Greatest Wisconsin Badgers of All-Time: No. 33 Paul Gruber

No. 33Paul Gruber, Football

Even in the recent run of Badger football success, top 10 NFL draft picks are a rarity. Now imagine you’re in the mire of the mid-1980’s and the Badger football team doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation (although it was increasing nicely under Don Morton). Somehow tackle Paul Gruber managed to make himself good enough to be the No. 4 pick in the 1988 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While that feat is a good enough reason to have him on the list, Gruber didn’t get there by luck. Instead, Gruber was the key to changing UW’s fortunes in the mid-80’s and that says a lot about the impact one offensive lineman can have.

Gruber was so good that he managed to be an All-Big Ten selection in some shape or form (honorable mention and beyond) for three years. He was an honorable mention pick in 1985, a second-team pick in 1986 (UPI) and a first-team selection in 1987. In the 1987 season, Gruber was named a first team All-American by both the Sporting News and UPI.

Wisconsin had just one 1,000-yard rusher during Gruber’s time, but it wasn’t like UW had amazing running back talent. Only Larry Emery’s 1,113 yards in 1985 made it past that magical mark in college football at the time.

Gruber’s abilities were on display early and often and he may have been the most dominant offensive lineman in the conference by the time he left UW.

He went on to play 12 years in the NFL, all with the Buccaneers, and be named both an all-pro and a Pro Bowler in his career at the professional level. There may not have been a finer offensive lineman to play at Wisconsin, regardless of era and for that he lands nice and high on our list.

Full 50 Greatest Badgers List:

No. 50Randy Jablonic
No. 49Alex Rigsby
No. 48Michael Lihrman
No. 47Howard “Cub” Buck
No. 46Don Davey
No. 45Pat O’Dea
No. 44Curtis Joseph
No. 43Dean Anderson
No. 42Ivy Martin
No. 41Ron Vander Kelen
No. 40Carly Piper
No. 39J.J. Watt
No. 38Joe Pavelski
No. 37Barb Franke
No. 36Dick Cable
No. 35Sam Dekker
No. 34Jolene Anderson

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com