We did it. We have officially made it through our SU Top 100 list. To do something like this takes a lot of time and effort. It’s definitely not easy. The staff at Orange Fizz is proud of the list we came up with, but obviously nothing is perfect. So this week, we will be looking back at our work to see where we can improve.
Check out the previous recap articles– “Biggest Snubs,” “Most Underrated,” “Most Overrated,” and “Biggest Surprises.” Now, to wrap up the recap articles and our coverage of the SU Top 100 list is the “Ultimate Unknown.” Each staff member has picked one athlete who made the list that they didn’t know about prior. Meet the players who we just met:
Gill: Jim Nance
We gave Justyn Knight a top-10 slot because he is an individual national champion. I‘m all for that. But then you have to have Nance higher. He won two heavyweight titles in wrestling. If he didn’t wrestle, he’d still make the list for football. Nance’s 1964 season was on par with any runner is SU history, with a program record-tying 13 touchdowns and over 1,000 rushing yards. He then went to the AFL to play for the Boston Patriots and won league freaking MVP in 1966. That landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Jim Brown played a lot of sports well, but Jim Nance might be the one most deserving of the Bo Jackson award.
Thomas: Jim Nance
I’ll admit it, Jim Nance deserves more recognition. In a senior season where he ran for over 1,000 yards, Nance was a force for the Orange. But unfortunately, his career was sandwiched between two of the best running backs to ever play for Syracuse. Nance had the pleasure of following the marvelous Ernie Davis, who won SU’s only Heisman Trophy and sole National Championship. Then, Nance was followed by Larry Csonka, a college and pro Hall of Fame running back in his own right. Nance’s production took off his senior year when he handled the majority of rushes for the Orange. In that 1964 season, SU finished with a 7-4 record, including a Sugar Bowl loss. Nance’s 13 ‘64 touchdowns tied Jim Brown’s single season record and bested Davis’ Heisman season. While he’s known as a runner, maybe he should be remembered as a wrestler. Nance won a heavyweight National Championship in 1963, and added another natty in his senior season.
Brad: Walter Sweeny
Typically when an offensive lineman flies under the radar, he’s doing a good job. Walter Sweeny is the unsung hero of Syracuse football history. The guard opened lanes for Ernie Davis to sprint towards the Heisman Trophy in 1961 and the national championship in 1960. Sweeny especially flies under the radar given his era. Even though he was well respected in the game, and eventually drafted in the first round of the 1963 AFL Draft by the Chargers, there were no statistics from offensive linemen. It’s no surprise that Sweeny was one of the 44 members on SU’s All-Century team in 1989. Without him, the legend of #44 may not be what it is today.
Jaron: Daryl Johnston
Call me young, but before our SU Top 100 list I honestly never knew Daryl Johnston went to Syracuse. I knew the name because of his current TV career, but I didn’t know he was a part of the Orange family, which is unfortunate because the “Moose” was an absolute beast. He was a jack of all trades. He could block among the best of them, as well as catch passes and rack up hundreds of rushing yards in a season. Plus, Johnston played in three bowl games and had a 70-percent winning-percentage. The Moose was on the loose back in the day. I just wish I could have seen it in person.
Matt: Katie Rowan
Katie Rowan was never a name that crossed my mind previous to the construction of this list. At 29 her ability on a lacrosse field is well represented, and for good reason. She was a force with a lacrosse stick in her hand. Rowan finished her career as SU’s all-time leader in points (396) and assists (164). Currently the Head Coach at Wagner, she’s able to continue to grow the game and influence other player’s as she’s the best women’s lacrosse player ever to put on a jersey in the salt city.
Ian: Art Monk
Art Monk could’ve moonlighted as a jazz bassist for all I know. He’s actually cousins with the famous pianist Thelonious Monk. But instead of playing an instrument, he chose to showcase his talents on the gridiron. Monk played from 1976-1979, and still is on the Syracuse top ten in career receptions, receiving yards, and yards per game. He had a lengthy NFL career as well, playing for what is now known as the Washington Football Team for 13 years. Monk is in both the Pro and College Football Hall of Fame. He definitely chose the right profession.
Harrison: Justyn Knight
This should take absolutely nothing away from Knight’s fairly-assigned No. 9 ranking on our list. The guy was an absolute force for Syracuse Track and Field and undeniably one of the best athletes in school history. However, because of the nature of the sport he dominated, his simultaneous, deservingly high ranking makes him our list’s ultimate unknown. All in all, Knight was an amazing competitor and in a sport where widespread notoriety essentially remains inevitably limited.
You can find the full SU Top 100 list by clicking here.