Dawgman.com Football 105: 30-21

Billy Joe Hobert (UW Media Relations)

With fall camp here and Washington football back in full swing, Dawgman.com has unveiled something we've been working on the last couple of months. It's the Dawgman 105, a comprehensive list of who we have picked as the greatest Washington football players and coaches of all time.

This list was initially compiled by Dawgman.com Editor-In-Chief Chris Fetters and Andy Poehlman, a longtime contributor to Dawgman.com and Sports Washington magazine. Dave Samek, the Dawgman, broke all ties and put the complete list together. Then it was sent to Dave Torrell, the Curator of the Husky Hall of Fame, for some final tweaking. And what you see today is the eighth segment of our final list.
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30. Calvin Jones - Jones' career at UW is one of most important ones to talk about because he was instrumental in arguably the biggest change ever to happen to Washington football. Seeing other African-Americans the target of institutionalized racism amongst the UW coaching staff in 1969 and 1970, Jones - who broke all of O.J. Simpson's prep rushing records in San Francisco - and two of his African-American teammates, Ira Hammon and Mark Wheeler, held a press conference in 1970 to announce they were quitting UW football because of the racial abuse they had witnessed themselves and anecdotally through their teammates - players like Ralph Bayard, who once ran compliance for UW, and also current UW Football Chaplain Gregg Alex. Jones received death threats, and moved out of Seattle to eventually play football at Long Beach State. But the press conference reverberated through the Washington Athletic Department and university, resulting in massive culture change. Hired as Athletic Director was Don Smith, an African-American. Two African-American assistant coaches were hired, as well as an African-American woman to help administrate. Her name? Gertrude Peoples. Smith implored Jones to return to Seattle, which he did - even though those the most upset with his return in Seattle were the UW African-American students, calling him an Uncle Tom. Jones' return was an impressive one; as a senior in 1972 Jones won it all; All-Pac-8, All-Coast and All-American honors, as well as winning the Guy Flaherty award. Jones, at 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, was reported to be able to jump and hold onto the crossbar - which made him Nate Robinson before there was Nate Robinson.

29. Jake Locker - There has not been another player in the modern era of Husky football that equates with Montlake Jake. It felt like he took the entire program on his broad shoulders and carried it through its darkest days across a river of despair. Recently, when asked for one word to describe Jake Locker, Sean Parker (who only overlapped with Jake one year) said simply, "savior." It's hard to argue. When Jake Locker signed to play at the University of Washington, he was coming off a high school state championship, as soon as he started practicing, his gifts were apparent and as soon as Isaiah Stanback left the starting QB job open, the redshirt freshman stepped right in. In Jake's first game, he absolutely electrified Husky fans and shocked a lifeless Syracuse team. His second game, against Ohio State, he showed he could compete with the most talented players in the country, but as the season wore on worries that Jake didn't have the passing accuracy to be a QB mounted and a once-hailed savior was hearing jeers about how he should be moved to Safety. Of course, then came the darkest hour, 2008. Jake broke his thumb blocking against Stanford and the program fell flat on the mat. When Jake returned healthy the next year it was with a new coach (Steve Sarkisian) and a new mentor (Doug Nussmeier) and a vastly improved air game. Jake still ran, but his arm was now center stage and after that golden arm embarrassed Cal, it was assumed Jake would take that golden arm and claim riches in the NFL. However, the reason why Parker said "savior" of course is that Jake cared more about getting the Huskies to a bowl game than NFL riches and came back for a senior season in which he suffered broken ribs, a precipitous NFL stock drop and a losing streak that brought his dream of returning the Huskies to a bowl within one game of being dashed. However, as we all know, Jake--broken ribs and all--gutted out three performances to finish the season with a record that would get Washington back to a bowl. In his final game, a 19-7 smack down (yes, it was a smack down) of Nebraska Jake scored the TD that put Washington ahead for good, in one play, bringing them their first winning season in eight years and their first bowl win in 10. Nobody has given more to Washington than Jake Locker. Following his final season, Jake was picked 8th overall by the Tennessee Titans.

28. Blair Bush - When one thinks about the great Husky centers of all time, it's hard not to put Blair Bush at the top. Perhaps he was the beneficiary of being the first big-time center of the UW modern era starting with Don James, but Bush personified the smart, tough, aggressive centers that would become a trademark for nearly 40 years. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Bush, from Palos Verdes, Calif. was the team captain of the 1977 breakthrough Rose Bowl team, winning All-Pac-10, All-Coast and All-American honors as a senior. His work off the field earned him a 1978 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship. The Cincinnati Bengals thought enough about Bush to pick him 16th overall in the 1978 NFL Draft, and Bush repaid the Bengals' faith by playing 17 years for them, the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams. Bush is one of a very select group of Huskies to have played in a Rose Bowl and also a Super Bowl, as he started for the Bengals in Super Bowl XVI, a Cincinnati team that also included Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz . Bush's work with the Seahawks from 1983-88 was strong enough to be named to the Seattle P-I's 25th Anniversary team. After his football career was done, Bush put his education to good use and is currently a financial analyst for Nordstrom. Named part of the 2008 Husky Hall of Fame class.

