As the countdown to the first Wisconsin football game of the season continues, Badger of Honor is taking a look at Badgers by the numbers, checking in on different Badgers who wore the number corresponding with the remaining days until Wisconsin heads to Texas to take on the Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 5.
When you think Wisconsin football you naturally think wide receiver. Maybe by accident at first, but let’s face it, we’ve had some absolute monsters at the position.
Yesterday we looked at two of the best receivers in the Badgers’ history, Pat Richter and Chris Chambers. But now we’re 87 days away from kickoff and there’s one player that clearly stands above the rest.
Al Toon wore 87 in Madison but later 88 in New York after he was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1985 NFL draft.
Toon performed at peak performance in 1983 and 1984. He led the Badgers in receiving both years, amassing 1,631 yards on 99 total receptions with 14 touchdowns.
During those seasons, Toon was named to the first-team All-Big Ten and declared the team’s Most Valuable Player.
Toon was also 2 of 7 passing for 40 yards, one interception and one 40-yard connection to Jeff Nault from a Randy Wright bouncing-backward lateral in the dazzling 29-28 loss to Illinois in 1982.
Al Toon only trailed Tim Stracka in 1982 by two catches and 55 yards but caught a team-high five TDs. Unlike most pre-Richter/Alvarez teams, Toon never saw a losing season. The Badgers averaged seven wins and five or fewer losses during his career.
Toon spent his time in New York well, earning trips to three Pro Bowls and leading the league in receptions in 1988 (93). 1988 was also the year his son Nick was born. Although you’ll all have to wait some time for his entry on this countdown.
Citing concussions as a major health issue, Al Toon retired in 1992. He caught 517 passes for 6,605 yards, including 31 TDs. He is co-owner of Olson Toon Landscaping, Inc. based out of Verona, Wisconsin.
Who wore No. 87 first?
Clair Strain was Wisconsin’s halfback between 1931-1934. On November 7, 1931, Strain was the team’s holder on the decisive extra point in the Badgers’ 7-6 victory over host Illinois.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Who wears No. 87 now?
George Rushing turned in a pleasant performance in the spring game and by my account will head into the season as the Badgers’ No. 3 wide receiver.
Other Side of the Ball
Prolific pass rusher J.J. Watt was given 87 in his first year (2008) after he transferred from Central Michigan University and Ethan Hemer wore the number before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014.
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