About a year ago, I wrote a post attempting to list the greatest “Oregon” Ducks of all-time - University of Oregon athletes, regardless of sport, who were either natives of the state of Oregon, or at had least moved here at a young age and thus “grew up” in Oregon.
I originally planned to do a “top 10”, but early in the research it became clear that in order to distill decades of notable athletes down to a list that size would almost be impossible. So it grew to a top 15, and even then I had to include an eight-person “Honorable Mention” list.
Being a native Oregonian myself, the topic hit home for me. I have been pleasantly surprised over this past year watching a steady stream of comments on the story that continue to be written to this day by FishDuck readers. Obviously, this topic hits close to home for many.
I remember feeling both surprised and encouraged in the first few days after it published, that despite my best Wiki and Google efforts at the time, just how many deserving additional names you all were able to come up with, and your feedback was what I had hoped for.
With any list like this there are bound to be differences of opinion for rankings, and athletes who somehow fell through the cracks, and those who were not mentioned.
So now over a year later, I wanted to circle back around on this discussion, and say thank you to the many readers who took the time to comment on this story.
And, here are YOUR Greatest “Oregon” Ducks and comments:
First off, a quick shout out to our own Maddog48, who had by far the most inclusive and educational post, even if I had previously never heard of half of these people:
“Turning to Oregon football, my list of omitted Oregon players (most of whom not only were stars at Oregon but went on to pro careers includes: J.W. Beckett (College Football Hall of Fame), Shy Huntington (All-American and successful head coach at Oregon), Raymond “Butch” Morse, Ross Carter, Sr., Del Bjork, Frank Emmons, Jim Stuart, Dick Wilkins (primarily a basketball player but spent several seasons in pro football), Monte Brethauer, Emery Barnes, Jack Patera, Dick James, Jack Stone, Jack Morris, Jim Shanley, Darrel Aschbacher, Riley Mattson, Dave Tobey, Ray Palm, Steve Bunker, Claxton Welch, Andy Maurer, Russ Francis, Tom Drougas, Brad Ecklund, Tom Blanchard, Lionel Coleman, Bill Drake, Bob Newland…”
“…I would remind people of two Oregon track and field stars in recent years, Galen Rupp and Ashton Eaton. Eaton is a “rock star” in current track and field”
.. And that before the Olympics. After the dominance in London, the omission of Ashton Eaton and Galen Rupp became glaring, pointed out here by Andy, who added another great name in his comment:
GREAT POST – but what about Dante Rosario and Ashton Eaton? In my mind these are two of the best athletes who grew up here in Oregon and could do any sport they wanted to. Freak athletes! If you haven’t you-tubed Rosario drop-kicking someone in that Cal game on a kickoff your life is not yet complete.
And more of my favorite comments involving the dominating track duo (and Chris Tetterton):
Any article with Chris Tetterton in it is a good article.
Per below, Galen Rupp has to be right up in the top 15:
“The World’s Greatest Athlete, Ashton Eaton certainly belongs on this list”
“So after the olympics, I think it is clear that Galen Rupp is a top 5 oregon duck of all time. I pretty good case could have been made before the olympics, but after his silver, the first metal in the 10k since tokyo, its clear he might be the greatest american distance runner not named pre. right now he is the best white distance runner in the world. Some might think that bigger sports mean they should rank higher, but few ducks have achieved the success that Galen has, in any sport”
On the football field, there were several I missed, including:
“Jeremy Asher. Tigard HS and key member of Gang Green”
Jon e boy•
“…How do you leave Mike Walter off at least honorable mention list. Sheldon High, Duck MVP, All pac 10. 2nd round draft, 11 years in NFL with SF and 3 superbowl championships.
And, there were some impressive resumes in some under the radar events:
“What about the Crouser Brothers from Gresham? Dean won NCAA titles in the shot and discus in 1982 and the Discus in 1983. Four Time Pac-10 Champs in those events. Brian won the Javelin as a freshman in 1982 and again in 1986, and won the Pac-10 twice. Both set school records at the time which still stand among the all-time bests”
I heard from some families of local athletes (information at my disposal from this early era is scarce, so if anyone knows how I can help these folks or remembers a story about Monte Brethauer, please get in touch with me)
“Monte was also my Dad and I am interested in seeing where I might find some footage of his footballs days. Either at Oregon or at Baltimore. Any ideas where to look. Also, did they get pins or something back then for the accomplishments on the field. I have often wondered if he did, what ever happened to them.”
