ever at Purdue.
Duck fans remember Mr. Sheets, probably a little too well.
He finished only six carries short of Otis Armstrong's career rushing attempts record. He was able to latch on last season first on the 49ers' practice squad, then the Dolphins' active roster where he had one carry for five yards. He was already Mrs. T-Mill's favorite Purdue player anyway. Now that he is on her Dolphins she likes him even more.
4. Billy Dicken - QB - Dicken is the only one on this list that never played a down in the NFL, but I loved him as a quarterback. Mostly it comes from the way he led that 1997 team to a totally unexpected 9-3 record and Alamo Bowl win. It was the only season in which he was a full-time starter. He made the most of it though, with a first-team all-Big Ten selection and a line of 224 completions, 407 attempts, 3,136 yards, and 21 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. I still think he is one of the forgotten in the Cradle of Quarterbacks, but he went on to have a successful Arena League career.
Who needs the cover of Madden when you have Electronic football?
3. Stu Schweigert - S - Even Joe Tiller liked Stu. I can't remember how many times Stu got in trouble for some off the field incident, yet was punished with only like a 1 quarter suspension or something. That's because he was a ball-hawk and hard hitting safety that was the heart of the defense for four years. No player in Purdue history has more interceptions than Stu's 17. In fact, he shattered the old record of 11, which no one has come close to since. Stu had tied the record by the end of his sophomore season. Even the guys like David Pender, Torri Williams, and Brandon King who were practically four year starters in the secondary like Stu didn't come close.
Stu also ranks in the top ten in tackles with 360 for his career. Stu was twice a first-team all-Big Ten selection and was even a Playboy preseason All-American in 2003. Stu's pro career was varied. He had a successful four year stint in Oakland before being signed as Sean Taylor's replacement in Washington. Unfortunately, his tenure with the Redskins did not last a single game. He was cut during training camp in 2008, then was cut again by the Giants. His last career action came in six games for the Lions during their 0-16 season. He is still trying to make it though, signing with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL for this coming season.
2. Mike Alstott - RB - Alstott is the only non-Tiller era player in this top five, but he is one of the best to ever play in West Lafayette. He remains Purdue's all-time rushing leader with 3,635 yards. His 16 100 yard rushing games is easily a school record. His 39 rushing touchdowns and 42 overall remained a record until Sheets came along. He is Purdue's only three-time team MVP. Unfortunately, he did not get much national exposure because he played on the abysmally bad Colletto-era teams. In fact, he was the lone bright spot of that time.
His final performance in 1995 was one of his most memorable as he flattened Indiana for 264 yards, just 8 short of the single game Purdue record. He also pulled off "The Al Bundy" three times: twice against Minnesota and once against Ball State. One of the biggest tragedies of his career is that he never got to play in a bowl game. Purdue started 4-1-1 behind him in 1994 only to stumble to a 4-5-2 record.
The REAL A-Train. It doesn't stop in Bloomington. Sorry.
Alstott remains the only Boilermaker who has scored a touchdown in a Super Bowl. After being selected in the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft Alstott played his entire pro career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, becoming their all-time touchdowns leader with 71. He played in six Pro Bowls, was named an all-Pro three times, and had his number retired by the Bucs. He stands an outside chance of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and may end up in the College Hall of Fame too.
1. Drew Brees - QB - Really, is anyone surprised? This is man-crush central for Mr. Brees. There is no sense in naming all of his records at Purdue. If it is a passing record there is a good chance he owns it. Even the single season passing yardage record, broken by Curtis Painter, was done in 14 games to Drew's 13 and Painter got it by just two yards. Brees even ranks in the top 15 for career rushing TD's with 14.
His 11,792 passing yards is by far a Big Ten record, finishing 629 yards ahead of Painter. It should be noted that Brees started only 37 games in his Purdue and had a little mop-up action in a few games as a freshman. Painter started 41 games and played in several more. Most of Brees' records are not just Purdue records, but Big Ten records. He even has a few NCAA records such as 83 pass attempts in a single game against Wisconsin in 1998.
So beautiful it makes you want to weep.
More recently, Drew was named Super Bowl MVP, became the third Purdue quarterback to win a Super Bowl, helped revive the city of New Orleans, given millions to charity, and has taken the moniker of "Breesus" in Purdue fandom. If he cured cancer sometime in the near future I wouldn't be surprised. GBI stated that his second son is due in October, meaning he even had the "I just won the Super Bowl, who wants to f*** me" night with Brittany. Tomorrow I plan on meeting him for the first time at his book signing in Lafayette. I may swoon.