27. Mark Brunell - When Mark Brunell went down with a knee injury following his sophomore year in the 1991 spring game, the whole state of Washington felt the pain. Brunell, who had come to the UW from Santa Maria, CA, had just started to show maturity to go with his spark-plug play toward the end of 1990 on a team two or three plays away from a National Championship. In 1990 Brunell had shown flashes of brilliance, long runs, gutty plays, a strong arm, but his inexperience showed at times and he struggled to some extent with accuracy (struggles that were mitigated by the presence of Mario Bailey and Rod Jones), but 1991 was supposed to be his year. It turned out, of course, that 1991 was a great year for Brunell (he came back from his knee injury half way through the season) and he saw meaningful duty as the quarterback of team that did win the national championship and threw for a touchdown in the Rose Bowl game that cinched it. Brunell started out 1992 sharing duty with Billy Joe Hobert, but when Billy Joe became ineligible Brunell was called on to lead the psychologically gutted troops. Brunell had a career full of adversity at UW, but he is universally loved because of the exuberance and spirit he played the game with. The image of Mark Brunell to a Husky fan is an image from 1990 when those same Husky fans were realizing they were watching one of the best teams in the country. Brunell had many stand out performances and a long and distinguished career in the pros, but it was his electrifying play in 1990, when it felt like anything was possible and the sky was the limit (for both Brunell and the Huskies), Washington fans will remember him by. As it should be.

26. Rudy Mucha - You can thank a doctor for Rudy Mucha playing football at Washington. Alfred 'Doc' Strauss was a UW football player who became a pioneer in cancer research and one of the country's most respected surgeons. He moved to Chicago and just happened to recruit a bunch of Chicagoland players to Montlake in the 30's; Max Starcevich, Vic Markov, Roy Frankowski and Jay McDowell were future All-Americas recruited to UW by Strauss. Mucha was another one, one of a very select group of UW consensus All-Americans. Back when playing both ways was the norm, Mucha and Frankowski were a formidable duo in the middle of the Huskies offensive line and also was part of a defensive group that led to five shutouts in 1940. One of the great games of that era was a mid-season showdown at Stanford versus the then-No. 6-ranked Indians. UW went up 10-0 early before giving up a couple of key interceptions that helped propel the Indians to a 20-10 hard-fought win. The Huskies ended up ranked No. 10 that season. Mucha also made a big impact in his pro career, as he was drafted by Cleveland in the first round of the 1941 draft, the first year Washington had first-rounders. Back Dean McAdams was also picked in the first round. Mucha was Named part of the 1990 Husky Hall of Fame class.

25. Ron Holmes - I know a lot of people were disappointed that Timberline star Jonathan Stewart didn't pick Washington, but the Huskies already had a Blazer in their midst. His name was Ron Holmes. Graduating from Timberline in 1981, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive lineman came to UW and made his first impact as a sophomore in 1982 when he had nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss. By the time he graduated in 1984, Holmes helped the Huskies win an Orange Bowl and secure a No. 2 season ranking. That year Holmes was a First Team All-Conference and All-Coast pick, as well as a consensus First Team All-American; only eight players have been named consensus All-Americans since. Holmes also won the Morris Trophy that year, the second Husky to ever win the award following Fletcher Jenkins. Holmes finished second all time in sacks at Washington, his mark recently eclipsed by Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. Because of his stellar purple and gold pedigree, Holmes was selected by Tampa Bay in the first round of the 1985 NFL draft, the seventh UW player. He played four seasons for the Buccaneers, and then moved on to Denver, where he would eventually start at defensive end for the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV. Holmes was named as part of the 2001 Husky Hall of Fame class and unfortunately passed away last year at age 48. Even though Holmes was taken from us much too early, it still doesn't diminish the impact he had on UW football. Sonny Sixkiller talked glowingly about Holmes, calling him one of the greatest players he had ever seen at Washington, and Don James cited his athletic ability and his prowess as a prep basketball player that gave him a glimpse into the kind of impact player he would eventually become on the gridiron.

