These selections are based upon criteria to limit recency bias, favoritism and the impact of an athlete’s career. The selections are based solely on the athlete’s success at Purdue, not factoring in professional or international competitions and victories. They also do not take into consideration the team success during a player’s career. A team with a losing record or bad season does not necessarily affect the individual’s personal success.
The overall No. 1 athlete who can get lost among the basketball and football greats is David Boudia, arguably the winningest athlete in Purdue history. The diver won six NCAA Championship events, eight Big Ten Championship events, was a three-time NCAA and Big Ten Diver of the Year and Purdue Male Athlete of the Year and was named the 2011 Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year, the first diver to ever do so. His six NCAA championships are the second most of all time in men’s diving.
In his senior season, he won an astounding 30 of 31 events he competed in. There has been no other athlete as dominant or successful at Purdue as Boudia.
As the quarterback who led Purdue to a 14-13 victory in the 1967 Rose Bowl, it is often forgotten that Bob Griese was a three-position athlete for the football team.
As the quarterback, kicker and punter, Griese was usually on the field when the Boilermakers scored. Under center in 1965, he helped lead Purdue to a 25-21 upset over No. 1 Notre Dame, throwing 22 passes for 19 completions, an 86.4 completion percentage and a single-game Purdue record that stood until 2004. In the Rose Bowl victory, Griese completed 10 of 18 passes for 139 yards and scored 2 extra points.
When he left Purdue, he led the program in pass attempts (627), completions (358) and yards (4,541). He was the runner-up for the 1966 Heisman Trophy and received the Sammy Baugh Award for the nation’s most outstanding passer. He was then taken as No. 4 pick in the 1967 NFL/AFL Draft.
If you drive down U.S. Interstate 65 from West Lafayette toward Indianapolis, you can see a sign on a silo dedicated to Rick Mount. If you go to a Purdue men’s basketball game, you’ll hear “the house that Mount built” in the pregame hype video. As a basketball legend, his career is even more impressive when considering that the 3-point line didn’t exist then, and he only played three varsity seasons for the Boilers, yet still holds the all-time career scoring record by 142 points. In second place is Joe Barry Carroll, who played 51 more games and four seasons. He also holds career records for highest scoring average (32.3) and field goals made (910).
Mount helped create a historic legacy for Mackey Arena, playing in its first-ever game, losing to a UCLA team led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and coached by John Wooden. Despite losing to UCLA three times in his career, Mount dominated in Big Ten play. He was a three-time All-American and All-Big Ten selection, and he helped lead the Boilers to a conference championship in 1969.
In just two seasons, Glenn Robinson cemented himself as one of the best basketball players to ever wear a Purdue jersey. Ineligible for his freshman season due to academic standards, Robinson lived up to the hype his sophomore year, being named to the first team All-Big Ten and a second team All-American. His junior year was when he really carved his legacy into stone. From the 1994 season, where he averaged a double-double of 30.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, he still holds the Purdue and Big Ten single season record for most points scored with 1,030, the only player in conference history to top 1,000 points in a season.
Known as “The Big Dog,” Robinson led the Boilers to a Big Ten championship and an Elite Eight appearance in the 1994 NCAA Tournament. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year, a consensus All-American and swept the prestigious Wooden and Naismith Awards, given to the nation’s top college basketball player. He was taken as the first overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft. His two years at Purdue flew by, but the mark he made in Mackey Arena will never be forgotten.