There has been a great deal of discussion recently about the Dream Team. It got us thinking: what if you could compile an all-time Oregon Ducks Dream Team?
It's difficult to compare eras, of course, what with all the changes in equipment and the game itself. But it feels appropriate with the new season only a few days away (18, to be exact, if you're counting) to take a look back at some of the great players who contributed to the Ducks' current success.
We will pick one at each position and throw in an honorable mention candidate. For some of you fans who are relatively new to the Ducks, you might be surprised to learn that there was some very good football played at Oregon in the past few decades. And, you may find some of your current favorites on the Dream Team too.
Enjoy this Ducks Dream, and if your all-time favorite isn't on this list, let me know why he should have been included, OK?
Information for this article was gathered from many sources, including GAME DAY, Oregon Football, produced by Athlon Sports and Triumph Books, copyright, 2007, and the media guide on GoDucks.com.
When Haloti Ngata arrived at Oregon in 2002, he was the biggest fish recruit the Ducks had ever landed. Ngata was the top-ranked defensive player in the nation that year, and it was amazing that he chose Oregon.
Ngata did not disappoint the Ducks, and was Oregon's first All-America first-team selection in over 40 years. The tackling, sacking machine also blocked seven kicks, a school record.
Ngata was Oregon's highest defensive line draft choice ever, selected as the 12th pick by the Baltimore Ravens, where he has gone on to be an all-NFL pick and Pro Bowler.
Ngata's backup at one defensive tackle position is Brandon Bair, who played for the Ducks 2007-10, and is now a defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs.
At the other defensive tackle position I like Vince Goldsmith. Goldsmith was only 5'11", 230-lbs, but that didn't stop him. Goldsmith was the first Oregon defensive lineman to receive the Morris Trophy as the league's top lineman.
Goldsmith was a two-sport phenom. He remains sixth on Oregon's all-time best shot put list, as well as being named second-team All-America for football.
Goldsmith's Dream Team backup is Arik Armstead. Yeah, I know he hasn't played a single down yet for the University of Oregon, but we're optimistic, aren't we?
Nick Reed is considered among the top defensive linemen in Oregon's history. Reed holds the all-time quarterback sack record for the Ducks (29.5), and he had nine sacks in his last 12 games.
Reed was one of eight semifinalists for the Lott Trophy and one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award. Most impressive, Reed was the second player in Oregon history to earn first-team All-America on the field AND first-team All-Academic in the classroom. Smart, tough guy.
Nick Reed's backup is Terrell Turner. Turner makes the team because of his most excellent sack of Andrew Luck in last year's big game.
Right up there on the list of all-time quarterback sacks along with Nick Reed is defensive end Devan Long with 24.5 sacks. Long is also third on the all-time Oregon list of tackles for loss with 48.
Long is known to be a free spirit. He signed with the Carolina Panthers and then played in Europe, but a recurring groin injury took him out of football. Not sure what he's doing these days, but Duck fans loved watching him hit QBs.
If Long's groin is still bothering him, let's let Dion Jordan back him up at DE. Next year at this time, Jordan may be the starting DE on the Ducks' Dream Team.
The first linebacker position on the all-time Ducks Dream Team was an easy selection. Dave Wilcox is one of the all-time great Oregon players on either side of the ball.
Wilcox only played two years at Oregon (1962-63) after transferring from Boise Junior College. While at Oregon, the tough kid from Ontario, Oregon, only made third-team All-Coast. It was at the next level that he earned his place in Duck football lore.
Drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Wilcox enjoyed an 11-year stellar pro career. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2000.
Let's select Casey Matthews, currently playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, to back up Dave Wilcox.
Right behind Nick Reed on the all-time quarterback sack list for the Ducks is linebacker Ernest Jones. At No. 2 on the QB sack list with 29, Jones is also No. 5 on Oregon's all-time tackles-for-loss list with 43.
Jones spent six seasons in the NFL, and won a Super Bowl ring with the 1997 Denver Broncos. Injuries forced him out of the game. He was always a driven and motivated player, and I'll bet he's got a successful post-NFL career.
Backing up Jones at middle linebacker will be Kevin Mitchell—and it was a close call between these two. Mitchell, a fan favorite, was one of the Ducks' defensive leaders from 2001-03 and he was a tackling machine. He still ranks No. 4 on the all-time tackles-for-loss list with 44.
Tom Graham, shown here with Dan Fouts and Bobby Moore (Ahmad Rashad), played for Oregon 1969-71. He was often overshadowed by the flashier Fouts and Moore on what was a terrific Ducks team.
Graham is the all-time leader in tackles for Oregon with 433 stops in his three seasons as a Duck. He never really got the attention he deserved because of his highly visible teammates on the other side of the ball. But Graham was a defensive rock, and was named to the Pac-8's first team in 1970.