24. Reggie Williams - Easily one of the most clutch performers in Husky history, Reggie Williams not only put up numbers that were unheard of at Washington, but performed best in big games when the pressure was on. Known during his time at UW simply as "Reggie", Williams came to UW from Lakes HS one of the most fought over in-state recruits in the annals of recruiting and proceeded to have a career that matched every bit of the hype he received in high school. Often brash and clearly exuding the confidence that comes with being a prep All-American, Williams toyed with the emotions of UW fans everywhere when he did the commit 'hat dance' on Fox Sports Northwest, lingering with lids from Michigan and even almost putting on a UCLA hat before finally donning the purple and gold as Husky Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief. His antics also made him a bit of a marked man from the moment he stepped on campus; the upperclassmen were set on trying to shave his head when he got to fall camp at The Evergreen State College. Reggie left with his hair intact. Williams was the first UW player at the time to earn a start in his first collegiate game ever, and proceeded to catch four passes for 134 yards in a 23-18 comeback win over Michigan - including one long pass down the south sideline where he literally ran out of his shoe! He was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 2001 (an award he shared with Stanford's Teyo Johnson), the first UW player to have ever been bestowed with that honor. Williams used his size (6-3.5, 220), speed (4.5 in the 40) and leaping ability (36" vertical) to frustrate and dominate opponents, but when games were on the line (like Arizona in 2002) Reggie was at his best. So much so, that even though he bested Mario Bailey's career yardage mark (2,306) by over 1,000 yards (Williams finished with 3,598) he is more known for his clutch play than the records he set. Williams was particularly deadly against UW's big rivals. Williams had some of his best games against Oregon (130 yards in his senior year) and in the Apple Cup, going for 201 yards in his freshman year and 169 in his sophomore year. Williams left for the NFL and was picked 9th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

23. Lincoln Kennedy - Born Tamerlane Fizel Kennedy, "Lincoln" (who got that nickname because he shares a birthday with some former president) Kennedy came to Washington from Morse high school in San Diego as part of Washington's vaunted 1988 recruiting class (a class that contained guys like Steve Emtman, Mark Brunell, and others) because they promised him he could play defense. Shortly after his arrival, Washington switched its emphasis on defense to get speed and LK was summarily moved to offense. It turned out to be a brilliant turn. Kennedy started at both T and G in his sophomore year and quickly became one of the most formidable linemen not only in Washington history, but in the Pac-10. In a time where 300-pound linemen were rare, Kennedy was a behemoth (6-6 and north of 320), but was so agile he was used specifically in pulling duties at G in 1991. Kennedy was so outstanding he won the prestigious Morris Trophy twice (the only other Husky to do that is Steve Emtman) and in 1992 was a consensus All-American. Kennedy was drafted 9th overall by the Atlanta Falcons and went on to a long and prosperous NFL career and now resides in Arizona where he's been a broadcaster with Fox Sports and Fox Sports Radio for a number of years. Named part of the 2004 Husky Hall of Fame class.

22. Al Worley - Simply known as 'The Thief', the Wenatchee native in on the list for one attribute - but man, what an attribute it was! When it comes to NCAA records that will never be broken, there are two UW records that fall into that category. One will be the 61-game unbeaten streak led by Gil Dobie, and the other one is held by defensive back Al Worley. In one stunning season, Worley intercepted 14 passes in 10 games. Worley only played three seasons, but his career 18 interceptions still stands as a UW all time best. Even in his final game of the 1968 season - the Hula Bowl - Worley came up with a theft. For his amazing accomplishment, Worley was appropriately honored with every possible award in the books, named All-Conference, All-Coast and a consensus All-American - the first Washington defensive back to earn such acclaim. Only one other defensive back has matched it - Lawyer Milloy. Worley also claimed the UW all time record for interceptions in a game with four against Idaho. He was named part of the 1992 Husky Hall of Fame class.

21. Billy Joe Hobert - While it's true that Billy Joe never lost a game as the starting quarterback for Washington, the reality is calling Billy Joe a 'winner' is not really the right characterization. Winner is what you say about quarterbacks that happen to be on great teams and aren't that good themselves (cough:KenDorsey|JayBarker:cough). Billy Joe Hobert wasn't just a winner; Billy Joe Hobert was a killer. Coming out of Puyallup High (stop and think about the fact that his Puyallup team had two NFL quarterbacks on it), Billy Joe was as much a prototypical physical Don James QB as Cary Conklin or Steve Pelluer (big, athletic, strong arm) and from that standpoint he is pretty much like all the other excellent quarterbacks on this list. But the thing that separates Billy Joe from Pelluer and Chandler and Conklin is that you always got the sense he might have liked to have slipped into James Clifford's jersey and hoped no one noticed. He played brash and brutish football and he was a gambler who had guys like Mario Bailey, Beno Bryant and Lincoln Kennedy there to stack the deck for him. But in the end, the enduring image of Billy Joe will be him taking off out of the pocket, running that Tight End-esque stand up run, looking for someone to hit, finding them, delivering a blow and ending up in the end zone. Sure, there was the business about getting loans and all that, but who really cares? Billy Joe quarterbacked the Washington Huskies to a perfect season and embodied all the toughness and energy that makes UW football excellent. It's probably perfect that he was the one to do it. And he was also punted a little during the 1991 National Championship season. When's the last time Conklin of Pelluer did that? Unfortunately much of Hobert's legacy will be wrapped around an 'illegal loan' (that was in fact, legal) to buy a Camaro that was ultimately stolen and found stripped, riddled with bullets, and tagged with a special message for its owner. The words on the car read, 'You can't afford this, B.J.' But the loan was the smoking gun the NCAA needed to investigate UW, which eventually led to sanctions and the resignation of Don James just weeks before the 1993 season.

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