June 30, 2006
Johnny Bright's Football Jersey Number Recognized
DES MOINES, IOWA – Johnny Bright, considered one of the greatest athletes ever to have played in Iowa, received honorable mention by ESPN.com senior writer Ivan Maisel is his listing of the best college football players ever to wear a jersey number.
Bright wore number 43 during his distinguished career in which he led the NCAA in total offense in 1949 and 1950, setting a then NCAA record of 2,400 yards in 1950 for a per-game average of 266.7 which also was an NCAA record.
He also set an NCAA career total offense record of 5,983 yards. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native finish fifth in balloting for the 1951 Heisman Trophy, while also playing in the East-West Shrine All-Star game as well as the Hula Bowl.
Terry Kinard, a defensive back who played at Clemson from 1978-82, was named the best player to wear jersey 43. He led Clemson to the 1981 national championship. Terry Miller, who played tailback at Oklahoma State from 1974-77 ,and Troy Polamalu, who played safety at Southern Cal from 1999-2002, also received honorable mention.
Bright is the only Drake player inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame being recognized in 1984. He also is the only Drake football player to have his jersey number retired.
In celebration of the centennial of collegiate football in 1969, Bright was named as the top Drake football player of all time.Bright set 20 school records at Drake in football, basketball and track.
Drafted No. 1 by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1952, Bright elected to play in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders. He led Edmonton to the Grey Cup championship in 1954, 1955 and 1956 and retired in 1963 as the Eskimos leading rusher with 9,966 yards. He was inducted into the Canadian Foootball League Hall of Fame.
The new football field will be known as “Johnny Bright Field at Drake Stadium” with formal dedication ceremonies planned during a Sept. 30 homecoming game with Morehead State.