College Days: Eric Dickerson

Each week throughout the 2013 season, Profootballhof.com recaps the college days of a pro football legend.


Eric Dickerson
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1999

Eric Dickerson was a big time performer during his 11-year career in the National Football League. The running back took the league by storm when he gained a staggering 3,913 yards in his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams including a single-season record of 2,105 yards in 1984. By the time he finally hung up his cleats in 1993, he was the NFL’s second leading rusher of all time.

Eric is one of five Hall of Famers to play at SMU. The others are Raymond Berry, Forrest Gregg, Lamar Hunt and Doak Walker.
Dickerson was just as amazing during his college career. Born and raised in Sealy, Texas, Dickerson was considered the state’s number one recruit and the best running back in the nation coming out of high school in 1979. He gained 2,653 yards as a senior and nearly 6,000 yards during his entire high school career.

Every single major college program salivated at the chance of signing the 6-3, 220 pound runner with sprinter’s speed. Initially the high school All-American was rumored to favor Oklahoma or Texas. At the eleventh hour, however, Southern Methodist University swooped in and charmed the prized back into signing on as a Mustang.

As a freshman, he made a huge splash in his first collegiate game when he ran for 123 yards and 3 TDs to lead SMU to a 35-17 win over Rice. After the strong start, however, Dickerson was slowed by injuries and gained a total of only 477 yards and six TDs that season.

In 1980, a now healthy Dickerson teamed with fellow back Craig James to form the “Pony Express.” Together, the two led the team to an 8-4 record and SMU’s first Bowl appearance since 1968. Dickerson finished his sophomore season with 928 yards and 5 TDs.

As a junior, Dickerson shattered the team’s single-season rushing record when he ran for 1,428 yards and 19 TDs (also a school record). The team finished 10-1 in 1981 but could not appear on television or participate in postseason play because of NCAA rules violations.

Dickerson earned All-American honors as a senior in 1982 when he rushed for 1,617 yards and 17 touchdowns on 232 carries (7.0 yards per carry), helping the Mustangs to an 11-0-1 record and a No. 2 finish in the final Associated Press national rankings. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting as SMU captured the Southwest Conference championship and defeated Pitt, 7-3, in the Cotton Bowl.

The two-time Southwest Conference Player of the Year set numerous school rushing records at SMU, including career yards (4,450), career touchdowns (47), season touchdowns (19 in 1981) and 100-yard games (28).

After John Elway was selected first in the 1983 NFL Draft, Dickerson was an easy choice for the Rams who traded up to the number two overall spot. They quickly signed him to a four-year contract worth $2.2 million. Two years later, Dickerson was recognized as one of the greatest running backs ever to play the game after setting the single-season rushing mark that still stands today.

Eric’s HOF Bio>>>

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