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Best in 25 Years Series: Dunsmore is Northwestern's top tight end

Drake Dunsmore
Drake Dunsmore (Getty Images)

It's been 25 years since Northwestern's magical run to the Rose Bowl in 1995 revitalized the program. WildcatReport is celebrating that Silver Anniversary by finding out who's been the best player during that span at each position.

BEST IN 25 YEARS SERIES: QB Dan Persa l RB Justin Jackson l WR D'Wayne Bates

We thought that the battle for best tight end might have been a tight race. But just as he did in the 2010 Outback Bowl, Drake Dunsmore broke through the competition and outran everyone to the end zone.

Dunsmore won more than two-thirds of the vote to easily win the title of best Northwestern tight end -- or superback -- over the last 25 years. He took a commanding 67.9% of the ballots.

Fan favorite Danny Vitale came in second with 27.4% of the votes, while Garrett Dickerson and Cameron Green combined for less than 5% to finish third and fourth, respectively.

Really, the outcome shouldn't be a surprise, though we thought Vitale would have garnered more votes than he did.

After all, Dunsmore virtually owns all of the major tight end receiving records at Northwestern. He has the school marks for catches (143), receiving yards (1,567) and touchdowns (14), as well as the single-season records for receiving yards (522) and TDs (6), in 2011.

Not bad for a two-star 2007 prospect out of Kansas, of all places.

Drake Dunsmore Key Statistics
Catches Yards TDs YPC






Best Year (2011)





* Most all-time for a tight end at Northwestern

BALLOT: Who was the best Northwestern tight end over the last 25 years?

Dunsmore was named first-team All-Big Ten in 2011, the only tight end among the four on the ballot to earn that honor. He also took home the inaugural Kwalik-Clark Tight End of the Year award as the best in the conference that same year.

Beyond numbers, however, Dunsmore also had the big moments that endure in Northwestern's fans memories.

Maybe the best one was his 66-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in the Outback Bowl against Auburn, when he took a little pass from Mike Kafka in the flat, broke a couple tackles and then sprinted down the sideline before running through another tackler at the 10-yard line on his way into the end zone. It's still the longest Northwestern pass play in a bowl game.

Dunsmore's final season, in 2011, produced a couple more indelible feats. He still holds the Northwestern record for most touchdown catches in a single game, when he corralled four against Indiana. He also had a SportsCenter Top Plays-worthy one-handed touchdown stab in the back of the end zone against Penn State.

Just like his father, Pat, Dunsmore wound up getting drafted. He was picked in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, though he never played in a game and retired after one season.

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