Ken Willard
No. 40, 20
Position:Fullback
Personal information
Born: (1943-07-14) July 14, 1943 (age 80)
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:219 lb (99 kg)
Career information
High school:Varina (Henrico, Virginia)
College:North Carolina (1962–1964)
NFL draft:1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing attempts:1,622
Rushing yards:6,105
Rushing average:3.8
Rushing touchdowns:45
Receptions:277
Receiving yards:2,184
Receiving touchdowns:17
Player stats at PFR

Kenneth Henderson Willard (born July 14, 1943) is an American former professional football player who was a running back/fullback in the National Football League (NFL), where he was a four-time Pro Bowler with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1960s.

College career

Willard received a football scholarship from the University of North Carolina in 1961 after turning down a $100,000 offer to play baseball for the Boston Red Sox.[1][2] He played for the Tar Heels from 1962 to 1964, where he led the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing yards in 1963 and was named MVP of the same year's Gator Bowl.[3][4] He received All-ACC honors in 1963 and 1964 and was selected to the College Football All-America second-team in 1964.[5]

He was also a member of the UNC baseball team, where he led the ACC in home runs two times[6] and is unofficially credited with the longest home run in Tar Heel history at an estimated 525 feet (160 m).[7]

Professional career

Willard was drafted with the second pick of the 1965 NFL Draft, by the San Francisco 49ers ahead of future NFL Hall of Famers Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. He played nine seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and one with the St. Louis Cardinals. He opted to pass on his eleventh season after two consecutive years of knee injuries in St. Louis.

Willard was a four-time Pro Bowler, selected in 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1969 and scored 45 rushing and 17 receiving touchdowns. His best year was 1968 when he ran for 967 yards and 7 touchdowns. He was a member of the 49ers when the team won the NFC West title in 1970, 1971 and 1972 and with the Cardinals when they won the division title in 1974. On the retirement of Leroy Kelly, Willard became the NFL's active leader in career rushing yards for most of the 1974 season, before being passed by O. J. Simpson in Game 11. He retired with 6,105 rushing yards (then 8th all-time) and 45 rushing touchdowns (tied for 12th).

NFL career statistics

Regular season

Year Team GP GS Att Yds TD Rec Yds TD Fum
1965 SF 14 14 189 778 5 32 253 4 7
1966 SF 14 14 191 763 5 42 351 2 7
1967 SF 13 13 169 510 5 23 242 1 1
1968 SF 14 14 227 967 7 36 232 0 4
1969 SF 14 14 171 557 7 36 326 3 6
1970 SF 14 14 236 789 7 31 259 3 3
1971 SF 14 14 216 855 4 27 202 1 8
1972 SF 14 11 100 345 4 24 131 1 3
1973 SF 14 10 83 366 1 22 160 1 2
1974 STL 7 2 40 175 0 4 28 1 0
Career 132 120 1,622 6,105 45 277 2,184 17 41

Postseason

Year Team GP GS Att Yds TD Rec Yds TD Fum
1970 SF 2 2 40 127 0 3 40 0 2
1971 SF 2 2 25 49 0 2 16 0 0
1974 STL 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career 5 4 66 176 0 5 56 0 2

Honors

In 1985, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and was honored as an ACC Football Legend in 2013.[8]

References

  1. ^ Smith, Sonny (March 19, 1961). "Sonny Smith's Carolina Sports". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Spartanburg, South Carolina. p. C-2. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  2. ^ Mann, Jimmy (September 28, 1964). "A Tar Heel Surrenders Money Bags For Pigskin". St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Florida. p. 3-C. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  3. ^ "Ken Willard College Stats, School, Draft, Gamelog, Splits". Sports Reference. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  4. ^ "North Carolina Guns Down Air Force Eleven, 35–0". Youngstown Vindicator. Youngstown, Ohio. December 29, 1963. pp. D-1, D-4. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  5. ^ Kenneth Willard. Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 14, 2023.
  6. ^ (May 19, 2022). Top 40 UNC football and basketball players of all time: No. 25 - Ken Willard. tarheeltimes.com. Retrieved October 14, 2023.
  7. ^ Brown, Daniel; Craig, Roger (2013). 100 Things 49ers Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die. Triumph Books. p. 80. ISBN 1623682754.
  8. ^ (September 25, 2013). Willard Named An ACC Legend. go heels.com. Retrieved October 15, 2023.