Saints Wide Receivers Coach Curtis Johnson held the same position at San Diego State University from 1989-93. In 1991, Johnson went on a recruiting trip to George Washington Carver in his hometown of New Orleans to check out the school’s receivers. One player caught Johnson’s eye that he wasn’t even aware of before the trip – the standout player was Marshall Faulk.
After seeing Faulk’s highlight tape, Johnson hand-delivered it to San Diego State’s Head Coach Al Luginbill.
As a senior at Carver, Faulk was considered one of the top recruits in the state and was recruited by elite programs such as LSU, Nebraska and Miami. However, Johnson was the first coach from any school to offer Faulk the opportunity to play running back. Faulk played a number of positions for Carver and was even named an All-American at defensive back.
At the end of his recruiting process, the highly-touted prospect said he didn’t choose San Diego State but that San Diego State chose him.
Faulk went on to be a three-time All-American selection as an Aztec (1991-93). He led the nation in rushing as a freshman in 1991 with 1,429 yards and in 1992 as sophomore with 1,630 yards. Faulk was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1992.
Saints Head Coach Sean Payton was San Diego State’s running backs coach when Faulk arrived on campus. On the NFL Network’s Hall of Fame election show back in February, Faulk talked about how Payton helped him early on in college.
“In my sophomore year of college, (Payton) really challenged me to learn more than the fronts and certain things about coverage,” Faulk said on the show.
For his NFL career, he finished 10th on the league’s career rushing yards list with 12,279 yards while playing for the Colts and Rams. He was the 1994 Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2000 NFL MVP and a three-time Offensive Player of the Year (1999-2001).
Faulk was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
During his emotional enshrinement speech, the 12-year NFL veteran had high praise for Johnson.
“C.J., thank you for taking the time to watch my tape,” said Faulk. “Thank you for taking the time to hand that tape to coach. Without those efforts, all of this may not be possible. I may not be standing here before you if I had to go play defensive back somewhere because that was someone else's decision. My decision was to play running back.”