Each day leading up to Iowa State’s season opener against South Dakota State, Cyclone Fanatic will check another day off the calendar with a memorable statistic, player or game as part of our Countdown to Kickoff presented by Tailgate Clothing.
Success for Iowa State football wasn’t exactly common during the middle part of last century, but the 1959 and 1960 seasons can certainly be considered outliers behind the perfect running back for Clay Stapleton’s single-wing offense.
Tom Watkins led the Cyclones to back-to-back 7-3 campaigns while earning All-American honors in 1960. The two-time All-Big Eight honoree finished his career with 1,605 yards in three collegiate seasons.
He was the nation’s second-leading rusher in 1959 with 843 yards then capped that by breaking the school’s single-season rushing touchdown record with 10 in 1960.
Watkins went on to play seven seasons in the National Football League and twice led the league in punt return yardage. He was inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002.