Monday, January 4, 2010

Many Happy Returns

The 2009 NFL regular season ended Sunday with ACU having firmly established itself as Kick Return U.

Cincinnati Bengals rookie RB/KR Bernard Scott (right) finished as the league leader in kickoff return average among those with at least one return per game at 31.5 yards, highlighted by a 96-yard return against the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers that proved to be the game's only touchdown.

Scott's former teammate and fellow rookie, Johnny Knox of the Chicago Bears, wound up third in that category, thanks in part to a 102-yard runback in Detroit on Oct. 4. Fourth-year FS/KR Danieal Manning (kneeling left with Knox), who was first in return average last year, finished ninth in 2009 with four returns of at least 40 yards and a season-long of 59.

Those three players have followed the footsteps of three other former Wildcats right into NFL end zones. Vitamin T. Smith returned one punt and three kickoffs for touchdowns in five standout seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, leading the league in kickoff return average in 1950. Wilbert Montgomery took a kickoff back for a score in his rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1977. And his little brother, Cle, returned a punt for a touchdown for the then-Los Angeles Raiders in 1984.

That's six different players who've scored on kickoff or punt returns and three who've led the league in kickoff return average in the last 60 years from the same small school on a Hill.

We now Return U. to your regularly scheduled blog.

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