The Backstory: When the Arizona State offense takes the field this season, coordinator Mike Norvell will have plenty of weapons to utilize. The Sun Devils boast three impressive running backs, so defenses should not know what's coming.
Today's offenses represent a stark change from college football's past. As late as the 1990s, teams featured one running back that possessed a workhorse mentality. In the 1960s, some of the running backs even took snaps on defense. But few were as versatile as today's Sun Devil legend, who was a threat in all three aspects of the game.
The Player: Charley Taylor (1960-1963)
Imagine Marion Grice taking 20 carries a game, and then playing 40 snaps on the defensive side of the football. It just doesn't add up. Grice could wear down in an instant, and he would split his time at practice between offense and defense. How could Grice possibly grasp either playbook?
Fifty years ago, the 1960s version of Marion Grice did just that. Wearing a maroon 37 on his back, Sun Devil standout Charley Taylor was an all-purpose threat in every sense of the phrase. Taylor took snaps as a running back, a defensive back, and as a kick returner.
Amazingly, Taylor shined in every facet of the game. In 1961, Taylor burst onto the scene as a dynamic wingback who caught 13 passes out of the backfield (a large sum in that era). Taylor amassed 235 yards and averaged more than 18 yards per reception, and his reputation as a playmaker began to take shape.
The following season, Taylor became the go-to man on the goal line, as he led the Sun Devils with eight touchdowns. That year, he also started on defense, where he paced Arizona State with four interceptions.
In 1963, coach Frank Kush found another way to use Taylor's skill set: as a returner. Charley Taylor played mostly offense, but he managed to lead the Sun Devils in punt and kick return yards. After the season, the accolades began rolling in as he was named a First Team All Western Conference halfback, just one year after making the Second Team.
Taylor received invitations to nearly every postseason All-Star game, including the College All-Star Game, where he took home the Game MVP honors.
Though Taylor's overall statistics may not be eye-popping, the recognition he received and his all-purpose exploits show that he was among the most respected players in college football.
Greg Battle: Battle started at Arizona State for four seasons, and led the Sun Devils in tackles during his freshman and senior years. As a senior, Battle accumulated 147 tackles and took home Honorable Mention All-America honors from the Associated Press.
Gerald Riggs: A hybrid running back and fullback, Riggs extended every play with his hard-nosed running style. In 1981, Riggs was honored as an All-Conference player after racking up five career 100-yard rushing efforts.