College Days: James Lofton

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


James Lofton
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2003

James Lofton’s speed made him a deep threat receiver. It was a trait that helped him not only become one of the country’s most prolific receivers as a college senior but ultimately earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after 16 NFL seasons.
(Photo: ©Stanford Athletics)
A two-time All-American in the long jump at Stanford, James Lofton mustered a mere 15 total catches during his sophomore and junior seasons. But, his 1977 senior season was a completely different story. A combination of great hands with blazing speed, Lofton hauled in 53 receptions for 931 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He kept his momentum rolling that year by contributing four catches, two of which were touchdowns, in Stanford’s 22-14 win over of the LSU in the Sun Bowl. One of his TD grabs came in spectacular fashion as he made a finger-tip grab for a 49-yard scoring play.

Lofton’s next stage, and his final appearance as a college player, came in the Senior Bowl. He registered 9 catches for 92 yards as the North downed the South 17-14. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
 
“I’m really surprised I won because everybody in this game is an All-American or all-this or all-that. I didn’t expect anything like this,” he stated in his typical humbled fashion and downplaying the fact he just won a car. “I just hope we can all have good careers afterwards.”

His hope soon came true for him. The Green Bay Packers selected Lofton as the sixth overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft. According to Packers scouts, he possessed “all the tools” that would make him successful as a receiver in the National Football League.

It did not take long for their projection to be proven correct. The Packers entered Lofton’s rookie season with a dreadful stretch of five straight seasons at or near the basement of the NFC Central Division. Lofton helped invigorate the team’s offense and is his second regular season pro game gave a glimpse of what was to come. He had three TD catches to help the Pack beat New Orleans and post their first 2-0 start in nearly a decade. Lofton and Green Bay’s hot start reached 6-1. He finished with a team-high 46 catches for 818 yards and 6 TDs that year.

Lofton led the Packers in receiving in all but one of his nine seasons with the team. Today, he remains the franchise’s leader for most 100-yard games (32), ranks second in career receiving yards and third in receptions.

In all he was voted to eight Pro Bowls, seven with Green Bay. His eighth came as a member of the Buffalo Bills when in 1991, at age 35, became the oldest player to record 1,000 yards in a season. Included in that total was a career-high 220 yards in a game.

See James’ Hall of Fame bio>>>

Lofton, James
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