(West Lafayette, In.) – Rondale Moore had one of the greatest freshman seasons as a wide receiver in NCAA history. The former 4-star from Trinity High School appeared to be more of 10-star from his first practice, he had 313 all-purpose yards in his first game, breaking the record by one yard previously held by Otis Anderson back in 1972.
He arguably had the best freshman season of anyone in Purdue history. For example, Drew Brees only threw 43 passes his first year, Mike Alstott only had 195 yards rushing and Bob Griese did not even get to play his initial year in 1963 because freshmen weren’t eligible until 1972. Up until last year, Mark Hermann was the leader in the clubhouse with a freshman performance that included 2,453 passing yards and 18TDs but also included 27 interceptions.
Moore has a chance to leave Purdue as one of the greatest of all-time; to be on the Mount Rushmore of Boilermakers. He is only 962 receiving yards away from joining the all-time top ten. A repeat performance of last year would put him in 7th place just behind Greg Orton. If he stays healthy, he will move on from Purdue with all the receiving records.
But what about BR (Before Rondale), who were the greatest Purdue receivers of all time. That is certainly a subjective question as many factors would have to be considered, such as quarterback play, the emphasis on the passing game overall in college football in the recent years, the addition of more games and freshman eligibility, just to name a few.
Purdue owns the Big-10 record book when it comes to all-time receiving yardage, the top three are Boilermakers and Moore will make that four, but who are some of those great wideouts of the past:
John Standeford – The Purdue and Big 10 all-time career receiving yards leader with 3,788. He was a freshman in Drew Brees’ senior year of 2000. In his first collegiate game against Central Michigan, he caught seven passes for 99-yards and a TD. He had three starting QBs in his four-year career; Brees, Brandon Hance and Kyle Orton. Stableford was a model of consistency in his four years, a career highlight was a TD pass from Hance in overtime to beat the Minnesota Gophers on the road.
Taylor Stubblefield – Just a year younger than Standeford, Stubblefield is the Purdue all-time career leader with receptions with 325 (that was the NCAA record but was broken by Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles in 2011). For three seasons, Standeford and Stubblefield were together to form one of the most potent combinations of all time. Stubblefield had a career night in the 2001 against Washington State in the Sun Bowl. He had nine catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns. (Standeford had 12 catches for 103 yards in the same game).
Brian Alford – Alford’s career got off to a slow start, after a redshirt year in 1993, he broke his clavicle in a scrimmage before the season started and missed six games of his freshman year. He overcome the injury and became a touchdown maker. Alford was tailor made for new Head Coach Joe Tillers’ offense in 1997 and he had 63 catches for 1,228 yards and ten TDs. He finished as the all-time TD receptions leader with 31.
Reggie Arnold – Arnold played in a different era, so it is hard to compare his numbers to the other receivers. A speedster from Bartow, Florida, he led the Big Ten in receiving his senior year in 1977 with 44 catches for 840 yards and eight TDs. Four of those TDs came in one game against Iowa.
Larry Burton – Burton was probably the fastest Purdue WR of all time, he was also a member of the 1972 Olympic team as a sprinter. He was an All-American after his senior year in 1974 when he had 38 catches for 702 yards and four TDs. Burton would go on to become a first-round draft pick (7th overall) by the New Orleans Saints in the 1975 NFL Draft.
While that is am impressive list, the player that caught the most famous pass in Purdue history is not found amounts the greats. The 1943 team, arguably the best team of all time, finished undefeated and in the top five. Their final game of the season was for the Old Oaken Bucket and Purdue won 7-0. The lone touchdown on that day was a 20-yard TD pass from Sam Vacanti to Frank Bauman. It would be special to see Moore haul in a TD pass like that to complete an undefeated season, history is waiting.
The Boilermakers open their 2019 season on August 30, 2019 at Nevada.
I have covered local, college and professional sports for 12 Local and Regional Newspapers over the past four years. A lifelong Georgia Bulldog fan (I attended my first game in 1978 when I saw the Dawgs beat Baylor), I love to find the compelling story lines that make the game so great.