Darwin Gonnerman was SDSU’s first two-time All-American, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that those two teams, 1967 and 1968, were a combined 8-12. Gonnerman, from Adrian, Minn., put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons rushing and left SDSU holding 13 different Jackrabbit records.
His name is still in the book for:
" most all-purpose attempts in one game, 47 (41 rushes, 2 pass receptions, 3 punt returns, 1 kickoff return) against Augustana in 1967;
" most all-purpose yards in a career, 5,465; and
" longest punt return in SDSU history, 95 yards against north Dakota in 1966.
Ironically, his two 1,000-yard seasons produced identical totals with 1,023 yards each season. To this day, he is one of just five players in SDSU history to rush for 1,000 yards or more in a single season twice. Gonnerman’s school record punt return was on October 21, 1967. That was the last punt return for a touchdown by a Jackrabbit player at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium until Matt Beier brought one the distance against South Dakota Tech three weeks before Gonnerman was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.
Gonnerman was selected to the All-America team by the American Football Coaches Association in 1968. That year, Kodak became the sponsor of that team and the quarterback was a junior from Louisiana Tech named Terry Bradshaw. As a junior, Gonnerman led the NCC in scoring and rushing and was second in both punt and kickoff returns. In addition, he was SDSU’s punter and kicker. He repeated on the all-conference team as a senior and was voted the league’s Most Valuable Back. He finished with his Jackrabbit career with 2,598 career rushing yards. After his senior season, Gonnerman played in the American Bowl in Tampa, Fla., carrying the ball nine times for 26 yards. He also kicked three extra points as the North won 21-15.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in bacteriology and chemistry at SDSU in 1970, added a master’s degree in management and supervision at Central Michigan in 1977. After his college career, Gonnerman went on to play for Ottawa in the Canadian Football League before starting a military career. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1985, he retired from the military and became a project manager for National Date Corporation. Today, he is a project manager for Unisys Corporation in San Antonio, Texas.