Thursday, July 12, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.45 Zeke Gadson

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

45.  Zeke Gadson (1984-87)-  If one were to name the top ten most dominating seasons by a Pitt player, Gadson would have to be high on the list.  He started his Panther career as a running back but after toiling behind the likes of Ironhead Heyward, among others, he was moved to linebacker.  The rest is college football history.

In his only season as a starter, Gadson was turned into a hybrid linebacker/safety who blitzed from all of the field.  The result was an incredible 24.5 sacks in 1987.  The official NCAA record is 22 set by Terrell Suggs at Arizona State, but that's only because the NCAA didn't recognize sacks as an official stat until long after Gadson graduated.  It was believed that Gadson held the unofficial single season NCAA record until the next season when Derrick Thomas of Alabama had 27 sacks.

But Gadson was not just an oddity that rang up sack totals and did nothing else. Besides being a linebacker that was just 6'0" and 210 pounds, he not only totaled 137 tackles and 32.5 tackles for loss on the season, but he also came up big in the Bluebonnet Bowl with 13 tackles and Defensive MVP honors.

Gadson was taken in the 5th round by Buffalo but did not make the team.  He then went to play in the CFL for a brief period of time.

Ultimately, despite one amazing season, he has to be this low on the list because he did really only see time in that one season.  One never knows how it would have effected the program, or his legacy, had the Panthers staff at the time moved him to linebacker earlier.


  1. So, with this being #46... instead of #45..

    The list will be the "Top 51 players" since 1972..

    1. Are you sure you aren't a PSU fan?

      You seem an awful lot like a Nitpickny Lion.

    2. Joe D.,

      Look closely at the list, there is no #47...

      You're welcome!

  2. Gadson had four sacks in the BYU game and five versus Boston College. That '87 team was a QB away from being really good.

  3. PSU report is out...
    states they violated Cleary Act (Fed)...
    NCAA now has what it needs to come down hard... if not the NCAA... the Feds will come down hard on PSU for violating federal law.
    so maybe Johnson will end up at Pitt afterall...
    hopefully Pitt continues to pursue all PSU commits.

    1. Also, how do you keep two coaches on staff that have ties with paterno? If they are serious on gettting their act together then completely clean house. I don't think they are serious. How does the current recruiting class stay thru this.