clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ASU's 50 Best Professional Athletes: No. 10: NFL Hall-of-Famer Curley Culp

We enter the top 10 of our summer countdown by introducing ASU's latest inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It's not often an athlete enjoys the same, if not more, magnitude of success in the professional ranks as in his or her collegiate days.

This was the case for Curley Culp, who followed up an All-American stint with the Arizona State Sun Devils with a Hall-of-Fame career in the NFL, being regarded as one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the sport's history.

Starring under renowned coach Frank Kush, Culp emerged as a First-Team All-WAC and All-American defensive lineman from 1965-67. Culp's time in Tempe, however, is best known for being a two-sport star as he won the NCAA wrestling championship in the heavyweight division in 1967 and earned a trip to the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

Although the Denver Broncos selected Culp with the 31st pick in the second round of the 1968 NFL Draft, the Broncos failed to convert Culp into an offensive lineman and traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs. Culp quickly saw success early in his career, becoming an AFL All-Star in his rookie season and helped the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV in his second year. He later made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 1971.

Perhaps the pinnacle of Culp's career came during his time with the Houston Oilers. In his first full season in Houston's 3-4 defense in 1975, Culp received All-Pro First Teams honors and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award after finishing the season with 11.5 sacks. Culp finished his career with the Detroit Lions in 1981 as a five-time Pro Bowler.

Culp was inducted into Arizona State's Ring of Honor in 2011 and earned the golden ticket to Canton in 2013 as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The National Football Foundation has named its award for Arizona's top defensive lineman after Culp.

Check back tomorrow to see who will be No. 9 on our list of the 50 best professional athletes to come out of Arizona State.