My favorite Huskies, Part I
Malamute, 23 May 2005
Hugh McElhenny as a 49'er. Photo by Frank Rippon
George Wilson may be the greatest of the greats,
but I can only comment on those Husky players I have been fortunate enough
to see in person. That leaves out Chuck Carroll and one of the ancients I love to read about,
"Wee" Coyle, who played for Gil Dobie.
Although the players in my list may not be the best of all
time, these are the ones that brought me to my feet more often than not. Others
worked silently in the trenches, sharing responsibility for the success of a
great running back. Still others played on the defensive side of the ball.
Here are my first five favorites, regardless of position.
Curiously, all of their last names could be a lesson in spelling. This list, which dates back to World War II, will be continued
on in the next installment.
1. RB Hugh McElhenny, 1949-1951
Each time Hurricane Hugh
touched the ball, he brought tachycardia and arrhythmia to the fans, to both
friends and foes alike. Each of his heart-stopping carries threatened to take it to the house. He could
turn a five-yard run into bullying mayhem, a ten-yard run into a bad guy's worst nightmare. His longer runs were things of beauty, like a slalom skier
brushing poles during a twisting downhill run. The king of prepositions and
adulations, Hugh could run over you, through you, around you and beyond you.
Depending on the urgency of the situation, his strong legs
could be the thrusting pistons of a Mac Truck or carry him with the speed of an
Indianapolis race car. His punishing stiff arm was a left jab out of the 1945
Joe Louis exhibition in Seattle.
In the late forties and early fifties, Seattle was a minor
league town that needed a big-league athlete and McElhenny was a big-time player
that put Seattle on the map.
I’ll never forget Hurricane Hugh racing the opening
kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown against the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis
near the beginning of the 1949 season. His lightening gallop--a seminal run in
my Husky ana--shocked the partisan crowd, electrified Husky fans and emblazoned “SEATTLE”
boldly onto the map. Was it Ted Bell who called that game?
During his era, McElhenny was one of college football’s
biggest, fastest running backs. His mean streak on the field belied his
friendliness off the field. Hurrying Hugh rescued a provincial seaport
town from obscurity. As of now, the King lives on in perpetuity, as my
greatest of the greats.
Here's a link to a video
of Hugh's running style, a style that labeled him as the King of broken-field
The King is a member of
the prestigious Pro Football Hall of Fame (inducted in 1970), the College
Football Hall of Fame (inducted in 1982) and the Washington Hall of Fame
(inaugural group in 1979). He was also selected to the Washington Centennial
team in 1990. He is also a member of the East-West Shrine Game Hall of Fame,
having played in the 1951 classic. McElhenny was honored as Seattle’s Man of the
Year for Sports in 1951.
Also reference: The untold story of Hugh
McElhenny, the king of Montlake
2. QB Marques Tuiasosopo, 1997-2000
Vatia, American Samoa is the source of the
Tuiasosopo name worldwide.
Marques' grandfather, Chief Asovalu Tuiasosopo, presides over the Vatian
village of 800 and is one of six living men holding the rank of High Talking
His grandson, the Warrior, was a dual-threat
quarterback who brought leadership and inspiration to his team. Marques led the
Huskies to a win over Purdue in the 2001 Rose Bowl. Also, his record setting day
and the “Drive,” with acknowledgement to John Elway, are worthy of mention.
The University of Washington
Junior quarterback, who had been penciled in as a defensive back on most 1997
recruiting charts, proved again he could pass as well as run in a record-setting
day against Stanford in 1999.
Against the Tree, Tuiasosopo, passed for 302 yards and ran for 207 yards, becoming the first
player in NCAA Division I-A history to rush for 200 yards and pass for 300 in
the same game.
Tui and the Dawgs won the game
A year later, the Warrior
brought the Huskies back against Stanford in the last 47 seconds of the game,
behind 28-24, their hopes of getting to the Rose Bowl seemingly dashed by a
relentless rain storm and the demoralizing effects of what appeared to be a
life-threatening injury to DB Curtis Williams.
On the sidelines, Tui told his
offense, "He's a warrior. Look up the definition of a Husky and you'd find the
name Curtis Williams. He'd want us to win the game."
On the “Drive,” Tuiasosopo made
his three longest completions of the game, 27 yards to Todd Elstrom, 31 yards to
Wilbur Hooks and, with 17 seconds left on the clock, 22 yards to Justin Robbins for the winning score, 31-28.
