Oregon is certainly not Notre Dame or USC with their rich histories of great football, but we still have had our fair share of great players — from great running backs and wide receivers to a host of great quarterbacks. This is my list of the top five Oregon football players on the offensive side of the ball.
5/4. Bill Musgrave (1987-90)/Danny O’Neil (1991-94): These two quarterbacks had nearly identical passing stats. It’s almost scary how similar they were. Musgrave had 8343 total yards, with 634 completions on 1104 attempts. O’Neil had 8301 total yards, with 636 completions on 1132 attempts. I wasn’t born when these two played, but from what I’ve heard and seen from the few highlights I could find, these two were great players and amazing athletes that coaches raved about.
3. Keenan Howry (1999-02): Howry ranks third in Oregon receiving-yardage, with 2698 yards and 24 touchdowns. He was also a great possession receiver as seen by his 173 receptions, which was fourth all-time for Oregon. He wasn’t just a receiver though; he also gained 1221 yards with four TD’s on punt returns, tied for first with Cliff Harris. He was a great receiver and one of the best punt returners Oregon has ever seen.
2. LaMichael James (2009-11): It is remarkable that James never won the Heisman. He averaged 137.4 yards per game for his entire career. Let me repeat that…137.4 yards. Not for a season, but a career. He was electric. James had 58 total TDs, a stat which ranks him first for points scored at Oregon. Rarely do you see someone who isn’t a kicker leading a school in points. If it weren’t for the next player on my list, James would have the top spot.
1. Marcus Mariota (2012-14): Who else? How many of you didn’t see this coming? What can I even say about this guy? Statistically speaking, Mariota will go down as one of the best college quarterbacks in college football history. That usually means you are the best your school has ever seen.
If others were to make these picks without much thought, they would probably make a list filled with players from the past decade, but they would be missing a lot of great players. I think I made the right choices with a variety of time periods and positions. Hopefully, the next Top Five will be the top five players on the defensive side of the ball, although that may be hard to determine given the lack of stats on some of the older players.
Top photo from Kevin Cline