Nancy Brethauer Blaire•
“My dad was Monte Leon Brethauer, and of course, I thought he was pretty great. I also thought a few of his college records were still standing at the time of his death in 1994, which seemed pretty amazing considering how advanced athletes are today. I may be mistaken about that but no matter where you rate him, he’ll always be Number 1 to me…”
I also received feedback from athletes themselves, including one from an all-time personal favorite of mine and an undisputed All-time Tecmo Bowl team member, J.J. Birden:
“This is an interesting list because there have been some amazing athletes born in our State. It’s nice to see from this list that all stayed in state. It was always disappointing to see our “best” travel out of State. To be thought of in this capacity is a honor. Knight is a unique pick at #1 but I understand it. I’ve always that Renfro was the best overall athlete born in Oregon. Topics like this always makes for some interesting dialogue. Thanks for opening it up. Stay Positive, JJ”
For every constructive comment, there were several from people who just didn’t understand the criteria (5 People inquired about how I could leave out California native Dan Fouts, for instance) or simply disagreed with my rankings altogether:
“I CANT BELIVE YOU PUT KNIGHT AS #1!! WHAT ABOUT BILL BOWERMEN, IF IT HADNT BEEN FOR BILL THERE WON’T BE A NIKE!! YOU WAY OVER LOOKED WHAT BILL DID FOR TRACK AND FIELD, THANKS TO BOWERMEN WE GOT THE TRAILS MADE OREGON AND EUGENE TRAK TOWN USA!! TO HELL WITH KNIHGHT AND HIS TAINTED MONEY!!!!
But with all of that said, I consider the original article a success based on the reader comments, and thought it would be fun to sift through and try and come up with the top 15 that were left out. Here goes:
15. Jeremy Asher- Hard hitting linebacker of the gang green era, and leading tackler on the 1994 Pac-10 Champion/Rose Bowl team.
14. Bob Newland- The former North Eugene Highlander was a standout football player at Oregon, and played WR in the NFL with the Saints.
13. Don Reynolds- A multi-talented athlete in the early to mid-1970’s, Reynolds averaged 8.1 yards per carry and amassed over 1,000 yards rushing as a sophomore on the football team, but also was a stand out in baseball and was selected by the San Diego Padres
12. E.J. Singler- The Ducks’ winningest basketball player in school history led a remarkable turnaround during his tenure, culminating in the Pac-12 tournament title and Sweet-Sixteen run this year.
11. Tom Blanchard- From Grants Pass, Blanchard played QB and punter at Oregon and punted in the NFL for 11 years.
10. Bill Dellinger- Grants Pass native and 2001 Nation Track & Field Hall of Fame Inductee was three time Olympian and held eight American or world records. Coached 108 All-Americans including Prefontaine, Mary Slaney, Alberto Salazar, and Matthew Centrowitz.
9. Dick Wilkins- Three sport athlete for the Ducks, (football, basketball, baseball) his 89 wins in basketball were the most all-time until being surpassed by E.J. Singler this season.
8. J.W. Beckett- a four year letterman in football from 1913-1916 and member of the college football HOF.
7. Liz Brenner- Modern day sophomore at the U of O. The 6’1″ athletic Swiss army knife competes for the nationally ranked #2 Track & Field team, #6 Softball team, the #2 Volleyball team, and averaged 7.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game on the not-so-ranked but beloved Lady Ducks Basketball team. And, she’s only a sophomore…
6. Lauren “Laddie” Gail- Elected to the Naismith HOF in 1977, the 6’4″ Lauren Gale from Oakridge was the second tallest “Tall Fir”, and is noted as the first college player to frequently use a one-handed shot. He led the men’s basketball team in scoring in 1938 and 1939, winning the first national championship in 1939. Gale is also recognized as the first Oregonian selected by the military draft “lottery”.
5. Galen Rupp- Before winning the incredibly rare Silver medal in the 10,000 at the Olympics in London, Rupp smashed 40 year old + national junior and college records in the 1,500, 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000.
4. Mike Walter- Local Sheldon High School/Eugene linebacker enjoyed a long career in the NFL. Drafted in the 2nd round by the Dallas Cowboys, and won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.
2. Ashton Eaton- 25 years old and already “The Greatest Athlete in the World.” Hard to top that…
1. Bill Bowerman- The Portland native and visionary who’s bio could easily be its own Track and Field encyclopedia. A crude, short version is that he basically popularized jogging and several athletic practice and training methods in the US. He is among the
best if not the best collegiate Track & Field coach of all time. And, oh yeah, he co-founded Nike with a waffle iron and some rubber. His face would be chiseled into a Mt. Rushmore of American Athletics (if there was one).
So there it is, my rankings of your “Oregon” Ducks. Who did I miss?
With new athletes joining the fold each year, this will hardly be the last time we visit this topic. It’s also exciting to ponder which current football players like Tyson Coleman, Oshay Dunmore, Evan Voeller, Doug Brenner, Colt Lyerla or Thomas Tyner may fit in down the road.
Josh White has been a dedicated Duck fan since the Bill Musgrave days. He has attended (and lost his voice at) virtually every home game and many away games since the late 1980’s, including 96 of the current 97 game sellout streak at Autzen Stadium. A Eugene native, Josh works full time in Eugene area real estate, helping people buy and sell residential and commercial properties, and also volunteers with Habitat For Humanity, Kidsports and Food For Lane County. He welcomes your feedback.
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