Illini Legends, Lists & Lore: Happy 75th, Joe Rutgens

Sunday marks the 75th birthday of Joe Rutgens, one of Illinois’ least-publicized football stars. Recruited by Ray Eliot in 1956 out of LaSalle-Peru High School, Rutgens was an outstanding 6-foot-2, 245-pound tackle. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior (1959) and senior (1960). Rutgens was a first-round pick in the 1961 NFL and AFL drafts, chosen third by the Washington Redskins and fourth by the Oakland Raiders. He chose to sign with the Redskins, wearing jersey number 72 for nine seasons (1961-69). Rutgens was chosen for the 1963 and ’65 Pro Bowls. He played for coach Vince Lombardi in his final season as a pro. In 2008, Rutgens was selected as one of the top 10 defensive linemen in Illinois history. Today, he resides in Spring Valley with his wife, Donna.

Illini Birthdays
Sunday: Courtney Bell, soccer (26)
Monday: Ernest Benion, wrestling (40)
Tuesday: Marcus Arnold, basketball (30)
Wednesday: Rich McBride, basketball (29)
Thursday: Josh Brent, football (26)
Friday: Jevon Herman, wrestling (39)
Saturday: Glenn Collier, football (64)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore

Get Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter @B1GLLL

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