Graham's Dream Team backup is Joe Farwell. Many of you are kicking and screaming right now because Farwell probably deserves a starting role, and it was a close call.
Farwell, who played for the Ducks from 1989-92, is the only player in Oregon's history to lead the Ducks in tackles for three straight seasons (John Boyett has been the lead tackler in two of his past three seasons). With 393 career tackles, Farwell is third on the all-time list.
Even if Kenny Wheaton had only made the one play that changed Oregon football forever, he would still be on the Dream Team.
But Wheaton did so much more for the Ducks than 1994's "The Pick," that sent the Ducks flying south to their first Rose Bowl berth in 37 years.
Wheaton led the team in interceptions for three straight years, and led the conference in 1995 as a sophomore. Wheaton also led the team in tackles (73) his junior year.
Beyond "The Pick," Wheaton is probably best known for becoming the first player in Oregon history to enter the NFL Draft early. If he had stayed for his senior season, Wheaton most likely would have rewritten the Ducks' interception record book. Instead, he was the third-round selection of the Dallas Cowboys.
Oregon has had a lot of terrific cornerbacks over the years, so someone will get left out on this Dream Team. Let's go with Mario Clark as Wheaton's backup. Clark (1972-75) is sixth on Oregon's interception list with 13, and always seemed to be where the ball was.
Clark also has the distinction of being Oregon's first true freshman to start at DB, and was also the Pac-8's first freshman to win conference defensive player of the week.
Alex Molden and Kenny Wheaton overlapped for two years at the cornerback position, and it's no coincidence that the Oregon Ducks had good success during those years.
Molden broke into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman and never looked back. He ended his Oregon career with 206 tackles and 11 interceptions, and he still holds down the No. 1 spot on the passes broken up list with 60. Pity the poor QB who tried to throw the ball when Molden and Wheaton were in the game.
It's a tie to backup Molden between Walter Thurmond III, he of the two-percent body fat (2006-09), and Steve Smith (1998-01), second on the passes broken up list, and sixth on the interceptions list.
What about Rashad Bauman, Jairus Byrd, Eric Castle and, yes, even Cliff Harris you're saying? I know, I know—there are just too many quality CBs to choose from.
Patrick Chung was one of the most reliable Duck players ever. You knew when he was on the field the Ducks were safe. And isn't that the very definition of safety?
Chung started more games than any other defensive player in Oregon history, with 51 straight starts. He was the heart of a good Oregon defense, and opted to return for his senior year instead of entering the NFL Draft early. Chung is fourth on Oregon's all-time tackles list with 384.
One of the more interesting things about Chung is his ethnic make-up; he is Chinese/Jamaican, a combo that is probably unique in football.
Chung was drafted in the second round in the 2009 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, and is starting his fourth season with them as starting safety. He was one of the stars in the Pats first preseason game last week, intercepting a pass and helping to keep the Saints out of the end zone.
For Chung's backup let's go with a player cut from the same cloth—John Boyett. Boyett (John Boyett for Heisman) shares many of Patrick Chung's traits. He is the current heart of Oregon's defense and is extremely reliable.
Boyett only needs three interceptions in 2012 to break into the Ducks' all-time Top 10 list, and he only needs 58 tackles to break into that list's Top 10 as well. He will get both in the upcoming season.
You know that it was painful to not assign John Boyett a starting position on the Ducks' Dream Team. While Boyett may eventually become Oregon's all-time safety, it's just not possible to leave off Chad Cota.
Cota was the foundation of the Ducks' Gang Green defense in the 1994 Rose Bowl season. Cota started 43 straight games for Oregon and ended up No. 8 on the all-time tackles list with 336. In his senior season, Cota was the Ducks' defensive MVP (playing with guys like Alex Molden and Kenny Wheaton!), and first-team All-America.
Cota's sensational play in 1994 was one of the keys to the Ducks winning the Pac-10 championship. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers and played eight years in the NFL, including appearing in the Super Bowl.
Cota's backup is George Shaw (1951-54). Shaw was one of the most versatile of athletes to play at Oregon, and you will find him on the offensive side of this Dream Team as well. He was the No. 1 draft pick by the Baltimore Colts, for whom he played quarterback. But in his freshman year at Oregon, Shaw played DB and had 18 interceptions, which is still No. 1 on the Ducks' all-time list.
Because we have so many contenders at cornerback, and because Shaw will also play offense on this Dream Team, we are moving him to backup Cota at safety. Shaw was so great and so versatile, he could play anywhere.
The big guy is Lucas
Enoka Lucas is, frankly, the only center that springs to my mind (I'm sure you'll remind me of other deserving centers I've overlooked.)
Lucas was known for his hard work and his strength. He still holds the top bench press (455 lbs) by an offensive lineman. Lucas was the glue on one of the Ducks' good O-lines.
