When coaches are looking for players to put at linebacker there are certain characteristics they want in a player. First, they want someone who embodies true strength that can fight off even the biggest opponents. Second, they want a player who is blessed with good speed and quickness so that they can run all over the field. And probably most important of all, they seek someone who is smart, knowledgeable and loves to play the game with the desire to make every tackle. Thus, we have just described one of the greatest linebackers in the history of SMU, Putt Choate. Putt Choate finished his career as the leading tackler in Mustang history. By finishing his career with an astounding 649 tackles, Putt Choate takes his place on our list of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.
From 1975 to 1978, Putt Choate was a force to be reckoned with on the Mustang defense. As a freshman, Choate was able to get used to playing at the college level and made 60 tackles in the process. In 1976, even though he was only a sophomore, first year head coach Ron Meyer asked Choate to be the backbone of the defense. Choate responded by leading the team in tackles with 150. In 1977, Choate once again led the team in tackles, this time racking up 186. However great he had been in his first three seasons, Choate saved his best for his final season on the Hilltop.
During his senior season, Choate spearheaded the Mustangs defense through one of the toughest schedules in school history with three consecutive road games at Florida, Penn State, and Ohio State. He was instrumental in helping SMU push Penn State to the limit. In the end, SMU fell to the Nittany Lions 26-21. Penn State finished the 1978 season No. 1 in the nation with a perfect 11-0 before falling to eventual national champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The following week, he led the Mustangs to a 35-35 tie at Ohio State in front of 87,721 fans, the largest crowd to ever see an SMU game.
His senior season ended with a school record 253 tackles. In his four years, Choate amassed 649 tackles. The closest other Mustang to that total is Gary Moten, who comes in a distant second with 455. Choate has three of the top five seasons for tackles in school history as well as three of the top four single game tackles with a career high of 31 against A&M in 1976. He was honored following his junior and senior seasons as an All-SWC selection.
Putt Choate has gone on to find success after football on the Hilltop. He has become the President and CEO of Choate Irrigation USA, the largest residential and commercial irrigation contractor in the United States. SMU is proud of players like Putt Choate, and hope other players will find similar success. For his efforts as the anchor of the Mustang defense, Putt Choate takes his place on our list of the 90 Greatest Moments in SMU Football History.