With Oregon football season approaching, Marcus Mariota could join a conversation that includes Joey Harrington and LaMichael James as one of the best Ducks ever.
The Oregon Ducks have recently become one of the most celebrated teams in college football. But according to Andrew Greif from The Oregonian, a major theme for the team from their 2014 media day on August 4 was that last year’s 11-2 record simply “isn't good enough.”
With an already impressive career at Oregon, potential success in the inaugural College Football Playoff could cement Mariota’s legend as one of the greatest to ever play for the Ducks.
Now (I've decided on your behalf) would be a good time to refresh on some of the other greats whom Mariota would be joining. For argument’s sake, I decided to limit my list to only the top five players—don’t worry, there will be a few honorable mentions as well—to wear an Oregon uniform. Active players like Mariota do not count.
Some of the players, though, played for the Ducks before Nike had much to do with aforementioned uniforms. This is not just to avoid nearsightedness, but also to account for different eras, coaches and systems for the team. Just because someone played for the Ducks in 1978 when the team was 1-10 shouldn’t disqualify a phenomenal player from contention.
Imagine, for example, what Chip Kelly could have done with some of the stars from previous decades. Instead, my criteria looked for a variety of traits: intangibles and athleticism, stardom and success as well as swagger.
Most importantly, however, I hoped to find the players who had the greatest overall impact on the program. Beyond stats, I included the players who would be remembered at Oregon forever—both because of their performance and because of their lasting legacy.
Selections are based on play at Oregon, and not in the NFL. I did notice, however, that many of Oregon’s top performers did come in recent years.
Note: This list is imperfect. No amount of research could give me the “correct” answer, because there is no such thing as the right answer. I have my biases, considering when I attended the UO.
If and when you do decide to comment, I’d love to hear what you think a more appropriate top five may have looked like.
The projected starting quarterback at the start of fall camp does not always win the job by the end of fall camp.
Last year, for example, Blake Bell was favored to win the starting job at Oklahoma after serving as the short-yardage quarterback behind Landry Jones in 2012 and 2011. But a redshirt freshman named Trevor Knight swept the coaches off their feet in August and took the first snap of the season against UL-Monroe.
This year, there are numerous candidates to pull off the same sort of upset as Knight did. If the season started today, they probably wouldn't hear their numbers called, but they have the talent and the opportunity to change that in the next three weeks.
Sometimes that is an indictment of the players projected ahead of them; other times it's an endorsement of the backup. In most cases, it's a varied combination of the two.
This list includes all of the above.