The lone star Huskie rides into the sunset

The inaugural season in the Big West has come to a conclusion and as the dust settles, there stands one man.

This one man represents most of what has been positive this season. How fitting that this star survivor of the Big West season be a “Cowboy”.

LeShon Johnson lived up to his expectations and then some this season. He proved to all those who doubted just what he could do and for those who had always supported him, he rewarded them with big numbers.

Johnson has done a lot for NIU and the fans of this program.

Not since Mark Kellar played fullback in 1973, has this university had a player rack up over 1,500 yards on the ground (Kellar had 1,719 yards). Former quarterback Stacey Robinson came close in 1989 with 1,443 but Johnson blew past both those numbers.

In fact the “Cowboy” dusted himself off to find the NIU record books going to print with his name on 16 new records he set.

He amassed Heisman Trophy Winner-like statistics this season. His 1,976 net yards rushing and his 327 carries are the most ever by an NIU player in one season.

Even more noteworthy is the fact that only three other division I-A runningbacks have ever gained more single season yards, Mike Rozier, Marcus Allen and Barry Sanders. It is important to note that while Allen and Sanders played in 11 games, Rozier played in a 12th game in which he gained 205 yards to put him over 2,000.

He has put DeKalb on the map by commanding national attention. He came up 24 yards short of 2,000 and perhaps 24 yards short of a Heisman Trophy. His run at the prestigious award awakened media from coast-to-coast and even brought ESPN to this campus.

All his hard work and all that national attention have earned him a spot on both the Football News and Kodak First Team All-America squads.

His outstanding rushing performances each and every game gave fans something to talk about even if the football team lost. Five times he gained over 200 yards and two of those times he topped the 300 mark.

The Huskies were victorious in three of those five games. It is a wonder what would have been the outcome without those performances. Luckily, the world will never know.

I say luckily because we have been lucky to have such a talented runningback play the lead role in this season’s highlight films.

It is unfortunate that such a walking highlight film will leave here with unfulfilled goals. The losing season and lost opportunity of playing in the Las Vegas Bowl will probably cost him the Heisman.

The “Cowboy” has one more shot to promote his abilities and NIU when he plays in a college all-star game (which one has not yet been “officially” announced) early in 1994.

It is also unfortunate that Johnson accomplished so much at a place he was “stuck” at, perhaps the biggest insult to some of his biggest fans, namely the ones who thought they could thank him for “choosing” to play here.

Thanks for the memories anyway. Good luck in the pros.