Greatest Moments

In 1951, SMU legend Kyle Rote did something no other SMU player has done in history when he became the first overall pick in the NFL Draft by the New York Giants. Former Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle said of Rote, "There has probably never been a nicer person to ever play the game. Everyone liked Kyle Rote. Fans liked him, sportswriters liked him, players liked him. He was just a good person and an outstanding football player. There's nothing negative about Kyle Rote. I've never found anyone who dislikes Kyle Rote." Rote's selection as the No. 1 pick in the 1951 NFL Draft places him at No. 44 on our countdown of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.

Rote lettered at SMU from 1948-50 and shared the same backfield with Doak Walker. He was an All-SWC selection in 1949 and 1950. His 44.4-yard punting average in 1949 was the second-highest average in the nation and is the fourth-highest single-season average at SMU.

Because of his toughness and willingness to do whatever was asked of him, he earned the nickname "The Mighty Mustang." That name was never more appropriate than for the 1949 season finale against top ranked Notre Dame. With Walker injured, Rote rushed for 115 yards and completed 10 passes for 146 yards, scoring all of the Mustangs' points in a 27-20 loss. His performance made him a national superstar.

As a senior in 1950 and SMU's feature back, Rote ran for 762 yards, passed for 490 and scored 13 touchdowns. During October of 1950, Rote led the Mustangs to their only No. 1 ranking since the 1935 National Championship team. He was then honored by being placed on the cover of Life Magazine in November. He was an All-America and played in three postseason All-Star games. His 2,049 yards rushing rank eighth on the SMU career list.

In the spring of 1951, the New York Giants made Rote the top pick in the draft. A knee injury forced him to switch to receiver, a position at which he quickly excelled. He was very popular in New York, serving as captain of the Giants for more than a decade. In 11 seasons with the Giants, he caught 300 passes for 4,797 yards and 48 touchdowns. He also rushed 231 times for 871 yards, a 3.8 average, and 4 touchdowns. He retired after the 1961 season and became a sportscaster, serving for several years as an analyst on NBC for college and professional football. During his career, he was also the first elected president of the NFL Players Association. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1964.

"The Mighty Mustang" is without question, one of the greatest players in SMU history. He was a great athlete and an even better man. His son, Kyle Rote, Jr., the former pro soccer star, offered some interesting perspective on his father's life. He said, "To me the most remarkable thing about him from a football standpoint was that he had 14 teammates who named sons after him." Kyle Rote's selection as the No. 1 pick in the 1951 NFL Draft takes its place on our countdown of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.

THE COUNTDOWN
No. 90 :: First School Win (1915)
No. 89 :: Rutledge sets two school records (2003)
No. 88 :: Phillips 100 yard INT (1984)
No. 87 :: McCown completes 19 straight (1999)
No. 86 :: Brownlee kicks 57 yd. field goal (1985)
No. 85 :: Bennett records first career win (2002)
No. 84 :: SMU closes out the Cotton Bowl (1999)
No. 83 :: Ownby Stadium opens (1926)
No. 82 :: James sets SWC record (1982)
No. 81 :: Stewart named All-American (1993)
No. 80 :: Briggs sets new Mustang mark (2002)
No. 79 :: SMU defeats Arkansas 31-9 (1997)
No. 78 :: The 1980 Holiday Bowl (1980)
No. 77 :: Hopkins records 4 INTs (1981)
No. 76 :: Pony Express heads to Japan (1983)
No. 75 :: SMU plays in first ever bowl game (1924)
No. 74 :: Hayden Fry named head coach (1962)
No. 73 :: McIlhenny leads SMU over Baylor (1982)
No. 72 :: Flanigan sets total offense record (1997)
No. 71 :: Bell inducted into CFHOF (1955)
No. 70 :: Dickerson runs wild against A&M (1980)
No. 69 :: Charles breaks freshman record (2001)
No. 68 :: Johnson sets sack record (1999)
No. 67 :: Dupard leads pouding of Texas (1985)
No. 66 :: Sanders named first All-America (1928)
No. 65 :: Rossley breaks reception record (1994)
No. 64 :: First win over Texas (1924)
No. 63 :: Gregg returns to SMU (1988)
No. 62 :: Mann leads SMU over TCU (1926)
No. 61 :: Berry defines excellence (1954)
No. 60 :: Birth of the Mustang Name (1917)
No. 59 :: Ford scores first TD in Ford (2000)
No. 58 :: Wolf sets SWC record (1992)
No. 57 :: Meredith sets SWC record (1957)
No. 56 :: Choate Anchors SMU Defense (1978)
No. 55 :: SMU downs Texas (1965)
No. 54 :: Tolbert leads win over BU (1978)
No. 53 :: SMU downs Texas in Austin (1982)
No. 52 :: Partee kicks win over Baylor (1966)
No. 51 :: Hopkins recovers Pitt fumble (1983)
No. 50 :: Dickerson scores 19 TDs (1981)
No. 49 :: Romo breaks completion record (1990)
No. 48 :: LeVias breaks reception record (1968)
No. 47 :: SMU records 400th win (1997)
No. 46 :: SMU clinches winning season (1997)
No. 45 :: Walker on Life Magazine (1948)
No. 44 :: Rote No. 1 NFL Draft Pick (1951)
No. 43 :: SMU blanks TCU (1966)
No. 42 :: SMU downs UNT on Homecoming (1989)
No. 41 :: SMU RUNS over Razorbacks (1980)
No. 40 :: Richardson sets rushing record (1968)
No. 39 :: Wolf breaks NCAA record (1989)
No. 38 :: SMU downs Arkansas (1984)
No. 37 :: The Decision (1945)
No. 36 :: Doak Walker Day at SMU (1998)
No. 35 :: SMU Upsets A&M (1974)
No. 34 :: SMU Ties Ohio State (1978)
No. 33 :: SMU ties Penn State (1948)
No. 32 :: The Army game (1928)
No. 31 :: The TCU Game (1947)
No. 30 :: SMU comeback against Baylor (1975)
No. 29 :: Hixson leads nation in passing (1968)
No. 28 :: Back to the Cotton Bowl (1949)
No. 27 :: Smith picks off Marino (1983)
No. 26 :: The Aloha Bowl (1984)
No. 25 :: Mustang Mania (1978)
No. 24 :: First SWC Title (1923)
No. 23 :: LeVias Baffles Texas A&M (1966)
No. 22 :: Debut Of The Pony Express (1980)
No. 21 :: Undefeated SMU Beats Texas (1947)
No. 20 :: The Ohio State game (1950)
No. 19 :: Dickerson breaks SWC record (1982)
No. 18 :: Revenge against Houston (1992)
No. 17 :: Tie versus Texas A&M (1994)
No. 16 :: Win over Notre Dame (1951)
No. 15 :: Walker career accolades (1949)
No. 14 :: SMU ranked No. 2 (1982)
No. 13 :: The House That Doak Built
No. 12 :: Bluebonnet Bowl in 1968
No. 11 :: Opening of Ford Stadium (2000)
No. 10 :: The Navy Game (1963)
No. 9 :: Carter's block against Arkansas (1982)
No. 8 :: Miracle on Mockingbird (1989)
No. 7 :: The 1949 Notre Dame Game
No. 6 :: National Champions (1935)
No. 5 :: Signing of Jerry LeVias (1965)
No. 4 :: McIlhenny Cotton Bowl TD (1983)
No. 3 :: The Miracle Man (1982)
No. 2 :: The $85,000 Pass (1935)
No. 1 :: Doak Wins the Heisman (1948)