Troy Davis reflects on College Hall of Fame career


Troy Davis played for Iowa State from 1994-96. During his ISU career, Davis rushed for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, becoming the first collegiate player to do so. He was also a finalist for the Heisman Trophy two times.

Ryan Young

Former Iowa State running back Troy Davis is one of the best running backs throughout the history of college football — there is very little doubt to that.

On Friday, Davis added yet another accolade to his impressive resume when it was announced that he was one of 16 players and coaches who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016.

Davis played at Iowa State for three seasons, starting in 1994. During his freshman campaign, Davis played in just nine games and only ran for 187 yards.

But it was his next two seasons that truly defined Davis’ career. In his sophomore season, Davis ran for 2,010 yards and 15 touchdowns — the best in the Big 8 conference — on 345 attempts, the highest in the nation. His performance that season earned him the title of a consensus first team All-American and fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Davis returned his junior season, where he continued to best himself. By the end of the 1996 season, Davis ran for 2,185 yards and 21 touchdowns — the best in the Big 12 — on 402 attempts. He was once again named the a consensus first team All-American and the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

Davis was once again invited to attend the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York that season, but finished in second place.

“I can’t imagine a guy more deserving of this award than Troy Davis,” said former ISU coach Dan McCarney. “What he did against the teams that he did it against and the great defenses that he did it against and the great teams that he did it against — this was not a whole lot of garbage yards that he got when games got out of hand. He was doing it in the first quarter and he was doing it in the fourth quarter. He was doing it no matter who we played.”

Davis decided to forgo his senior season and entered the 1997 NFL draft, where he was drafted in the second round by the New Orleans Saints.

Davis played with the Saints for three seasons before switching to the Canadian Football League, where he racked up five straight 1,000-yard seasons. He was a CFL all-star in 2004 for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where he rushed for 1,628 yards. He played in the CFL for 7 seasons.

And exactly 20 years later, Davis has earned his spot among the college football greats.

“I knew that it was coming sometime soon, but the longer that I was waiting, I was saying, ‘They probably forgot about Troy,’” Davis said. “People would tell me every day, with 2,000 yards back to back, how can’t you get inducted into the Hall of Fame?”

While it may have taken longer than expected for Davis to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he isn’t thinking about that. He just said he’s blessed to be in.

To this day, Davis is still the only player in Division I college football history to run for more than 2,000 yards in a single season twice, something that McCarney said shows how great of a player Davis truly was.

“Another 20 years have passed, and still no one has ever done what he did,” McCarney said. “He was doing it against some really outstanding teams and outstanding defenses. Colorado, Nebraska — national champions — Kansas, Kansas State — those are top-10 teams. He was just an incredible, tough, physical, durable guy who loved playing football.”

Even though Davis never won the Heisman Trophy, he can rest easy knowing that he finally earned the highest level of achievement in all of college football.

“I’m one of those players that did something amazing that nobody ever did,” Davis said. “And once they think about Iowa State, they’re going to think about Troy Davis. But if it wasn’t for coach Dan McCarney, you never know where I’d be at right now. Dan McCarney stuck with me and told me what he was going to do, and that’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m a hall of famer now.”