Athlon looks at the 10 greatest players since 1967.
A two-time All-Pac-10 lineman, Chorak was one of the top players at the end of Don James’ tenure in Seattle. Chorak holds the school record for career tackles for a loss with 61.5, 10.5 more than anyone else in program history (Ron Holmes). In 1996, Chorak had 22 tackles for a loss and 14.5 sacks, which remains the Huskies’ single-season record.
Kreutz was a consensus All-American and the top blocker in the Pac-10 during his senior in 1997. A three-year starter, Kreutz blocked for Corey Dillon in 1996 when he rushed for a school-record 1,695 yards. He also snapped to prolific quarterbacks Damon and Brock Huard in his career. The Hawaiian lineman was a third round draft pick of the Chicago Bears and went on to a 14-year career as one of the NFL best centers for more than a decade.
Lewis won the first Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back, after rushing for a then-school record 1,407 yards in 1990. He started that season on a tear, rushing for at least 100 yards in each of the first nine games. He finished up with 128 yards and a touchdown in a 46-34 Rose Bowl win over Iowa in what was then the highest scoring Rose Bowl game in history. It was also Washington’s first Rose Bowl appearance in a decade and first victory in 13 years. Lewis is Washington’s fourth leading career rusher with 2,903 yards.
Another key player during Don James’ legendary tenure at Washington, Holmes started to make his mark as a sophomore in 1982. He was an All-Pac-10 performer in 1983 with a school-record 23 tackles for a loss as a junior. In his senior season, Holmes was a consensus All-American and the Pac-10’s top lineman in 1984 as the Huskies’ reached the Orange Bowl. At 11-1, Washington hoped to make the case for a national title after defeating second-ranked Oklahoma in the bowl game, but BYU ended up with the title. Holmes left Washington with a school-record 28 career sacks in 1984, a record that stood until 2009. Holmes died in October 2011. He was 48.
When N.C. State’s David Amerson intercepted 13 passes in 2011, he was the first player to threaten Worley’s single-season record in roughly 20 years. Worley intercepted 14 passes in 1968, and Amerson was the first FBS player to pick off more than 12 since Worley’s career year. The 14-interceptoin mark will be tough to match, but his per-game performance will be even tougher. Worley accomplished his feat in only 10 games. Worley was something of a one-year wonder, though. He had four career interceptions entering his final season, or the same amount as he would have in a midseason game against Idaho in 1968.
When Washington won a share of the national title in 1991, Kaufman’s career was just getting started. He was the third-leading rusher on the championship-winning team but finished as the Huskies’ career leading runner. He rushed for 1,390 yards in 1994 and 1,299 yards in 1993, helping him to become the first Washington back to cross the 4,000-yard mark for his career. Chris Polk joined him in 2011, but came 57 yards short of Kaufman’s record of 4,106 yards. A quick, little running back Kaufman averaged 5.6 yards per carry in his career. He also holds the Washington record with 34 career rushing touchdowns.
Blocking for quarterbacks Mark Brunell and Billy Joe Hobert and running back Napoleon Kaufman, Kennedy allowed only two sacks in his four seasons at Washington, which were among the best years in school history. In his two seasons as starting tackle, the Huskies went 21-3, including the 1991 national title, two Rose Bowls and a 20-game win streak. Kennedy was twice named the Pac-10 lineman of the year and earned consensus All-America honors in 1992. The Atlanta Falcons selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 1993 draft.
With his Cherokee heritage, his No. 6 jersey and his prolific passing, Sixkiller was a phenomenon at Washington in the early 1970s. He was not close to his cultural background as a child growing up in Oregon, but he became a symbol for athletes of Native American heritage, a lineage which includes former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. On the field, Sixkiller pulled Washington out of a decade of mediocrity when he became the starting quarterback in 1970. The Huskies went 3-5-2 in 1968 and 1-9 in 1969 before going 22-10 in Sixkiller’s three seasons under center. He led the nation in passing as a sophomore at 230.3 yards per game and finished his career with 5,496 yards. He held Washington’s career passing record for 23 years, the single-game passing record (387 yards vs. Purdue in 1971) for 18 years, and the single-season record (2,303 yards in 1970) for 10 years.
Moon started his college career in junior college, but landed at Washington when coach Don James offered him the opportunity to play quarterback when other programs would not. Moon passed for 1,106 yards on a 5-6 team in James’ second season in 1976, but he blossomed as a senior. Moon was the Pac-8 Player of the Year in 1977 as he passed for 1,584 yards with 11 touchdowns. He capped his collegiate career with an MVP performance in the Rose Bowl against Michigan. Moon was 12-of-23 for 188 yards with two touchdowns against the Wolverines in Washington’s first Rose Bowl appearance in 14 years. He started his professional career in the Canadian Football League but became a trailblazer for black quarterbacks in the NFL when he signed with the Houston Oilers in 1984.
A two-time state champion in discus and a basketball player at Cheney High in Eastern Washington, Emtman headed west to Seattle to play for the Huskies, where he became the most decorated player on Washington’s best team. With Emtman anchoring the defensive line in 1991, Washington went 12-0 and won the coaches’ vote for national champion (Miami won the Associated Press title). Emtman was a unanimous All-America that season and won the Lombardi and Outland trophies. In his final two seasons in 1990-91, Washington went 22-2 overall and 15-1 in the Pac-10 while winning two Rose Bowls. In two seasons, Emtman had 134 tackles and 14 sacks before the Indianapolis Colts selected him first overall in the 1992 draft.
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