Tom Watkins joins teammate Dwight Nichols as the second member of the famed 1959 “Dirty Thirty”
A native of
As a senior in 1960, Watkins was a first-team all-league pick and earned All-America honors after rushing for 688 yards and 10 touchdowns for a team that finished 7-3 overall. He ranked 12th in the nation in rushing yardage in 1960 and his 10 touchdowns broke the single season school record. He was invited to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl, Hula Bowl and the All-American Bowl following his senior campaign and was honored as ISU’s Athlete of the Year.
Watkins continued his football career after graduation, finding his niche as a dependable running back and punt and kickoff returner for three teams (Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers) in the NFL. Watkins played seven seasons in the NFL totaling 1,792 yards rushing, 590 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns. Watkins was utilized primarily as a return specialist, racking up 970 yards in punt returns and 2,510 yards in kickoff returns. He led the league twice in punt return yardage (1963, 1964) and once in kickoff return yardage (1965) as a member of the Lions. He ran back three punts for touchdowns in his NFL career.