INDIANAPOLIS — Cornelius Bennett was an absolute monster at the University of Alabama, where he was three-time All-American pass rusher who notched 287 tackles and 21.5 sacks from 1983 to 1986.
He would go on to continue that trend in the National Football League, earning five Pro Bowl and three All-Pro nods in addition to two AFC Defensive Player of the Year awards.
So it might not be a surprise to anybody, then, that Bennett is still considered one of the greatest players to ever come out of the Southeastern Conference — which is no small feat, considering the long list of Hall of Famers that hail from the SEC.
AL.com recently put Bennett's legendary status in some perspective, when it named him "The SEC’s best No. 97" of all-time as part of a content series counting down to the beginning of the 2017 college football season.
Bennett, of course, was taken by the Indianapolis Colts with the No. 2-overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft, and then sent to the Buffalo Bills in a blockbuster three-team trade that moved running back Eric Dickerson from the Los Angeles Rams to the Colts and running back Greg Bell — as well as the Bills' first-round picks in 1988 and 1989 and their second-round pick in 1989 — from Buffalo to Los Angeles.
Bennett spent nine seasons with the Bills before playing three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, and then wrapped up his NFL career where it technically started — with two final years in Indianapolis.
So while Bennett is pretty clearly the best to wear No. 97 in the SEC, it got us thinking: is he the best to wear the number with the Indianapolis Colts?
In his two seasons in Indy, he had a combined eight sacks, playing in all 32 games with 31 starts over that span.
The hope, of course, is that the new man wearing No. 97 for the Colts, nose tackle Al Woods, can carve out his own great career. But, for now, let's take a look back at some previous players to wear 97 for the Horseshoe:
• Mario Addison, defensive end: 6 games, 1 tackle over parts of the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
• O'Brien Alston, linebacker: 19 games, 15 starts, four total sacks over parts of the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
• Quentin Ballard, defensive tackle: 15 games, four starts, two sacks in 1983 season in Baltimore.
• Cornelius Bennett, linebacker: 32 games, 31 starts, 108 tackles, eight sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries over 1999 and 2000 seasons.
• James Cannida, defensive tackle: 10 games, seven starts, with 18 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery in the 2002 season.
• Antonio Dixon, defensive tackle: 2 games, one tackle in the 2012 season.
• Aubrayo Franklin, nose tackle: 16 games with 15 starts, 17 tackles, one pass defended in 2013 season.
• Art Jones, defensive tackle: 17 games with 11 starts, 34 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in parts of 2014 and 2016 seasons.
• Frank Mattiace, defensive tackle: 3 games with one sack in the 1987 season.
• Dan Muir, defensive tackle: 40 games with 26 starts, 82 tackles, 0.5 sacks and one pass defensed in parts of 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
• Christian Peter, defensive tackle: 14 games with seven tackles and a sack in 2011 season.
• Quinn Pitcock, defensive tackle: nine games with one start, 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the 2007 season.
• Scott Radecic, linebacker: 90 games with 24 starts, 259 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 1990 through 1995 seasons.
• Nick Rogers, linebacker: 1 game played with four tackles in the 2004 season.
• Kendel Shello, defensive end: 13 games played with one start, seven tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery across parts of the 1996, 1997 and 1998 seasons.
• Corey Simon, defensive tackle: 13 games with 13 starts, 25 tackles, two passes defensed and one forced fumble in the 2005 season.
• Jamaal Westerman, defensive end: four games with three tackles and a sack in part of the 2012 season.
The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.