Born in Berlin Township, New Jersey, Ron Dayne was a prolific high school running back and track and field star. Dayne won state championships for both shot put and discus, and still has the fifth best discus throw by a high school athlete in U.S. history.
While many college coaches wanted him to play fullback, Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez promised him he would be a tailback, which ultimately led to Dayne committing to the Badgers. While at Wisconsin, Dayne was a workhorse, carrying the ball 1,220 times in his four years in Madison. He was a three-time All-American, and his 1,834 yards as a senior earned him the Maxwell Award, as well as Big Ten Player of the Year honors. Dayne also managed to eclipse the all-time rushing record, a feat that Ricky Williams had managed just one year earlier. Dayne’s 6,397 yards is still the NCAA record. While Dayne was tremendous in the regular season, he also was a dominating force on the biggest stage of the game, winning back-to-back Rose Bowl MVP honors.
The New York Giants selected Dayne with the 11th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, where he teamed with star running back Tiki Barber to create the famous “Thunder and Lightning” backfield combination. The two combined for over 1,700 rushing yards, and helped the Giants reach the Super Bowl. After playing for the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans, Dayne decided to leave football after the 2007 season.
Dayne was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.