Luther Blue was one of the most dynamic and exciting wide receivers/kickoff returners in the history of the Cyclone football program. Blue capped off his electric Cyclone career (1974-76) by earning first-team all-Big Eight honors and All-America accolades in 1976.
A native of Valdosta, Ga., Blue saw immediate action in his sophomore season under second-year head coach Earle Bruce in 1974, catching 26 passes for a team-high 450 yards. Blue totaled five touchdowns that season, four by air and one on an 83-yard kickoff return that broke open ISU’s 23-18 victory vs. Kansas State. His 32.75 yards per kickoff return average in 1974 ranked second nationally and shattered the school’s season record. The mark still stands as the best in ISU history by over 6.0 yards per return.
Blue never got on track in his junior season when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Oklahoma game. ISU was 4-2 at the time and ended up losing its last five games without Blue’s services. The Cyclones had a healthy Blue in 1976, and ISU was on the verge of becoming a Midwestern power under Bruce. ISU’s offense that year, behind Blue and sophomore running back Dexter Green, was the best in school history. ISU ranked second nationally in total offense behind Michigan, churning out 439.6 yards per game, a total that still ranks No. 1 in the Cyclone record books. ISU finished 8-3 overall and 4-3 in the Big Eight, defeating a pair of nationally ranked opponents (Missouri, Nebraska). Despite being snubbed by the bowl scouts, ISU ended the year ranked 19th nationally by the Associated Press.
The senior wideout’s heroics were single-handedly responsible for a number of victories for ISU in 1976, as Blue led ISU in receiving yards (644) and touchdown catches (5). One play still stands out as one of the greatest moments in Jack Trice Stadium history. ISU was playing host to No. 9 Nebraska in front of over 50,000 raucous Cyclone fans on a brisk late-November day. After the Cornhuskers cut ISU’s lead to 10-7 late in the first quarter, Blue quickly severed the Husker momentum by darting 95 yards on the ensuing kickoff. The kickoff return, which is the third longest in school history, helped propel ISU to a 37-28 upset win and its first victory over the Huskers since 1960.
Blue was named first-team at split end by the Big Eight and earned All-America honors after his outstanding senior season. Blue’s career kickoff return average (26.47) still tops ISU’s record charts. After competing in the Senior Bowl, Blue was picked in the fourth round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He enjoyed a four-year NFL career (1977-80) with the Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles. His best season was in 1978, when he totaled 350 receiving yards and caught two touchdowns.