January 23, 1976 |
|Height:||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight:||198 lb (90 kg)|
|High school:||DeSoto (TX)|
|NFL Draft:||1997 / Round: 2 / Pick: 41|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of 1999|
|Player stats at PFR|
Byron Courtnay Hanspard, Sr. (born January 23, 1976) is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for two seasons during the 1990s. He played college football for Texas Tech University, earned All-American honors and won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top college running back. A second-round pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, he played professionally for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
Hanspard attended Texas Tech University, where he played for the Texas Tech Red Raiders football team from 1994 to 1996. As freshman in 1994, he recorded 761 yards rushing on 173 carries. In the following season, he had 1,374 yards on 248 carries. In 1996, he accumulated 2,084 yards rushing (and a total of 2,276 all-purpose yards). He was one of two running backs to rush for 2,000 yards that year, the other being Troy Davis. However, Hanspard edged out Davis for the Walker Award in part because he played on a winning team. He was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American, and finished sixth in the voting for the 1996 Heisman Trophy. He was only the third Red Raider to be named a unanimous All-American, after Mark Bounds in 1991 and Zach Thomas in 1995. He has since been joined by Michael Crabtree in 2007-08 and Jace Amaro in 2013.
Hanspard is Texas Tech's all-time leader in career rushing yards (4,219 yards in three seasons) and rushing yards per game. He ranks second in career rushing attempts. He also holds school records for single-season rushing attempts (339 in 1996) and most yards in a single game (287 against Baylor in 1996—one of seven career 200-yard games). He also ranks second in career rushing attempts and is in a four-way tie for seventh in single-season and career touchdowns.
Hanspard announced shortly after the end of the 1996 season that he would give up his last year of eligibility and enter the 1997 NFL Draft. An ordained Pentecostal minister, he said that he felt the NFL gave him a better opportunity to expand his ministry. However, he later became the source of controversy after it emerged that he had all but abandoned his studies during what turned out to be his last year in school, posting a 0.00 grade point average for the 1996 fall semester. In part because of this, Texas Tech withdrew from bowl consideration in 1997.
Hanspard was chosen in the second round (41st pick overall) by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1997 NFL Draft. He was used primarily as a kick returner in his rookie season, garnering 1,375 all-purpose yards, including 987 return yards. He also set a team record (since broken) for the longest run from scrimmage—a 77-yard burst against the Oakland Raiders. He suffered a severe knee injury during training camp in 1998 and missed the entire season. He returned in 1999 but was unable to return to his previous level of play. Despite increased playing time due to the loss of Jamal Anderson, he only gained 383 yards on 136 carries.
The Falcons cut him during training camp in 2000 after he lost a fumble in a preseason game. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but did not make an appearance for them in the three years that he was on the roster.
- "Three repeat as AP All-Americans". Associated Press. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Texas Tech 2006 Football Media Guide
- "Hanspard to Turn Pro", The New York Times, December 31, 1996. Accessed April 6, 2008.
- Independent Headlines: NCAA adds to Tech's self-imposed sanctions 08/05/98
- Mundo, Pete. Texas Tech's Byron Hanspard on faith, family and education. Heartland College Sports, 2017-06-20.
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Draft History, 1997 National Football League Draft. Retrieved February 2, 2012.