Janesville fans gather around to take on Dayne
Dayne, the NCAA’s all-time Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) rushing leader, signed hundreds of autographs and posed for an equal number of photographs during Badger Day Janesville here Thursday at Rotary Gardens.
The 31-year-old Dayne still believes he can help an NFL team, but admits he’s not quite in football playing shape right now.
“I’m just trying to get my foot together,” said Dayne, who is rehabbing an injured left ankle. “I’ve been getting calls from some teams, but I’m not ready to go right now. I feel good. I feel like it won’t take me too long to get into football shape.”
Dayne was the proverbial man without a team in 2008, waiting for a franchise to call and request his services. That call never came. The lack of suitors was sort of a surprise after Dayne rushed for 773 yards and scored six touchdowns for the Houston Texans in 2007, arguably the most productive of his seven NFL seasons.
Dayne might be old by NFL running back standards, but he has just 983 career carries on his powerful legs. He has rushed for 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns in what has turned out to be a relatively pedestrian career.
In four years for UW, Dayne carried the ball 1,220 times. He gained 1,863 yards as a freshman, 1,421 as a sophomore, 1,325 as a junior, and 1,834 as a senior. He broke the NCAA record in the final game of the 1999 season against Iowa with a 31-yard run in front of a delirious Camp Randall Stadium crowd that also saw the Badgers clinch the Big Ten title.
Dayne finished his NCAA career with 6,397 rushing yards, breaking the record set the previous year by Ricky Williams of Texas. When the NCAA decided to add bowl game totals to records, Dayne’s final number grew to 7,125 based on the 928 yards he gained in four bowl games, including 246- and 200-yard games in Rose Bowl victories in 1999 and 2000.
A replica of Dayne’s Heisman Trophy sat on the table near the 1999 winner of college football’s most prestigious award.
“I think it’s cool to see all of these people coming out to see me and the other Badger coaches. This is a fun day,” Dayne said.
On a day when Dayne answered all sorts of questions from curious Badger fans, he really had no answer for the biggest question posed to him.
Will Dayne be on an NFL roster at some point during training camp or are his playing career over?
“I really don’t know,” he said.