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Archive for Thursday, December 21, 1989

PLESS EARNS BIG EIGHT ALL-DECADE

December 21, 1989

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— Two Heisman and two Outland Award winners, the league's all-time leading receiver and a versatile quarterback who hardly ever lost a game headline the Big Eight Conference all-decade football team of the 1980s.

Selected by a panel of media observers who covered the Big Eight full time, the all-decade team is dominated by the same three schools who dominated most games Oklahoma, Nebraska and Oklahoma State.

Fifty-five players representing all eight schools received votes, and seven were unanimous. Kansas' lone selection was linebacker Willie Pless.

Heading the backfield are Heisman winners Mike Rozier of Nebraska and Barry Sanders, who practically rewrote the NCAA record book in a spectacular junior season at Oklahoma State.

A THIRD running back was Thurman Thomas, who played ahead of Sanders at Oklahoma State for two years and is the Big Eight's No. 2 all-time leading rusher with 4,595 yards.

At quarterback is Turner Gill, a three-time all-Big Eight choice who led the Huskers to three straight conference titles and amassed 4,634 yards in total offense. Another member of that great Nebraska backfield of the early 1980s, wide receiver Irving Fryar, was chosen as kick returner.

At wide receiver is one of the most fluid athletes the Big Eight ever produced, Oklahoma State's Hart Lee Dykes. A first-team All-American in 1988 and three-time member of the all-Big Eight squad, Dykes went into the NFL as the Big Eight's career receiving leader with 3,171 yards.

Oklahoma's Keith Jackson, the first tight end from a wishbone team ever named all-American, was a unanimous choice.

Anchoring the blockers is the only offensive lineman ever named the Big Eight's offensive player of the year. It happened in 1981 for Dave Rimington of Nebraska, who won the Outland Award in 1981 and both the Outland and Lombardi awards in 1982.

THE TACKLES are John Clay of Missouri and Karl Nelson of Iowa State. The guards are Dean Steinkuhler of Nebraska, who won the Outland and Lombardi awards in 1983, and Oklahoma's Anthony Phillips, who was named to an all-Big Eight athlete four times and an all-Big Eight scholar three times.

Larry Roach, who scored 290 points for Oklahoma State, is the place kicker.

The defensive front is represented by tackles Rick Bryan of Oklahoma and Leslie O'Neal of Oklahoma State and Oklahoma noseguard Tony Casillas three consensus all-Americans. The defensive ends are Broderick Thomas of Nebraska and Darrell Reed of Oklahoma. Linebackers are Brian Bosworth of Oklahoma and Pless, a three-time choice as all-Big Eight and the league's all-time leading tackler with more than 600 stops.

MARK MOORE of Oklahoma State, possibly the most feared hitter in the 1980s, was named as one defensive back. The others are Eric McMillan of Missouri, Mickey Pruitt of Colorado and Rickey Dixon of Oklahoma.

The punter is Barry Helton, a two-time all-American from Colorado who holds the conference record with an average of 44.9 yards per punt.

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