A few days ago, I told you guys about the SB Nation College Football Hall of Fame, and asked you to come up with four Oregon candidates and a non-AQ candidate. You delivered. Here are ATQ's official submissions to the selection committee:
Joey Harrington, Quarterback, Oregon, 1998-2001
Harrington exemplifies every reason for doing this project. He's arguably the greatest player in school history,a but he'll never be eligible for the Hall of Fame because Eric Crouch and Ken Dorsey split the All-American honors that year. Harrington amassed a 25-3 career record as quarterback of the Oregon Ducks, winning one Pac-10 Title outright and sharing another. He was a Heisman finalist, Pac-10 player of the year, and Fiesta Bowl player of the game. But he was most known for his cool under pressure, as ‘Captain Comeback' led Oregon nine come from behind victories in the fourth quarter. And he did all that at a school that had won a total of one conference title in the previous 42 seasons. If that doesn't fit the definition of "hall of famer," why even have one?
Haloti Ngata, Defensive Lineman, Oregon
Ngata is the most physically imposing defensive player in Oregon history. A consensus first-team All-American and Pac-12 defensive player of the year in 2005, Ngata had 61 tackles at the DT position that season, and finished with 151 tackles and a record seven bloked kicks. Ngata is the only defensive player at Oregon that I have seen single-handedly dominate and win a game. Left Oregon a year early to move onto the NFL, where he has gone on to become a multiple-time pro-bowler for Baltimore.
Jonathan Stewart, Running Back, Oregon
Stewart only played one year in Chip Kelly's spread offense, or his numbers may be even more impressive. Was a first team All-American as a senior in 2007, where he rushed for 1,722 yards and had an Oregon record 2,481 all-purpose yards. Holds the Sun Bowl record with 253 rushing yards against South Florida in 2007, and ran for 100 yards 14 times in two years as a starter. Was also a starting kickoff returner for Oregon, where he finished with a career average of 28.9 yards per return. Left Oregon has the school's second all-time leading rusher despite leaving a year early for the NFL.
Kenny Wheaton, Cornerback, Oregon
Wheaton is the only player you will see on the video board before every Oregon game because, without Kenny Wheaton, Oregon never becomes a national power. Headed into the eighth game of the 1994 season against the #9 team in the country and hated rival Washington, it looked like another lackluster season as Oregon sat at 4-3. As Washington marches down the field for the sure winning touchdown in the last minute of the game, Wheaton jumped a quick out to the end zone and ran it back 97 yards for the touchdown that would seal the game for Oregon. The Ducks would go on to win their last four, and make the Rose Bowl for the first time in 37 years, the appearance made Phil Knight interested, and the rest is history. But Wheaton was so much more than "The Pick," and was twice a second-team All-American ('95-96), and still holds Oregon records for interception-return yards and interceptions returned for touchdowns. He was also the first Duck to leave early to pursue a career in the NFL.
And our non-AQ selection:
LaDanian Tomlinson, RB, TCU
One couldn't say enough about Tomlinson's dominance in the WAC. Two 2,000 yard seasons. Twice a WAC player of the year. First team all American. Doak Walker winner. Over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns for his career. Tomlinson had 406 yards in a single game against UTEP. Tomlinson is the single most dominant running back I have ever seen, and this coming from a guy who has watched LaMichael James the last three years.