Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Ghosts of the Orange Bowl: Don Bosseler
If you grew up in the mid to late 1950s, you probably remember the music of Elvis Presley blaring out of the jukebox at the local soda shop or James Dean lighting up the silver screen and Dwight Eisenhower in the White House. But if you were a University of Miami football fan, chances are Don Bosseler was your hero. If Norman Rockwell had to paint a picture of a football player, it would be Bosseler. At 6'1 and 212 pounds, he was big, muscular and sported a blond crewcut. His nickname was "Bull" and as a fullback, he preferred to run over tacklers rather than go around them.
Like many Hurricane football players at the time, Bosseler was from the Northeast part of the country (Batavia, NY). While there was good high school football played in South Florida, UM head coach Andy Gustafson preferred recruiting players from Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey because the depth of football talent in the Sunshine State wasn't as deep as it is today. From 1953 to 1956, Bosseler was the face of Miami Hurricane football. Before he arrived in Coral Gables, UM had never been ranked in the Associated Press top 10. Bosseler often played his best games against instate rivals Florida and Florida State. When his college career was finished, the Canes were a perfect 7-0 against the Gators and Noles.
During his senior year in 1956, Bosseler set a then UM record with 723 yards rushing on 161 carries and 4 touchdowns. On defense he was also Miami's leading tackler from his linebacker position. The Canes finished the 1956 season ranked 6th in the nation by the Associated Press, marking the first time UM had ever finished in the top 10. Bosseler was chosen first-team All American by the Associated Press and was selected to play in the Senior Bowl where he was named the game's MVP.
Bosseler's football career continued when he was drafted in the first round by the Washington Redskins in 1957. He was the 9th overall pick and the third running back taken in a star-studded draft behind future hall of famers Jim Brown and Paul Hornung. He played all 8 of his NFL seasons with the Redskins and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1959. He finished his career in 1964 with 3,112 career yards rushing and 23 touchdowns.
In 1990 Bosseler was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the University of Miami's Sports Hall of Fame and his name is included in the school's Ring of Honor.