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The biggest name in Boulder, CO, right now is Deion Sanders as the former Jackson St. coach has rejuvenated a cellar-dwelling program and its fan base upon his arrival as the Buffaloes’ new head football coach.
But another Buffalo made the news last week but didn’t get as much attention as he’s no longer with us. Yet his impact on the program remains strong.
Last week at the 64th annual National Football Foundation (NFF) dinner, 18 players and three coaches were inducted into the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame. The class featured legendary college gridiron names such as LaVar Arrington, Champ Bailey, Marvin Jones and Andrew Luck.
But one name stuck out from the rest- former Colorado Buffalo running back Rashaan Salaam.
Salaam was a legend in Colorado. Over his three-year career, he rushed for 3,057 yards and 33 TDs, the majority of those in his Heisman Trophy-winning junior season in 1994, where he rushed for 2,055 yards and 24 TDs.
Salaam was the most powerful force in college football that season. He led the nation in rushing yards, yards from scrimmage (2,349), points (144), and total TDs (24). He was a Consensus All-American and also won the Doak Walker Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
He was so dominant that he beat out superstars Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter and Alcorn St. legend, Steve McNair for the Heisman.
Salaam was selected by the Bears with the 21st pick in the first round, and he rewarded them with 1,074 yards and 10 TDs in his rookie season.
Although his pro career ended in 1999, his college career was never forgotten.
In 2012, he was inducted into Colorado University’s Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2018, Salaam was posthumously into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.
Rashaan’s mother, Khalada Salaam-Alaji, attended the dinner and spoke on his behalf when he was inducted.
“It means a lot to all of us. It’s so interesting that Rashaan has received so many accolades since he’s been gone,” said Salaam-Alaji. “We had to really prepare ourselves to live without Rashaan being here. But he has received so many wonderful accolades, and this really caps it all. I didn’t know anything about the College Hall of Fame, so I called my son and asked him what are we going to do with all of this. He said, ‘Mama, let’s launch Rashaan’s foundation.’”
In December 2016, Salaam was found dead in a park in Colorado. He was 41. It was a devastating loss for his family at home, at Colorado and for college football fans in general.
But now his career will forever be enshrined in college football’s greatest place.
Congratulations Rashaan and continue to Rest in Peace.
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