Well before he was a three-time Super Bowl champion for America’s Team, and years prior to becoming one of the most familiar NFL analysts in the country, Daryl “Moose” Johnston was a Syracuse legend.
Growing up in Western New York, about 15 miles from Niagara Falls, Johnston made his mark as a tough nosed running back. He entered SU just looking to get on the field, without the ego of someone with his eventual accolades (he would have his high school number retired and be inducted into the Greater Buffalo Hall of Fame). He earned the last scholarship of the class. Back then he was just looking for playing time so he redshirted his freshman season, then found his way onto the field as a special teams player.
But by 1986 Coach Mac couldn’t keep him off the field, and he earned the starting fullback job as a sophomore. As a junior SU would nearly reach the pinnacle. In the magical season of ’87 Johnston helped contribute to a team that would play in the Sugar Bowl and had dreams of winning a national championship. He had more than 700 yards from scrimmage and 5 touchdowns and was named an¬†All-Big East¬†selection in 1987. In 1988 he was even better, piling up nearly 900 yards in rushing and receiving. Versatility was his trademark. He was named an¬†All-American for being a tough-as-nails blocker along with production with the ball.
Johnston in one game gained 138 yards rushing, the most by a Syracuse¬†running back¬†since¬†Larry Csonka¬†rushed for 154 yards in 1967. He helped the Orange to a combined 21-2-1 record in his final two seasons. He helped lead SU to the 1989 Hall of Fame Bowl before graduating, and beginning his amazing career with the Cowboys.¬†He was named to Syracuse University’s All-Century team in 1999.
During his four-year playing career with the Orange, Johnston rushed for 1,706 yards, gained 451 on 43 pass receptions and scored 10 touchdowns in helping SU to an overall record of 33-13-1 and three bowl games (Cherry in ’86).
Apparently his exploits weren’t limited to on the field. Coach Mac once said, “His mother, Ann, gave him to me and I made a beer-drinking, woman-chasing, 2.6 student out of a class valedictorian.” Moose left his hoofprints all over SU’s campus.