Dayne’s freshman year was especially impressive. He rushed for 2,109 yards on 325 attempts — good for an average of 6.5 yards per attempt. He also scored 21 touchdowns. Dayne’s numbers dropped off a little bit during his sophomore and junior years, but he remained one of the most effective and frequently used tools in the Badgers’ offensive arsenal.The New York Giants selected Ron Dayne with the 11th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft. The Giants saw him as the perfect backfield partner for speedy running back Tiki Barber. Yet Dayne never managed to manifest his skills at the NFL level. During his first season with the Giants, Dayne rushed for just 770 yards on 228 attempts, averaging just 3.4 yards per attempt.
Dayne’s performance — as well as his playing time — dwindled steadily in his following three years with the giants. By the 2004 season, Dayne rushed just 179 yards on 52 attempts.The Giants didn’t resign Dayne, spent the following year with the Denver Broncos, before ending his career with two seasons as a Houston Texan. Though his numbers improved in his final season, they were still nowhere near his college level.During his senior year, Dayne returned to elite form, rushing for 2,034 yards on 337 attempts, while scoring 20 touchdowns. That performance ultimately earned Dayne both the Heisman trophy, as well as the Big Ten Most Valuable Player and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year awards.
Dayne still holds the record for the most rushing yards ever, at 7,125 yards, including his stats from bowl games. Although he was never a flashy player, Dayne’s college career established himself as a true workman — a player who could deliver consistent results as often as he was asked to. Most analysts expected that skillset to make Dayne a reliable bet as an NFL star.Opinions vary as to the reasons for Dayne’s NFL bust. Some commentators claim that Dayne’s numbers at Wisconsin were inflated by a generally lower caliber of competition. Yet the Badgers still played plenty of tough opponents, and Dayne’s numbers were just too good to be written off with an “empty stats” argument.A better explanation of Dayne’s drop off had to do with his weight. Dayne was overweight and in poor shape for most of his NFL career. Hiding that kind of shortcoming becomes a lot harder when you face top-caliber opponents on a weekly basis. Still, Dayne’s failure at the NFL level struck many commentators as surprising.however, proved the unfortunate exception to that rule.