The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 4, 1997 - 17A
Wisconsin' s Great Dayne 'is small on words but
BIG on everything else
Great Dayne's greatest
As an 18-year-old true freshman, Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne rewrote
the Wisconsin and NCAA record books. Here is a look at some of his accom-
plishments after just his freshman season - by the numbers.
2,109 - Rushing yards
1,472- Yards by which he eclipsed Wisconsin freshman rushing record
8 - Times he outrushed opposing team by himself
2 - Times he outrushed opposing team by more than 200 yards
5 - Quarters in which he rushed for at least 100 yards
1,066 - Yards after contact
628 - Yards in consecutive games
18 - Most first downs in one game
1 - Pounds heavier than Ohio State linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer, with
whom Dayne shared Big Ten freshman of the year honors last year
By Nic olas J. Cotsonika
Daily Sports Editor
N o one longing to live without
pain would want to lay a hit on
Ron Dayne, Wisconsin tail-
back and Heisman Trophy hopeful, a
round mound who somehow rolls
effortlessly across the ground. His
center of gravity seems to be some-
# ere around his shoelaces, which is
iere, in fact, most would-be tack-
lers end up as Dayne chugs by.
Dayne, a 5-foot-10, 261-pound
mass of muscle who can run 40 yards
in 4.5 seconds, is somewhat of a
physical phenomenon as he begins
his sophomore year as the NCAA's
top returning rusher. Of the NCAA
freshman-record 2,109 yards he
gained in 13 games last season, 1,066,
e after a defender had made con-
Trying to stop the 19-year-old is
"like trying to stop a Mack truck with
a pea shooter," said Hawaii assistant
coach Don Lindsey, whose Rainbows
gave up 339 yards to Dayne last
November. And that's why Dayne will
be watched so closely this season
and could be a
Wolverines visit Madison on Nov. 15.
Dayne is "the best football player
in the country," Wisconsin running
backs coach Brian White said. "He
can simply do things other guys
can't. When he's moving, he's awfully
hard to stop."
If it weren't for Tennessee senior
quarterback Peyton Manning - to
whom the Heisman has already been
ceded in some circles - Dayne
might be the favorite, even though he
opened the season with a disappoint-
ing performance. In the Kickoff
Classic on Aug. 24, he ran for 46
yards on 13 carries in a 34-0 loss to
Syracuse, sputtering behind a weak
offensive line while a fellow Heisman
hopeful, Syracuse junior quarterback
Donovan McNabb, shined.
But memories of last season still
burn brightly. Dayne racked up
records like statistics then, setting 24
at Wisconsin, five nationally and four
in the Big Ten. In addition to topping
the rushing mark that once belonged
to Herschel Walker, Dayne scored 21
touchdowns, also an NCAA record
for a freshman.
He did it with typical speed for a
tailback but with a strength greater
than some of the men trying to
stop him. He can bench-press
more than 350 pounds,
power clean more than
325 and back squat more
than 600. He's a pound
heavier than Ohio State
Andy Katzenmoyer, with
whom he shared last year's
Big Ten freshman of the
year honors and might chal-
lenge next year the NFL's
rule against freshmen and
sophomores entering the
He did it when most
schools never thought he
could make it as a tail-
back. Dayne would not
consider programs like
Penn State and Ohio
State because of their
desire to make him a full-
back, so he went to
Wisconsin with something
to prove. Some saw the raw
power he displayed in the
backfield at Overbrook High School
in Pine Hill, N.J., and wanted to
make him a linebacker.
And he did it without starting until
the Badgers'fifth game.
"When you watch what he did last
year, you realize what special gifts
this young man has," Wisconsin
Coach Barry Alvarez said. "He's so
unique, it draws attention. He basical-
ly carried our football team last year."
Against Minnesota midway
through the season, the Badgers' for-
tunes rested with Dayne. They had
lost four of their previous five games.
The bowl picture was bleak. And
then, a rare thing happened. He
spoke. "Don't be afraid of running.
me out today," Dayne said.
And so the coaches weren't. Dayne
had 19 carries after one quarter, 30
by the half. Dayne right. Dayne left.
Dayne up the middle. Dayne every-
"You tired yet?" White asked him.
"Nope. Give me the ball."
Dayne ended up with 50 carries for
297 yards, three touchdowns and a
thoroughly bolstered reputation. The
week before against Purdue, Dayne
had carried the ball 30 times for 244
yards and two touchdowns, and two
weeks later, Dayne had 41 carries
against Illinois for 289 yards and four
touchdowns. "You just wipe the blood
off your nose and go after him the
next time," former Minnesota Coach
Jim Wacker said.
Dayne deflects praise to his offen-
sive line, which was dominant
enough last season to send four of its
members to NFL training camps.
"When I see holes, I run through
them," Dayne often says. Dayne gave
each man a shirt that read: "0-line,
My Kind of People, My Kind of
The more he is promoted, the less
he seems to speak. Wisconsin has
distributed thousands of posters fea-
turing Dayne, who could become the
first sophomore to win the Heisman
and the first Badger to win it since
Alan Ameche in 1954. Thus, there he
is on glossy paper, surrounded by a
group of dogs, larger than life (a
seemingly impossible feat), labeled
as "Wisconsin's Great Dayne."
"To do my best [and] win a lot of
games, that's my goal," Dayne said.
"I know you have to win before you
can think about any awards."
Even the sexiest of spotlights did-
n't loosen Dayne's tongue earlier this
year. Playboy Magazine brought
together its preseason All-America
team at a Pheonix resort, and Dayne
roomed next to - who else? -
Manning. The two hit it off, enjoying
each other's company so much, they
traded phone numbers as they depart-
ed and pledged to keep in touch.
Prdblem was, Dayne had no phone
during the offseason in Madison,
where he spent nearly his entire sum-
mer training. Didn't want it. Though
he likes Manning and loved the trip,
gabbing and talking afterward would
have been distractions, he said.
But Dayne's lack of loquaciousness
has been mistaken for shyness. Much
like on the field, on which his coach-
es said he made just nine mental
errors last season, Dayne sorts out
the situation before opening up. It
even took him about a month to
warm up to Alvarez.
Every day now, Dayne walks to
Alvarez's office, past what he says is
"just a big trophy," Ameche's
Heisman. Alvarez said he has a "spe-
cial bond" with Dayne. "I'm kind of
partial to great players," Alvarez
laughed. But Alvarez has taken an
almost paternal role with Dayne,
which has been valuable in the face
of the Heisman hype.
Dayne isn't likely to repeat his sta-
tistical performance of last season.
The center of his offensive line now
consists of three redshirt freshmen,
and White expects him to face eight-
and nine-man lines designed to stop
him - every week. Alvarez will rely
more heavily on the passing game, so
gone are the days when Dayne, as he
did last season, would have five 100-
yard quarters and outrush eight
Some players would grumble, but
the way Dayne "handles everything
shows he's a very, very special young
man," Alvarez said. "He's very hum-
ble. Some kids might have a hard
time, but he seems to roll right along
Kind of like he runs.
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WISCONSIN SPORTS INFORMATION
University Housing, a unit of the Division of Student
Affairs, is a non-discriminatory affirmative action employer.
To Benefit Artrain and the
Shelter Association of Washtenaw County
An art sale - open to the public
A variety of matted & framed
prints & posters - ready to hang!
121 S. Division St, Ann Arbor
At the corner of Washington & Division
Across from the Ann Arbor News
Saturday, Sep. 6, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday, Sep. 7, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.