Johnny Musso: Alabama’s pioneer running back"> Johnny Musso: Alabama's pioneer running back - Touchdown Alabama - Alabama Football
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Johnny Musso: Alabama’s pioneer running back

Patrick “Pat” Trammell, Joe Namath and Kenneth “Ken” Stabler were three marquee quarterbacks at Alabama under head coach Paul Bryant. All three players were members on national championship teams, and two of them (Trammell and Namath), were recognized as All-Americans. Spread offenses with eye candy formations have become the norm in modern-day college football, but it was all ground and pound during the 1960s-70s.

Former Alabama running back Johnny Musso was a pioneer. Harry Gilmer and Tommy Lewis weren’t slouches, but Musso defined the running back position during his tenure.

He appeared in 32 games in three seasons (1969-71), and totaled 2,741 rushing yards with 34 touchdowns on 4.8 yards per carry. 1971 was Musso’s breakout year, as he accounted for 1,088 yards and 16 touchdowns on 5.7 yards per carry in 11 games.

He was a tough runner, but Musso also displayed soft hands as a receiver. He brought in 61 passes for 495 yards and four touchdowns in his career. Musso’s efforts in 1971 helped Alabama capture a Southeastern Conference title with an 11-1 record. He was named a consensus All-American and finished fourth in the Heisman voting, during the 1971 season.

Musso saw action in three bowl games for Alabama, despite not winning a national championship. His career ended with 3,236 yards from scrimmage and 38 touchdowns.

The Chicago Bears selected Musso in the third round (62nd overall pick) of 1972 NFL Draft, but he decided to play in the Canadian Football League first. He became a household name for the BC Lions from 1972-74. Musso recorded 1,029 rushing yards in 1973 and became a West All-Star. He spent a year in the World Football League with the Birmingham Vulcans (1975), prior to playing in the National Football League with the Bears from 1975-77.

Musso’s impact on the University of Alabama and college football itself didn’t go unnoticed. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, and was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. Musso was one of 80 players that Bryant placed in the NFL Draft.

Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like ” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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