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Cowboys CTK: Calvin Hill Rushes His Way To #35

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Calvin Hills Rushes His Way To #35 6

There is football happening today. After you scarf the burgers you're grilling and wash them down with some of the best brew you can find, a pigskin will fly high in the air and down into our arms as we have waited far too long for it to return!

Football season is here. That brew tastes a lot better now, doesn't it? The Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers are fine and dandy, but what about our ‘Boys? When are we getting down to business? 35 days. That’s 5 weeks! That’s how long you let milk last in your fridge (or is that only me?) - it’s that close!

Go back to the fridge and grab some cold ones for everybody. We’ve got 5 weeks of waiting to do and we’re going to gather round, give a toast, and listen to a story about the Greatest 35 in Dallas Cowboys History as we continue our Countdown To Kickoff.

The Following Players Have All Worn 35 For The Dallas Cowboys:

  • Tra Battle, CB
  • Robert Chancey, RB
  • Wendell Davis, CB
  • Peter Gent, WR
  • Troy Hambrick, RB
  • Calvin Hill, RB
  • Walt Kowalzyk, FB
  • Scott Laidlaw, RB
  • J.W. Lockett, FB
  • Jason McKie, FB
  • Chuck McSwain, RB
  • Lonyae Miller, RB
  • Jacques Reeves, CB
  • Kevin Scott, RB

If you didn’t know, back when current Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett spent his days on a college campus, he spent those days at Princeton University. He’s one of those edumacated couches. I think that brew is starting to effect me.

Prior to the 1969 NFL Draft nobody figured Ivy League schools to have solid football players, just bookworms. The Dallas Cowboys changed all of that when they took the first Ivy Leaguer ever to be drafted in the first round.

Calvin Hill

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Considered an athlete above all else, the Cowboys wanted to make sure that they used Calvin Hill the right way… so they tried him out at linebacker and tight end.

With Don Perkins retired and a struggling Dan Reeves the Cowboys also found themselves thin at the running back position. They turned to their superstar rookie athlete.

"Hi, Calvin! Want to play running back for the Dallas Cowboys? You know, that position that you played a majority of your college career? That whole linebacker thing, yea that's our bad."

Run, Calvin, Run!

Hill never surrendered the starting running back position once he took it. He immediately became a rookie standout in the NFL, churning his way to 807 yards in his first 9 games. In that ninth game, a contest against the Washington Redskins, Calvin actually hurt his toe while amassing 150 yards.

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys CTK: Calvin Hills Rushes His Way To #35 2

The team would find out over the next two games, in which Hill sat out, that the toe was actually broken. No harm, no foul, Calvin Hill was a man of steel and he just took an injection to his toe so he could play the final two games of the season. It doesn’t get much more hardcore than an injection to the toe.

942 yards, 8 touchdowns, a First-Team All-Pro Selection, a Pro Bowl Selection, and the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award all found themselves attached to Calvin Hill after his rookie year. Welcome to the NFL, young man.

Hill Valley

The Dallas Cowboys drafted another running back in 1970, this one by the name of Duane Thomas. The new guy in town showed some promise and took over the starting role. Calvin found himself bothered by a foot blister in 1970 and was only able to produce 577 yards.

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1971 wasn't too kind to Calvin, either. He tore his ACL against the New York Giants. Medical technology wasn't what it is today and this was initially diagnosed as a sprained knee - can you believe that? Hill tried to return later in the year, but he re-injured his knee while scoring a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game over the Minnesota Vikings.

After wearing out his welcome in Dallas, Duane Thomas found himself traded to the San Diego Chargers to begin the 1972 NFL contest. As it had been his rookie year, the stage was once again set for Calvin Hill to save the running back position for the Dallas Cowboys.

Pro Bowl Bound

Calvin found his rookie form during 1972 as he became the first running back in Dallas Cowboys Franchise History to eclipse 1,000 yards on the ground.

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He followed that up with a career high 1,142 in 1973 and a respectable 844 in 1974. Calvin packed his bags at the end of each of those seasons as he made the trip to the NFL’s Pro Bowl in all three.

#35: Calvin Hill

While only playing 6 seasons in the blue and silver, Calvin Hill certainly made his mark. He put together 5,009 yards and 39 touchdowns, while earning many personal accolades as well as a Super Bowl Ring during the 1971 season.

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IRVING, TX - NOVEMBER 18: Wide receiver Terrell Owens #81 of the Dallas Cowboys talks with Calvin Hill after a 28-23 win against the Washington Redskins at Texas Stadium November 18, 2007 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Calvin Hill is still helping the Cowboys win football games as he serves as a consultant to the team who specializes in working with troubled players. Considering sports in general, Calvin contributed in that department by fathering one of the greatest basketball players we’ve ever seen, Grant Hill.

The Cowboys of the 1970s and the Cowboys of today are far better off due to the services of Calvin Hill. He was a critical element to the elite offense that the Dallas Cowboys possessed in the 1970s, and he is even more critical to our Countdown To Kickoff as he is the Greatest 35 in Dallas Cowboys History.

Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 34 in Dallas Cowboys History is!


Want to share your opinions on who should be featured on our Countdown To Kickoff? Email me at rjochoa@insidethestar.com or Tweet @rjochoa.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys CTK: Calvin Hill Rushes His Way To #35" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Star Blog

2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL's Top 10 Rookies

As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.

It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.

Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.

No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.

Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.

There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.

Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.

Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.



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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.

Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.

They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?

Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.

Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.

Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.

Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.

Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.

This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.

The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.



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Star Blog

3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.

Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.

Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.

Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit

The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.

When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.

Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.

What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.

Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.

Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together

Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.

With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.

Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.

Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.

Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay

Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.

Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.

Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.



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