After his college career, Lucas was signed by the Houston Texans, and played several years in the NFL for various teams.
The only other center I can think of is Dan Weaver (2002-03) out of Redmond, Oregon, so he gets to backup Lucas. Weaver was a 300-pound giant, and won the Moshofsky Award twice.
NFL Hall of Famer Gary Zimmerman is the best offensive lineman to ever play at Oregon, and only one of six Ducks to make the HOF.
He was relentless, both in college and later in his professional career. Zimmerman started his pro career in the USFL, alongside other future Hall of Famers like 49ers QB Steve Young. He then went on to play for the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos, retiring in 1997 after the Broncos won the Super Bowl.
I'm not sure Zimmerman needs a backup, but let's go with Steve Barnett (1960-62). Barnett's terrific play in the trenches led to QB Bob Berry and RB Mel Renfro setting all sorts of records on offense.
Dan Fouts had Tom Drougas to thank for protecting him from the bad guys when he led the Pac-10 in passing in 1970. And, Bobby Moore skirted through many a hole opened by Drougas when he led the conference in rushing in 1971.
Drougas was one of the best players to come from Oregon; he played at Portland-area Sunset High School. He was drafted 22nd overall in the 1972 NFL Draft by Baltimore, and played professionally for five years.
Backing up Drougas is Max Unger (2005-08). Honestly, Unger could back up any OL position, having played guard in high school, tackle and center at Oregon, and now the starting center for the Seattle Seahawks. He deserves to be in the company of Gary Zimmerman and Tom Drougas.
According to his bio on GoDucks.com, George Dames was among the smallest players at guard, but had the biggest heart.
Dames was known for dominating opposing defenses, especially in his senior season. Also that year, his teammates selected Dames as their MVP.
We're going to go with Mark Asper (2007-11) as Dames' backup at guard. Asper saw action at both tackle and guard in his Oregon career, and was one of the key offensive linemen contributing to LaMichael James' success.
Part of a team that made it to Oregon's first ever National Championship Game and went on to victory in the Rose Bowl, Asper deserves to be on our Dream Team, regardless of how he fares with his pro career.
I love this photo of Adam Snyder playing with the 49ers, don't you? Dirty, sweaty, yelling—everything an offensive lineman should be.
Snyder is all of that and more. During his years at Oregon, Snyder was one of the most decorated linemen of all time, including winning the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10's top lineman.
Drafted by the 49ers in Round 3 in 2005, Snyder just signed a five-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
Let's let Mark Asper back up Snyder too.
Ed Dickson was the best tight end who ever played for the Ducks. Period.
I know you're saying: But what about Russ Francis? More on him in a minute.
Dickson deserves this spot on the Dream Team primarily because of his 124 career receptions, the most catches ever by an Oregon tight end. Additionally, Dickson had 1,557 yards receiving, also tops for Duck tight ends. In 2009, Dickson was the lone Duck on the Pac-10's first team, which still seems incredible to me considering LaMichael James was on that team.
Dickson was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, for whom he now plays. He injured his right shoulder in a preseason game last week but is expected to be ready to go for the first regular-season game.
Dickson's backup on our Dream Team is "all-world" Russ Francis. The tight end, a favorite of long-time announcer Howard Cosell who coined the "all-world" term, is Dickson's backup because he only played one season (1973) for Oregon.
Francis, despite lettering in college only one year, is regarded as one of the NFL's best ever tight ends. He retired in 1989 after a 14-year career with the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers, with whom he won the 1985 Super Bowl.
Samie Parker was pure joy as a Duck, and he could light up Autzen Stadium like it was the Fourth of July.
If it's statistics you want, check out these for Parker: first in career receiving yards (2,761), tied for first in number of career pass receptions (178), tied for first in season pass receptions (77) and second in season receiving yards (1,088).
Parker was Joey Harrington's favorite target, and he possessed track and field speed, along with a nose for the end zone. Parker was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in Round 4 of the 2004 Draft.
Backing up Parker—and this will probably be controversial since he's tied with Parker in two of the statistical categories mentioned above—is recent, and totally awesome Jeff Maehl (2007-10).
Maehl also had 178 career pass receptions and 77 season pass receptions. But he's below Parker on receiving yardage, although in the Top 10 on both season and career lists.
Put either one of these dudes on the Ducks' Dream Team and you will have a player who can catch the ball when it counts.
My selection for the other wide receiver position on the Dream Team is Bob Newland.
That's because he is my favorite Duck player of all-time, and because he had a year in 1970 that anyone who witnessed it will never forget. Newland caught 67 passes for 1,123 yards and seven touchdowns. That receiving yardage total puts Newland No. 1 on the all-time season record.
Every year since 1970 we think a wide receiver will break Newland's total, but it hasn't happened. Samie Parker and Jeff Maehl came close, but Bob Newland is still the big cigar.
