When looking through the Lehigh football records and the running backs section, one name seems to pop up in just about every imaginable category: Rod Gardner '77. Between his seasonal records and his career records, Gardner's name appears 16 times in the record books and that's after missing some time his senior season because of an injury.
Another thing that one notices when looking through the record books is that Gardner's teams were 29-15-1 during his four years and the Brown and White made a pair of appearances in
the Division II National Tournament.
"I was fortunate to play during a great period of Lehigh football," Gardner commented. "During my years we went to two NCAA (Div.II) Tournaments and had really good teams. To me, that overshadows any individual honors or recognition."
During those four seasons, Lehigh averaged 30 points a contest, including six games with more than 50 points. Of the more than 1,300 points scored during those years, Gardner scored an incredible 302 points on the strength of 50 touchdowns.
"One look at the members of Lehigh's Hall of Fame will show how lucky I was to play during that era," Gardner said. "Mike Rieker, Steve Kreider, Kim McQuilkenI got to play with ail those guys."
An Associated Press Second Team All-American in 1975, Gardner held the record for career yards with 3,188 and rushing touchdowns with 42 and, of course, the total touchdowns mark with 50. Both touchdown records stand and the rushing mark stood for 21 years, until this past season when Rabih Abdullah, who recently signed with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, broke the mark with 3,696 yards.
Gardner's list of records displays his versatility as he averaged over 10 yards per reception and registered 922 receiving yards.
A quiet and unassuming man, Gardner's name boldly stands out in the annals of Lehigh Athletics history and now his introduction into the Lehigh Hall of Fame brings him to the
forefront even more.
"Any recognition I get is from the success of the teams I played on," Gardner said. "I wasn't the biggest guy, or the fastest guy. A lot of things had to fall into place in order for me to be successful on the field and those teams helped make me successful."
Gardner graduated from Lehigh in 1977 with a degree in business and economics and currently works at Synthes in West Chester, PA, where he resides with his wife Nancy and 3 children Brian, Patrick, and Kathleen.