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Is It Time for Iowa State Football to Have a “Ring of Honor”?

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In a time of unprecedented optimism around the program, is it time to remember the past?

Troy Davis Iowa St

The retiring of specific jersey numbers to remember legendary players and coaches is a time-honored tradition among many different sports, but the practice has a special place in football and basketball. At Iowa State, the numbers of seven men and three women are hanging in the rafters of Hilton Coliseum to honor the program’s greatest players. However, the football program has no such system of honoring its own program legends.

Completely retiring a number so it may never be worn again is somewhat rare in college football, mainly due to the fact that football roster sizes are so large, and there are only 99 numbers to go around. Even in a conference like the SEC that boasts a tremendous amount of college football legends, only 32 jerseys are completely retired, and 14 of those are by Missouri and Tennessee alone. Kentucky has retired 34 numbers, but they’re still available to be used. Alabama hasn’t retired a single jersey number in their entire history.

What most schools elect to do instead of completely retiring a number is to label them as “revered,” and place them in their “Ring of Honor” (or whatever they want to call it). Those jerseys can then still be used by players, but they often carry with them a certain requirement or a specific honor. For instance, Texas A&M awards the #12 jersey to the most outstanding walk-on player. LSU awards the #18 jersey to the player which best exemplifies the program’s desired conduct on and off the field.

Currently, Iowa State has exactly one number retired, Mike Cox’s #30, whom then-head coach Clay Stapleton said “represented the finest characteristics of a true student-athlete.” Here are a few of our propositions for numbers worthy of our own “Ring of Honor,” as well as any special honors or requirements for the player that is offered that jersey number.

#1 - Todd Blythe

Prior to Allen Lazard, Todd Blythe owned virtually every Cyclone receiving record at Iowa State, besides receptions, and was largely considered to be the greatest receiver to ever don the cardinal and gold. His 31 career touchdown receptions is still tops in school history, and his 4 touchdown against Texas A&M in 2005 still stands as the single game record.

#5 - Allen Lazard

The greatest receiver in Cyclone history. Period. If he hadn’t played on two terrible teams with terrible coordinators in his first two season, he would own essentially every single school receiving record. This is a no-brainer.

#7 - Bret Meyer, Joel Lanning

As the quarterback for Todd Blythe, Bret Meyer left Iowa State’s all time leading passer in yardage and touchdowns, and still owns both of those records. His 12 career rushing touchdowns, combined with his 50 career passing touchdowns, also gives him the school record for career total touchdowns.

We all know the story with Joel Lanning.

The #7 would be offered to the player that best exemplifies leadership on and off the field.

#12 - George Amundson

Originally recruited to play quarterback for Johnny Majors, George Amundson actually played running back in his junior season, rushing for over 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns while guiding the team to the 1971 Sun Bowl. In his senior season, he switched back to quarterback and became the first Cyclone ever to top 2,000 all-purpose yards in one season. Amundson lettered three times in football and four times in track & field before being drafted 14th overall by the Houston Oilers in 1973.

#15 - Seneca Wallace

Seneca is Seneca. The most electric player to ever put an Iowa State uniform, Wallace was thought by many to be the front runner for the Heisman in the middle of the 2002 season, and went on to have a long, productive career as a backup quarterback in the NFL. In just two seasons, Seneca recorded a remarkable 41 touchdowns, and looked good doing it.

#27 - Don Griswold

Don Griswold was a key piece of the Iowa State backfield from 1938-1940. After graduation, the Clarinda native joined the Navy. During the Battle of Midway’s last day, he and his radioman-gunner Kenneth Bunch scored a hit on a Japanese ship, before being shot down by anti-aircraft fire near Midway Atoll. The duo were posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their efforts, and Griswold had a destroyer named after him.

#28 - Troy and Darren Davis

The Davis brothers are statistically the two best running backs to ever pass through Ames. Troy was a Heisman runner up, rushed for back-to-back 2,000 yard seasons, and is the school’s all-time leader in rushing yardage and touchdowns. His brother Darren left the school as the second all-time leading rusher in school history.

This is a no-brainer.

#37 - Jack Trice

The namesake for the football stadium and the first black athlete ever at Iowa State. Each year, the player offered the #37 jersey will be the player who most exemplifies Trice’s “I Will” attitude.

#47 - A.J. Klein, Matt Blair

Arguably the two greatest linebackers in the history of the program, Matt Blair and A.J. Klein earned their place in this ring. Matt Blair was a speedy linebacker at Iowa State, and was a two-letter winner and a 1973 All-American before enjoying a successful career with the Minnesota Vikings.

Klein left Iowa State 4th all-time in tackles, and is in the midst of his own successful career, now with the New Orleans Saints after being drafted by the Carolina Panthers. He was one part of an extremely successful linebacker tandem with Jake Knott that led the Cyclone defense to often outperform their talent level, earning Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Big 12 honors in his junior season, and First Team All-Big 12 honors again in his senior season. His four career pick-sixes still ranks first in school history.

#58 - Curtis Bray, Mitchell Meyers

Iowa State strength and conditioning coach Curtis Bray tragically passed away in January of 2014 due to a pulmonary embolism on his way to a meeting. Following his passing, the players honored the #58 jersey, Bray’s number when he played linebacker for Pitt, by offering it to the player that most exemplified courage. Former defensive end Mitchell Meyers was the first to be awarded the jersey after overcoming his battle with leukemia to return to the football and actually play significant snaps.

Currently, nobody on the roster is wearing #58. We think this jersey should be offered when a player shows extraordinary courage when facing a difficult situation, but only in those circumstances.