Byron Hanspard
Byron Courtnay Hanspard, Sr. (born January 23, 1976) is a running back
Running back
A running back is a gridiron football position, who is typically lined up in the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block.There are usually one or two running...

 who played college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 for the Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech Red Raiders football
Texas Tech Red Raiders football program is a college football team that represents Texas Tech University . The team competes, as a member of the Big 12 Conference, which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association...

. He won the Doak Walker Award
Doak Walker Award
The Doak Walker Award, first awarded in 1990, honors the United States's top college football running back. It is named after the Southern Methodist and Detroit Lions football player Doak Walker...

 as the nation's top running back in 1996. He later played in the NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...



In 1994, Hanspard recorded 761 yards rushing on 173 carries. In the following season, he had 1,374 yards on 248 carries. In 1996, he accumulated 2,084 yards rushing (and a total of 2,276 all-purpose yards). He was one of two running backs to rush for 2,000 yards that year, the other being Troy Davis. However, Hanspard edged out Davis for the Walker Award in part because he played on a winning team. Hanspard also finished sixth in the voting for the 1996 Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...


As of the end of the 1996 season, Hanspard is Texas Tech's all-time leader in career rushing yards (4,219 yards in three seasons) and rushing yards per game. He ranks second in career rushing attempts. He also holds school records for single-season rushing attempts (339 in 1996) and most yards in a single game (287 against Baylor
Baylor Bears football
The Baylor Bears football team represents Baylor University in Division I FBS college football. They are a member of the Big 12 Conference. The team plays its home games at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas.-History:...

 in 1996—one of seven career 200-yard games). He also ranks second in career rushing attempts and is in a four-way tie for seventh in single-season and career touchdowns.

Hanspard announced shortly after the end of the 1996 season that he would give up his last year of eligibility and enter the 1997 NFL Draft
1997 NFL Draft
The 1997 NFL Draft was the procedure by which National Football League teams selected amateur college football players. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. The draft was held April 19–20, 1997. No teams elected to claim any players in the supplemental draft that...

. An ordained Pentecostal minister, he said that he felt the NFL gave him a better opportunity to expand his ministry. However, he later became the source of controversy after it emerged that he had all but abandoned his studies during what turned out to be his last year in school, posting a 0.00 grade point average
Grade (education)
Grades are standardized measurements of varying levels of comprehension within a subject area. Grades can be assigned in letters , as a range , as a number out of a possible total , as descriptors , in percentages, or, as is common in some post-secondary...

 for the 1996 fall semester. In part because of this, Texas Tech withdrew from bowl consideration in 1997.


Hanspard was chosen in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are a member of the South Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

 in the 1997 draft. He was used primarily as a kick returner in his rookie season
1997 NFL season
The 1997 NFL season was the 78th regular season of the National Football League. The Oilers relocated from Houston, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee...

, garnering 1,375 all-purpose yards, including 987 return yards. He also set a team record (since broken) for the longest run from scrimmage—a 77-yard burst against the Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders are a professional American football team based in Oakland, California. They currently play in the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

. He suffered a severe knee injury during training camp in 1998
1998 NFL season
The 1998 NFL season was the 79th regular season of the National Football League.The Tennessee Oilers moved their home games from Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis to Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, still awaiting construction on a new stadium in Nashville.This was the first season that CBS...

 and missed the entire season. He returned in 1999
1999 NFL season
The 1999 NFL season was the 80th regular season of the National Football League. The Cleveland Browns returned to the field for the first time since the 1995 season...

 but was never quite the same. Despite increased playing time due to the loss of Jamal Anderson
Jamal Anderson
Jamal Sharif Anderson is a former American football running back of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the seventh round of the 1994 NFL Draft. He played high school football at El Camino Real High School, where he was named to the CIF Los Angeles City Section...

, he only gained 383 yards on 136 carries.

The Falcons cut him during training camp in 2000
2000 NFL season
The 2000 NFL season was the 81st regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XXXV when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Giants.Week 1 of the season reverted to Labor Day weekend in 2000...

 after he lost a fumble in a preseason game. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a professional American football franchise based in Tampa, Florida, U.S. They are currently members of the Southern Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League – they are the only team in the division not to come from the old NFC West...

but never played a down for them in three years.
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