- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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One of the first two African-American football players at Colorado (with Frank Clarke), Wooten lettered three years as a left guard in Dal Ward's Wing-T/Single-Wing offense, earning All-America honors in 1958 and All Big-Seven in 1956 and 1957. Most known as a 6-foot-2, 230-pound guard who was agile and powerful, he also played tackle on defense.
His impact was immediate. In 1956, he helped the Buffs to an 8-2-1 record and the school's first ever bowl victory -- a 27-21 win in the Orange Bowl. The next year Colorado led the nation in rushing with 322.3 yards per game and they were second in total offense (415.2) -- and a lot of that had to do with the holes Wooten was opening up. Then in 1958, Colorado achieved its first ever Top 10 ranking, climbing to No. 9 nationally after a 5-0 start.
In 1959 he was a fifth-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, where he went on to play nine seasons, earning All-Pro status, before closing out his career with one season in Washington. He went on to have a decorated career in NFL administration, streamlining programs centered on continuing education and financial planning for players. After working in Dallas, Philadelphia and Baltimore, he retired from the NFL in 2003.
In 1989 he was named as a first-team member of Colorado's All-Century Team. To honor him, the Buffs hand out the John Wooten Award annually, which goes to the team's most improved player.