In 1992 Columbia's head football coach Ray Tellier said, "Twenty or thirty years from now, not one coach, not one player, not one person, who was here when Des Werthman played, will ever forget how he played the game."
Twenty years later, those words have rung true.
Werthman was the definition of an impact player. Standing at just 5-10 and 225 pounds, Werthman was so dominant, former Columbia teammate and 10-year NFL veteran Marcellus Wiley called him the toughest player he ever played with in the collegiate or professional ranks.
With the Lions plagued by injury at several positions, Tellier started relying in his star linebacker on both sides of the ball. He received a few carries as an emergency fullback and served as a place-kicker in his junior season and the final two games of his senior campaign.
In 1992, facing a 7-1 Cornell team, Werthman posted 16 tackles, two fumble recoveries, two rushing touchdowns, a two-point conversion, two extra points, and even threw a pass, which went incomplete. The Lions upset the Big Red, 35-30, eliminating Cornell from the Ivy League title race.
The next week for his grand finale against Brown, Werthman rushed for 114 yards, scored 19 points-three rushing touchdowns and an extra point-and had 15 tackles. With the Lions leading 34-28 and time winding down, he even intercepted a pass to seal the victory.
A two-time first team All-Ivy League honoree and two-time All-America Honorable Mention, Werthman remains the school's all-time record holder with 449 career tackles and his 72 points during his senior year is the fifth-best total in program history. For his efforts, he was named Defensive and Offensive Player of the Week at different times of the 1992 season.
After graduating in 1993, Werthman enjoyed a brief stint in the arena league and earned several NFL tryouts. After hanging up his cleats, he began a career in investment banking and moved back to his hometown of Chicago in 1998. Werthman made a triumphant return to Wien Stadium in 1999, where he was tabbed as a member of the Columbia's All-Century Team.