I’m scanning through my 1991 Signing Day issue of SuperPrep magazine, running my finger down the list of the top 100 recruits in the Far West.
No. 1, Napoleon Kaufman. No. 2, Jamir Miller. No. 3, Rob Johnson. No. 4, Steve Hoffman. Great list so far. I keep going.
There’s Arizona-bound running back Ontiwaun Carter at No. 14. Mario Bates at No. 15. UA coach Dick Tomey scored with lineman Warner Smith at No. 23.
Down the list I go until I near the end, past Mike Burns, Jamal McKenzie …
No Tedy Bruschi.
The too short, too small defensive lineman who played saxophone in the marching band at Roseville High School is now among the giants of the sports, a member of a far more exclusive list — the membership of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Bruschi was announced Tuesday morning as part of the 2013 induction class, joining 11 other former players, including Nebraska quarterback Tommy Frazier, Ohio State lineman Orlando Pace, Florida’s Heisman-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel and Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde.
“I never played college football with this as my goal,” Bruschi said Tuesday at the ceremony to announce the 2013 class.
“My college football career was always about playing hard, doing the best you’ve got, and see how it went. And if you won or our lost, after the game was done, move on to the next game. I never really had any long-term goals of being in this prestigious class.”
Bruschi defied the recruiting expectations from the day he stepped onto Arizona’s campus, starting the first game he played as a true freshman in 1991. His season was cut short by injuries, and he received a medical redshirt before he and Arizona’s Desert Swarm defense emerged in 1992.
Bruschi, a high-energy sackmaster off the edge who worked in perfect tandem with the College Football Hall of Famer Rob Waldrop at defensive tackle, put the joy into those early 1990s defenses. Bruschi was the team’s smiling face, the emotional heart of one of the best defenses in college football history.
“He was crazy fast off the edge,” said former Arizona player Heath Bray, a team captain in 1992.
“It didn’t take a genius to see he had something special as a freshman. He made play after play after play.”
He had 19 sacks in 1993 — more than Arizona has had as a team in each of the past two seasons — and helped the Cats lead the nation in rushing defense (30.1 yards per game).
Bruschi earned second-team All-America honors in 1993, was a consensus All-American in 1994 and a unanimous All-American in 1995.
In his last game — a 31-28 win at Arizona State in 1995 — Bruschi tied the NCAA record of 52 sacks, shared by Alabama’s Derrick Thomas.
Bruschi went on to a storied career with the New England Patriots as a linebacker, winning three Super Bowl titles, earning two All-Pro selections and further inspiring by overcoming a stroke late in his career.
Bruschi, who serves as an NFL analyst for ESPN, is the fourth Arizona player to reach the College Football Hall of Fame. He joins linebacker Ricky Hunley (inducted in 1988), safety Chuck Cecil (2009) and Waldrop (2011). They all arrived at UA within 11 years of each other.
The induction will take place Dec. 10.
From 2007: Bruschi’s book reveals his hero: His wife