This Day in College Football History – April 16th

Steve Emtman (born April 16, 1970) played defensive tackle and defensive end for the Indianapolis Colts, the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Washington Huskies, and was drafted into the NFL as the first overall selection in the 1992 NFL Draft. Emtman was born in Spokane, Washington, grew up in nearby Cheney, and graduated from Cheney High School in 1988. Lightly recruited, he accepted a football scholarship to the University of Washington in Seattle to play for head coach Don James. He redshirted in 1988, but soon became a star as a sophomore on a resurgent defense in 1990. Washington went 10-2 and won the Rose Bowl for the first time in 9 seasons. He was considered the best overall player on the 1991 Husky undefeated national championship team. A consensus All-American, Emtman won the Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, was the Bill Willis Award winner and the UPI Lineman of the Year. He was also named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year during his impressive junior year of 1991. He finished fourth in the ballot for the Heisman Trophy. He was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

He decided to forgo his senior year and declared himself eligible for the 1992 NFL Draft. At 6’4″ and 290 lb , he was the first overall pick, selected by the Indianapolis Colts. His most memorable play was the game-sealing 90-yard interception return for a touchdown as time expired in a 31-20 upset win at the Miami Dolphins in his rookie year. Emtman’s NFL career was marred by injuries. Playing a majority of his games on Astroturf, he finished each of his three seasons with the Colts on the injured reserve list. Nine games into his rookie year, he blew out his left knee. The following season, he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee, an injury that no previous NFL player had ever returned from. In October 1994, he beat the odds and made his comeback at home against the team he had grown up following, the Seattle Seahawks. On his first play, he tackled Chris Warren for a 5-yard loss. However, in the second quarter, he ruptured a disc in his neck in a collision with a teammate. Emtman continued to play, even though after the game, he could not close his fists due to nerve damage from the injury. He managed to play three more weeks until continuing pain forced him to undergo season-ending surgery. He later played for the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins. His playing career ended following the 1997 season at the age of 27.

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