Kansas football: Just how great was Gale Sayers with the Jayhawks?

Kansas football (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kansas football (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

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Everyone knows the “Kansas Comet,” but just how great was Gale Sayers during his time with Kansas football?

The greatest player in Kansas football history, Gale Sayers had a legendary career during his time with the Jayhawks. Interestingly, Sayers almost ended up as an Iowa Hawkeye instead.

According to Sayers, he was very interested in playing at Iowa but decided against it when the head coach didn’t have time to meet with him during a campus visit. Let that be a lesson to college coaches everywhere.

During his sophomore year in 1962, Sayers led the Big Eight and was third in the country in rushing yards with 1,125. While 1,125 yards may not be as impressive today it’s important to remember that teams only played 10 regular-season games at the time, instead of 12. To put that into perspective, Pooka Williams rushed for the same amount last year, and he had one more game to do it too.

In 1963 and 1964, Sayers continued to dominate the Big Eight with his elusive running style. He was named a first-team All-American in both years, and also led the Big Eight in rushing yards in 1963 and had the third-most yards in 1964.

Gale Sayers finished his Kansas football career with 2,675 yards and a 6.5 yards per carry average. Since his time with Kansas, Sayers has had his number 48 put into the ring of honor at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, as well as be inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Sayers’ performance with the Jayhawks was good enough to get him drafted by the Chicago Bears with the fourth overall pick in the 1965 NFL draft. He would go on to have a hall of fame career, highlighted by two league rushing titles and five first-team all-pro selections.

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Gale Sayers dominated while in college and in the pros. He’s truly the undisputed greatest Kansas football player of all time. Sayers is the only Jayhawk to be in the college football hall of fame and pro football hall of fame.