Early Years :
Ron Dayne’s stardom began while Overbrook High School in Pine Hill, New Jersey, where he was heavily recruited for his quickness and athleticism. In addition to football, Dayne excelled at track and field, winning the 1995 New Jersey Meet of Champions, while also setting a meet record in the discus. In 1996, Dayne won state titles in both discus and shot put, breaking both meet records at the time. Continuing his success in discus and shot put, in 1996, Dayne again won the New Jersey Meet of Champions and broke his own record in discus. To this day, Ron Dayne has the #5 discus distance ever thrown by a US High Schooler at 216’ 11”.
Entering college at 270-pounds, many believed that Dayne was just too big to play tailback and was better suited for the fullback position. However, then University of Wisconsin football coach, Barry Alvarez, promised Dayne a tailback position and persuaded him to play for the UW. Dayne went on to start at running back all four years of his college career at Wisconsin, a collegiate career that will forever remain in football history. “The Great Dayne” was never flashy, but carried the load that other teams would spread between three running backs. Also known as the “Dayne Train,” Dayne proved his workman-like style by carrying the ball 1,220 times in his collegiate career.
In each of Dayne’s four years with Wisconsin he moved closer and closer to reaching the NCAA Division I-A rushing record for total yards in a career. He gained 1,863 yards as a freshman, 1,421 as a sophomore, 1,325 as a junior, and 1,834 as a senior, making Dayne one of only five players to rush for over a thousand yards in four consecutive years. His record-breaking run occurred in the final game of the 1999 season vs. Iowa. Ending his college career with 6,397 rushing yards, this amount still stands as the as the most ever in NCAA Division-1 history, eclipsing Ricky Williams previous record set in 1998.
Ron Dayne’s greatest performances were always saved for Wisconsin’s bowl games. Dayne led the Badgers to a 38-10 victory in the 1996 Copper Bowl against Utah, rushing for 246 yards and winning the game’s MVP Award. After a disappointing 36-yard performance in the 1998 Outback Bowl loss to Georgia, Dayne bounced back the next two seasons with 246 yards and 200 yards, respectively, in Wisconsin’s 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowl victories. Dayne’s Rose Bowl performances earned him MVP honors in both games, becoming the only player in Big Ten history to win back-to-back Rose Bowl MVP’s.
Ron Dayne was rewarded appropriately for his record-breaking performances, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1999, as well as a slew of other awards including Big Ten Conference player of the year in 2000, and All-American placement in 1996, 1998 and 1999. Ron Dayne’s name and #33 were placed on the Camp Randall Stadium façade following his final home game. His number was officially retired from the Wisconsin Football program in 2007.
When yardage from bowl games is included in Dayne’s NCAA rushing record (as it would be for any running back attempting to break his record under current NCAA rules), he amassed 7,125 yards becoming the first player in NCAA history to total over 7,000 rushing yards.
Along with Rickey Williams and Marcus Allen, Dayne holds the record for the most 200-yard rushing games with 12. Dayne’s 71 total touchdowns and 6,397 total rushing yards stood as a Big Ten Conference record until 2012.
At the end of the 2015 college football season, the fact that Dayne’s career rushing record still stands is remarkable, especially when one considers that he accumulated this yardage in 46 regular season games played in a conference which has no championship game. In addition, none of his bowl game yardage is included in his official record-setting total. Under the current NCAA rules, running backs attempting to break his record play twelve game seasons, backs in conferences with a championship game have a potential thirteenth game every year in which to accumulate yardage, and bowl game yardage is now included in the official totals.
In the 2000 NFL Draft, Dayne was selected with the 11th pick by the New York Giants. “Thunder and Lightning” charged the scene in Dayne’s first season, with Dayne’s power and Tiki Barber’s speed making for an exciting tandem. The Giants went on to play in Super Bowl XXXV. Dayne continued his NFL career with the Giants for five years, shedding 40lbs in the process and becoming a more versatile and shifty running back. In 2005, Dayne was signed by the Denver Broncos. On Thanksgiving Day in 2005, Dayne rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys, earning him the CBS Thanksgiving All-Iron Award.
In 2006, Dayne signed with the Texans, where he enjoyed a resurgence of sorts, having rushed for 429 yards and 5 touchdowns in December 2006, including two scores in an upset victory over the division rival Indianapolis Colts.
Ron lives in Madison, Wisconsin and is involved with various marketing activities. Ron has partnerships with a variety of businesses, including University of Wisconsin Athletics, Goldstein & Associates, Tailgate Clothing, Oak Park Place and Kollegetown Sports. Ron also participates in a variety of charitable activities, including spending time at the American Family Children’s Hospital and supporting Madison4Kids a local charity benefiting children in the Madison community.