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Volume 71, Issue 148, Thursday, July 6, 2006


Maisel's column a piece of work that begs commentary

Duke of Orleans

Ben Gegenheimer 

The huge college football fanatic that I am, I was intrigued this weekend as I searched and came upon college football guru Ivan Maisel's article "Prime Numbers," a tribute to the best college players ever to wear each jersey number. Maisel broke them down, from No.1 to No.100 -- there was actually a kicker from Kansas who wore No.100 in the late 1960s -- evaluating players from the old school all the way up to the top picks from the 2006 NFL Draft in April.

Needless to say, I had mixed emotions concerning some of Maisel's selections. Therefore, I will use this platform to express my viewpoint in regard to this wonderful piece of work. 

Best No.7: If you're 20 years old or younger, you're screaming for current Atlanta Falcon's quarterback Michael Vick, who wore No. 7 during his two seasons at Virginia Tech. That's because you were probably too young to witness possibly the greatest and most feared passing attack college football has ever seen. Maisel got it right in selecting former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel as the greatest college football player to ever wear No. 7. As the leader of former Gator coach Steve Spurrier's "Fun 'n' Gun" offense, Wuerffel guided Florida to four consecutive South Eastern Conference titles along with a national championship in 1996. In 1996, Wuerffel also took home the top individual awards for a college quarterback, including the Davey O'Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Award, the Walter Camp Award and the Maxwell Award. Between 1993-96, Wuerffel threw for 10,875 yards, 708 completions and 114 touchdowns. 

Wuerffel's Gators were fun to watch because they had the potential to score a touchdown on every play. I vividly remember those Saturday afternoons, watching Wuerffel drop back and launch a bomb down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown, sending the home crowd at "The Swamp" in Gainesville into frenzy.

His NFL career only lasted seven seasons, mostly as a backup, but Wuerffel's professional career should not be taken into account, being that this list is based solely on college careers. Maisel also noted honorable mention No.7 quarterbacks who were great college signal callers and were/are stellar NFL quarterbacks, including former league MVP and two-time Super Bowl champ John Elway from Stanford and former Miami (Ohio) quarterback Ben Roethlisbergery. 

Best No. 88: I was absolutely furious to see that Maisel selected former Oklahoma tight end Keith Jackson, who lined up for the Sooners during the mid-1980s, over current NFL superstar Randy Moss. Moss wore No. 88 at Marshall during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. Moss was definitely a better athlete than Jackson, measuring in at 6-5 and posting a 39-inch vertical to go along with his 4.25 time in the 40-yard dash. 

But the numbers are most convincing. Between 1984-87, Jackson caught a total of 62 passes for 1,407 yards during his a career as a key member of the Sooners' run-oriented offense.

After leading Marshall to the Div. I-AA national championship in 1996, Moss caught 90 passes for 1,647 yards and 25 touchdowns in his final season -- 12 games -- with the Thundering Herd, who moved up to I-A prior to the 1997 season. Moss, who was also a feared kick and punt returner, totaled 174 receptions, 3,529 yards and 53 touchdown receptions during his career at Marshall. He also finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 1997 and took home the Fred Belitnikoff Award as the best receiver in college football that year. 

Maisel did not even include Moss in his honorable mention list, which led me to believe that he allowed Moss' past troubles with the law to factor into his decision; a bad mistake by Maisel. 

If he was simply judging players and athletes, Moss should have been one of the first names to come to mind, even if he wore No. 547.

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