One of the Huskies' fiercest competitor's of all time,
Tuiasospo's proud Samoan lineage speaks both for his desire to win and for all
of the fourth-quarter comebacks engineered during his career at Washington.
A close call for number one, Marques, like the King, is
descended from royal stalk.
3. RB Napolean Kaufman, 1991-1994
Napolean Kaufman’s sensational kickoff returns as a
freshman in 1991 were previews of his career at Washington and of one of the
Dawgs' greatest games.
Nip's pumping legs have been likened to sewing machine
needles at work, his bulging biceps being patently obvious.
Nip went on to be the Dawgs' career rushing leader,
amassing 4106 net yards. During his four-year career, he averaged 89.3 yards per
game, while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. His rushing yards per game ties him
with McElhenny as the Huskies' leader in that category (minimum of 18 games).
In 1994, Kaufman ran for 211 yards against Ohio State, and
the Huskies beat the Buckeyes at home, 25-16. The next game, the Huskies took to the road and upset the mighty Miami Hurricanes 38-20,
snapping the ‘Canes 58-game home winning streak. The "Whammy in Miami," as it
has been called, is a legendary win in Husky history.
One of the Huskies’ fastest ever, Nip ran a 4.31
electronically timed 40; also, he benched 425 pounds. Loyal to the program and Coach Jim Lambright,
he returned for his senior season in 1994, even though the Huskies were bowl
ineligible and suffering the effects of bloated recruiting sanctions.
In short, Nip was just plain, dawgerrific.
4. QB Bob Schloredt, 1957-1960
I remember a reporter and his
photographer interviewing and photographing Schloredt as he stood by the equipment he’d
set up for a lab experiment in physics. The flash bulbs that popped off that day
supplied the volts for the lightning that energized the Husky football program two years
later in 1959.
Later in the fall quarter, on a cold, cloudy day, I
watched Schloredt lead the freshmen team to a rout of the Coubabes, the freshmen
team from Washington State College.
The “One-eyed Quarterback,” was more than just a dual-threat quarterback. In the days of one-platoon football, he could punt and play
solid defense, too. On October 17, 1959, his dual against Willie Wood, the
Pac-10’s first black quarterback, is scripted in one of Husky Stadium’s greatest games. It pitted dual-threat quarterbacks whose defensive play was as important as
their contributions on offense. In the cliff hanger all the way, the Huskies (10-1) lost their only game of the
season, 22-15, to USC (8-2).
By winning the 1960 Rose Bowl
against Wisconsin, 44-8, Schloredt’s team also ended 13 years of embarrassment for
the old Pacific Coast Conference (then the AAWU), which had made a regular habit
of losing to the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, having lost 12 of the previous 13
Schloredt holds the Husky record for average yards per
punt, 57.0, set by his 6 punts for 342 yards against Colorado in 1959.
Schloredt was the 1960 and 1961 Rose Bowl MVP. He was
inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame in 1981 and into the National Foundation
College Hall of Fame in 1989.
What could the "One-eyed Quarterback" have done with two
5. QB Don Heinrich, 1949-1952
Hailing from Bremerton,
Washington, Don Heinrich came to the University of Washington in 1949. He sat
out the 1951 season because of a shoulder separation.
In the same backfield with
Roland Kirkby and Hugh McElhenny, Heinrich helped Washington post an 8-2 record
in 1950, the Huskies’ most successful season within the 13-year period beginning
in 1946 and ending in 1958.
During those 13 lean years,
Washington posted a record of 52 wins, 71 losses, and 5 ties.
first varsity season, 1950, the "Arm" was named to the Associated Press All
American team. In that year, Heinrich completed an NCAA-record 134 passes, with a 60.6%
he again led the nation in passing with 137 completions and finished his Husky
career with 4392 yards and 33 touchdowns.
played seven seasons in the National Football league with the New York Giants
and the Dallas Cowboys.
Heinrich was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Husky Hall
of Fame in 1981.
After his playing career ended,
Heinrich coached with the Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh
Steelers, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers over a span of 15 seasons.
Heinrich went on to a successful
broadcasting career, mostly as a color man, doing games for the Seattle
Seahawks, the 49ers, ESPN, and the Washington Huskies.
In 1992, Heinrich died of
pancreatic cancer at the age of 61. He fought the disease with the courage and
dignity he had shown the sports world.
Born in 1930, Heinrich played
sandlot football at the age of 10 -- like most boys growing up in the state of
Washington at the time. A natural leader, he drew plays in the sand with
complicated crossing routes and button hooks. Don Heinrich will always be a Husky legend.
Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at