This post is part of a week-long series sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
Would it be too cliche to say Donovan McNabb? I think it is. Kinda like a Yankee fan saying their favorite player is Derek Jeter or a Colts fan saying their favorite player is Peyton Manning. Such a boring choice, regardless of whether or not it's warranted.
At least I have good reason to choose Donny. I was there for his sophomore, junior and senior years. I watched almost every important game he ever played in a Syracuse uniform. I would see him on campus and blush like a little girl if he ever looked in my direction. He high-fived my mom on the Carrier Dome turf, for God's sake.
That said, I wouldn't exactly say McNabb is my "all-time, number one favorite" player. I don't think I have one. It's McNabb by default, really. Superstars have been hard to come by in Central New York and we instinctively gravitate to the few ones we do encounter. Besides, there's only so many guys whose jersey can be sold in the bookstore.
However what makes college football so fun is that there are so many non-superstars that become fan favorites for the strangest of reasons. We like guys cause of their names (#Shamarko!), we like guys cause of one special moment or play (LICHTENSTEIN!), we like guys cause of a memorable game (Diamond Ferri) and perhaps because we shared a class with them or have a particular off-the-field memory of them.
I have two distinct eras to cull from when thinking of who my favorite players are. 1996 - 2000, when I was at SU. 2005 - Present, when I was writing this blog. Everything before 1996 was before my time and the early part of the decade I can't really say I was paying nearly enough attention. So from those two eras, I choose these guys as the ones I think of most fondly.
Donovan McNabb - Pretty sure this requires no explanation. Of the many stats, records and stories from McNabb's time at SU, the fact that he started every single game during his four-year career at SU. We'd kill for a QB half as durable as that.
Pat Woodcock - Obviously.
Duke Pettijohn - Pettijohn and I had a class together and, really, that's all there is to it. We didn't talk much and there was no shared moment that I will relish for all my days. We sat within five feet of one another for a couple months and that qualified him to be one of my favorite players. That's how it works.
Tebucky Jones - First of all, his name is Tebucky. Second of all, he was a solid DB and playmaker that got picked in the first round of the NFL draft. Third...his name is Tebucky.
Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley - Boonah drew the short straw on when he came to SU. He played during the GRE, suffered a rough injury and never truly got the national respect he deserved. We didn't really learn how good of a guy he was until after he left SU. We at least got to see how good of a RB he was, even if it was for a short time.
Andrew Robinson - When I started this blog, I latched on to Robinson instantly. He was the heir apparent and the QB that was about to lead Syracuse back to glory. Intrinsically linked forever with Mike Williams, the both of them left Syracuse under much different scenarios than we first thought. It was a long, strange trip to say the least and when he left SU as a back-up TE, it seemed a disappointing finish. Though you'd never know that hearing Andrew talk. A classy guy and a great representative for the program.
Shamarko Thomas - Possibly the best first-name in the history of Syracuse football. He's only just beginning to make thatn ame stand for greatness on the field and not just on Twitter.
Ryan Lichtenstein - A country all too himself. The former walk-on kicked the game-winning field goal last season as time expired to beat Northwestern and make Syracuse fans feel like the curse was finally being lifted.
Everyone's got their own favorites. Who are yours?