Dec. 23, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Chicago Bears injured linebacker Brian Urlacher prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher has jersey retired at New Mexico

It has been a long time since recently retired linebacker Brian Urlacher played with the New Mexico Lobos, but after an illustrious NFL career, he was rewarded in a significant way for his collegiate accomplishments.

There is no higher honor for a collegiate football star than having his number retired, and Urlacher was certainly deserving. In 1999, Urlacher was a consensus All-American (at a mid-major program like New Mexico, mind you) and the Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the entire story.

With most people’s memories of him simply confined to being an elite NFL linebacker, it is easy to forget just how much of an athletic freak Urlacher was while in college. For reference, he caught 6 touchdown passes as a senior on the offensive side of the ball and for good measure, he returned 5 kicks for touchdowns. Yes, Brian Urlacher was returning kicks (!!) with high effectiveness while playing strong safety on the defensive side of the ball.

I could go on for days about his accomplishments (442 career tackles, 12th on the Heisman ballot as a senior), but more importantly, Brian Urlacher was one of the best college football players I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes.

Congratulations, Brian.

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Tags: Brian Urlacher Chicago Bears New Mexico Lobos