Class of 1982

Tom Rathman

HometownGrand Island, NE
High schoolGrand Island

Don’t stereotype Nebraska fullbacks. Sure, blocking has always been a priority, but Grand Island’s Tom Rathman was one of many who could move the chains. In fact, after 1,425 career rushing yards, he is considered the best of the modern Husker fullbacks.

As a sophomore, the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder backed up Mark Schellen (another of the good ones) on the 1983 offensive powerhouse that fell one play short of a national championship.

Rathman came into his own in 1984 as the Huskers’ third-leading rusher with 381 yards on 75 carries, a 5.1-yard average.

His senior season was eye-opening. His 881 yards on just 118 carries — 7.5 yards a pop — is still the top single-season rushing performance by an NU fullback. He scored eight touchdowns, six of 32 yards or longer. He was All-Big Eight for the Fiesta Bowl team.

Rathman’s skills translated to the NFL. A third-round draft choice by San Francisco, he helped the 49ers win championships after the 1988 and 1989 seasons. Besides blocking for another ex-Husker, Roger Craig, Rathman had two short touchdown runs in his second Super Bowl, against Denver. That capped a strong season for Rathman, who led all NFL backs with 73 catches for 616 yards.

After finishing his career with the Raiders in 1994, Rathman did some high school and small-college coaching before rejoining the 49ers as running backs coach in 1997. He’s also been on staff for the Lions and Raiders, and is in his second stint with the 49ers.

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