Oct 16, 2013 5:46 PM by McNeese State Sports Information
FRISCO, Texas - Buford Jordan, one of the most loved football players in McNeese State history, has been named the Southland Conference's 1980s player of the decade in conjunction with the league's release of the 1980s All-Decade Team on Wednesday as part of its year-long 50th Anniversary commemoration. The team includes outstanding student-athletes from its member institutions from the 1980 season through 1989.
Twelve other former Cowboy standouts join Jordan on the team. They include: Daryl Burkel, Tony Citizen, Lonnie Collins, Robert Davenport, Rusty Guilbeau, Flip Johnson, Glenn Koch, Bret Martin, Keith Ortego, Leonard Smith, Stephen Starring and Don Stump.
A total of 82 former student-athletes make up the 1980s All-Decade Team, including honorees from each of the 12 institutions that were members at some point during the period. The Southland underwent significant changes in membership during the decade, and the league also became an NCAA Division I-AA powerhouse with a national championship, four national title game appearances, and five semifinal playoff games.
"The 1980s define a significant amount of transition for Southland Conference football," league commissioner Tom Burnett said. "However, the league managed significant membership changes in a skillful and strategic manner that kept the sport at a very high competitive level."
In addition to the 13 former student-athletes from McNeese State to be named, the 1980s All-Decade team also includes 12 players from Louisiana-Monroe, which won the 1987 NCAA Division I-AA national championship. Both Arkansas State and North Texas placed 11 members on the All-Decade squad, followed by Louisiana Tech with nine, Stephen F. Austin with eight, Texas-Arlington with six, Northwestern State with five, Texas State with three, Lamar with two, and Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Lafayette with one each.
Jordan was selected as the 1980s player of the decade. A three-time All-Southland first-team selection (1981-82-83), he became the league's first-ever 4,000-yard rusher, and was the Southland's 1981 and 1983 season rushing leader. He was the 1980 Freshman of the Year in the Conference, and followed that with the 1981 Offensive Player of the Year. He also was the Southland's 1981 scoring and all-purpose yardage leader. After initially playing in the USFL, Jordan enjoyed a seven-year career with the NFL's New Orleans Saints.
In 1982, Smith was a first team All-American (AFCA, AP) and earned first team all-SLC honors in '81 and '82. He ended his stellar career with 17 blocked kicks (10 field goals, 3 punts, 4 PATs) that remains an NCAA record. His four blocked field goals in 1981 is also an NCAA record as is his six total blocked kicks during that same season. He was also a member of the 1980 SLC championship team that played in the Independence Bowl in a 16-14 loss to Southern Mississippi. In 1983 Smith became the highest-ever SLC draftee when the St. Louis Cardinals selected him with the 17th pick in the first round. A 9-year NFL veteran with the Cardinals and Buffalo Bills, the defensive back played in Super Bowls XXV and XXVI and in the 1986 Pro Bowl.
Starring earned first team all-SLC honors in 1980 and 1981 and was named the league's offensive player of the year in 1980 when he helped lead the Cowboys to the conference title and the team's third berth in the Independence Bowl in five years. He was a 1983 third round pick by the New England Patriots and played six years in the NFL with New England, Detroit and Tampa Bay and played in Super Bowl XX. He's still the school record holder with 234 yards rushing in a game as a quarterback and is sixth all-time in career total yards.
Ortego lettered from 1981-84 for the Cowboys and was a 1984 all-SLC first team selection while leading the team in receiving in '83 (21-320) and '84 (32-602). He's currently ranked 26th on the school's all-time career pass receptions list with 65 and is 17th with 1,202 career receiving yards. He played three seasons with the Chicago Bears and was a member of the Super Bowl XX championship team and had a part in the famous "Super Bowl Shuffle" music video.
Citizen is one of the best running backs to play for McNeese (1986-89) and is currently ranked No. 3 right behind Jordan on the school's all-time career rushing list with 3,284 yards. He continues to hold the school record with 304 rushing yards in a game, that coming against Prairie View in his freshman season in his freshman season, which at the time, was a NCAA record for freshmen. He was named first team all-SLC in 1989 after he ran for 1,159 yards and led the league in scoring with 15 touchdowns and 92 points. He was also the conference's rushing leader in 1986 with 1,088 yards.
Burckel was named the SLC's defensive player of the year in 1980 and earned first team all-conference honors as a linebacker that same season in leading the Cowboys to the league championship and to the Independence Bowl. He led the team with 104 tackles in '80 and is currently ranked 24th on the team's all-time career tackles list with 214.
Guilbeau earned first team all-Southland honors in 1980 and 1981 and was named the conference's defensive player of the year in '81. He currently ranks fifth on the school all-time career sacks list with 18. Guilbeau led the team in tackles as a senior with 79 stops and was a third round draft pick in the 1982 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He then went on to play six years with the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns.
Wide receiver Johnson was one of the most exciting kick and punt returners in Cowboy history. Johnson earned first team all-league honors in 1986 after he led the league that season in receiving and all-purpose yards. He led the team all four of his years in both kick and punt returns and was the squad leader in receiving in 1986 (63-949). That season Johnson also recorded 1,663 all-purpose yards, a school record at the time. He played two seasons in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills.
Defensive back Davenport was a two-time, first team all-conference selection in 1980 and 1981. He led the team with four pass interceptions in 1980 and had an 85-yard pass interception return against ULM in 1980, the seventh longest interception return in school history.
Stump currently holds five punting records and another kicking record at McNeese. He was a three-time all-SLC selection from 1979-91 and led the team and league in scoring in 1980 with 69 points. He was also the team scoring leader in 1978 (63) and 1979 (69) and ended his career with 237 points scored, eighth best in school history. His career 95.76 PAT percentage ranks as the seventh best in conference history while his 41.5 career punt average is sixth best. School records he currently holds includes longest punt (81 yards), career punting yards (9,751), game average per punt (51.6), season punt average (43.8), career punt average (41.5), Cowboy Stadium field goals made (4).
Offensive lineman Collins earned first team all-Southland honors in 1981, 82 and 83 and just this season was inducted into the McNeese Sports Hall of Fame. Koch, another offensive lineman, was a 1988 first team Sports Network All-American and also earned first team all-conference honors while Martin, was a three-time first team all-conference offensive lineman from 1980-82. Collins, Koch and Martin join James Files as the only four offensive linemen in school history to earn all-conference honors three times.
Pat Collins, who led Louisiana-Monroe from 1982-88, was named the 1980s Southland coach of the decade, accumulating a 52-29-0 overall record and a 26-14-0 league mark during his league tenure. Collins' 1987 team ran off a 13-2 overall mark and 6-0 league record on the way to the NCAA Division I-AA national championship, a 43-42 win over Marshall. His team also shared the 1983 Southland title, and he coached 35 first-team All-Southland players and eight first-team All-Americans.
McNeese State 1980s All-Decade Team Selections
Daryl Burckel, LB
Tony Citizen, RB
Lonnie Collins, OL
Robert Davenport, DB
Rusty Guilbeau, DL
Flip Johnson, WR
Buford Jordan, RB
Glenn Koch, OL
Bret Martin, OL
Keith Ortego, WR
Leonard Smith, DB
Stephen Starring, QB
Don Stump, K/P
1980s Player of the Decade: Buford Jordan