Newland was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1971 and played four years before succumbing to injuries. An Oregon boy through and through, he still lives in Eugene.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tie to backup Newland: Tony Hartley (1996-99) and Keenan Howry (1999-02). There's not much statistically between the two. They are Nos. 2 and 3 on the career receiving-yardage list, and are both in Top 10 for total passes caught. I liked them both enormously, so you decide.
And what about Lew Barnes?? Tough category.
The. Greatest. Ever.
In a school known for good running backs for many decades, James was the cream of the crop. We'll be lucky if we ever see another RB as talented, hard-working and big-hearted as LaMike.
James didn't smash all the Oregon statistical categories, but only because he played three years instead of four. He would have obliterated the record books this year. As it stands now, his single season rushing record set in 2010 of 1,840 yards, with a 144.2 average yards per game is going to be tough to beat. And James' 144 points scored in a single season (2010) is also the new standard.
It feels strange to select Derek Loville as anyone's backup, but we have to put him somewhere. Loville, who did play four years (1986-89) for the Ducks, holds most of the career rushing records.
Loville was never drafted by an NFL team, but still managed to play eight years for three different teams: Seattle, San Francisco and Denver.
Because Oregon doesn't use a strict fullback usually, I'm cheating a little bit here to select Jonathan Stewart to another back position on our Dream Team. Any objections? I didn't think so.
Stewart's combination of strength and speed made him a highly efficient RB in Oregon's system. He's right there in virtually every statistical category with LaMichael James and Derek Loville. Stewart's tendency to meet defenders head on and carry them along with him seemed more fullback-like.
Stewart opted out of his senior season, and was drafted in the first round (13th overall pick) by the Carolina Panthers in the 2008 NFL Draft. He's entering his fifth year with the Panthers.
In what universe is Ahmad Rashad a back-up running back? On the Ducks Dream Team, I'm afraid. As Bobby Moore (1969-71), he was superb running the ball for the Ducks, and he appears on Oregon's all-time rushing Top-10 lists. But he comes in behind James, Loville and Stewart in my book.
This slide is also slightly cheating, since there is no actual position on our Dream Team for "Athlete." There should be, however, because Oregon has had some doozies over the years.
Consider Mel Renfro (1961-63). In those days, great athletes played both sides of the ball. As a running back, Renfro wrapped up his three-year collegiate career holding the then-school record in rushing yards and points scored. Simultaneously, he was also one of the top defensive backs in the entire country.
Oh, and did I mention that Renfro was also a track star? To the tune of helping the Oregon 4x400 team set the world record in 1961, and finishing second in the 1962 NCAA 120-yard high hurdles.
Renfro almost pales in comparison to George Shaw (1951-54). Shaw was an All-American in both football and baseball, and was the No. 1 draft pick by the NFL's Baltimore Colts in 1955.
Shaw spent four years as a Duck and played quarterback, flanker, halfback and defensive back. And, uh, he was also the punter, kicker and punt returner. S'pose he needed an ice bath after the games?
Shaw's professional football career lasted seven seasons.
You certainly can't have a Dream Team without a kicker and a punter.
Quick: who has scored the most career points in history for Oregon? The answer is kicker Jared Siegel with 323 points. Siegel was 176 of 180 in PATs, and 49 of 69 in field goals. Good enough for me.
Josh Bidwell is sixth on the Ducks' career punting average list, but I liked him the best of all Oregon's punters, so he's on the Dream Team. Bidwell has also had a 12-year professional career with Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the Washington Redskins.
How is it possible to select only one quarterback for the Ducks Dream Team? What's the criteria? Best passing stats, total offense, where they took the team, what they did for the school overall, best pro career?
There is no doubt that Dan Fouts is one of Oregon's all-time great QBs, but he's only sixth on the career passing list. However, Fouts had an outstanding 14-year professional career and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. How can you say he isn't the guy for our Dream Team?
Norm Van Brocklin isn't on the statistical lists at all because we didn't track these sorts of stats in 1947-48 when he played. But Van Brocklin originated Oregon's quarterback legacy; he was the first QB All-American for the Ducks. He, too, is in the NFL Hall of Fame.
Pro football Hall of Famers are an easy choice, right? Yes, unless your criteria for the Dream Team is based on all-time Oregon stats. Here are your career passing and total offense QBs in order (and it's the same order in both categories):
1. Bill Musgrave (!) 2. Danny O'Neil 3. Kellen Clemens 4. Joey Harrington 5. Chris Miller
After Miller, the order changes and you can throw in Akili Smith, Dennis Dixon, Tony Graziani and Jeremiah Masoli.
And, if all that isn't enough for you, maybe our Dream Team QB should be Darron Thomas. He did, after all, take the Ducks further than any QB before him.
Your call. I haven't a clue.
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