Top 40: QBs who faced Nevada Wolf Pack and went on to NFL, Part 4
The Nevada Wolf Pack football program has spent the bulk of its history toiling in obscurity but that doesn’t mean it has avoided playing future National Football League quarterbacks – 40, to be exact.
The Pack has a long – sometimes painful – history against future NFL quarterbacks, including one whose bust is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In part four of the four-part series, a look at numbers 1-10.
10. Josh Allen, Wyoming
ALLEN VS. PACK: Allen and Wyoming beat the Wolf Pack 42-34 in Laramie, Wyo., on Oct. 22, 2016. He completed just 9-of-13 passes for 145 yards as the Cowboys got 289 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Brian Hill. Allen, though, also caught a four-yard pass for a touchdown against the Pack.
ALLEN IN NFL: Allen was the seventh player overall taken in the 2018 draft by the Buffalo Bills and was almost immediately put in the starting lineup. Allen has played 28 games in the NFL with 27 starts with a 15-12 record. He has passed for 5,163 yards and 30 touchdowns.
9. David Carr, Fresno State
CARR VS. PACK: Carr started twice and played in three games against the Pack. He was just 1-of-2 with an interception in the Pack’s 27-24 win at Fresno on Sept. 26, 1998 in relief of Billy Volek. He then redshirted the 1999 season before returning as the starter in 2000 and 2001. Carr beat the Pack 58-21 at Fresno on Nov. 14, 2000. He was 7-of-12 for 92 yards before giving way to backup Jeff Grady. His 1-yard touchdown run was the first of his Fresno State career. The following year Carr beat the Pack 61-14 on Nov. 17, 2001 at Mackay Stadium, going 23-of-34 for 368 yards and four touchdowns.
CARR IN NFL: Carr was the overall No. 1 pick in 2002 by the Houston Texans. He played 94 games in his 11-year (2002-12) career for four teams (Houston, Carolina, New York Giants and the 49ers). He passed for 14,452 yards and 65 touchdowns with a record of 23-56 in 79 starts.
8. Jameis Winston, Florida State
WINSTON VS. PACK: Winston completed 15-of-18 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns in a 62-7 Seminoles’ win on Sept. 14, 2013. The Pack’s Bryson Keeton picked off one of his passes and Lenny Jones sacked him once.
WINSTON IN NFL: Winston was the No. 1 overall pick in 2015 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has passed for 19,737 yards and 121 touchdowns (and 88 interceptions) in five seasons, though he is now a free agent after losing his job to Tom Brady last month. Winston has played 72 games with 70 starts (28-42). Keeton was not the last to pick off one of his passes.
7. Ken O’Brien, UC Davis
O’BRIEN VS. PACK: O’Brien and Davis tied the Wolf Pack 13-13 on Sept. 13, 1980 at Mackay Stadium. O’Brien, a sophomore playing in his first game for Davis (he started his career at Sacramento State), was 18-of-30 for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
O’BRIEN IN NFL: O’Brien was picked in the first round of the 1983 draft by the New York Jets as part of one of the greatest quarterback classes in NFL history that also included Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and John Elway. He played 11 seasons (1983-93) with the Jets and Philadelphia Eagles, playing 129 games and starting 110 (50-59-1). O’Brien passed for 25,094 yards and 128 touchdowns.
6. Derek Carr, Fresno State
CARR VS. PACK: Carr played three games against the Pack, going up against Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo in each one, and won two of them. Carr completed 20-of-37 passes in a 45-38 Wolf Pack win on Oct. 22, 2011. He was 17-of-35 for 220 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-36 Fresno win at Mackay Stadium on Nov. 10, 2012 and completed 39-of-55 passes for 487 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-23 win in Fresno on Nov. 2, 2013. Future NFL wide receiver Davante Adams caught 17 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns in the 2012 and 2013 games combined.
CARR IN NFL: Carr was a second-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2014. He has passed for 22,793 yards and 143 touchdowns in six NFL seasons, playing and starting 94 games with a record of 39-55.
5. Jeff Garcia, San Jose State
GARCIA VS. PACK: Garcia played two wild, high-scoring, thrilling games against the Wolf Pack and nearly won them both. His first Pack battle was Nov. 7, 1992 in San Jose State. He completed 14-of-35 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns as San Jose State won 39-35 despite Chris Vargas and Fred Gatlin combining to complete 32-of-54 passes for 446 yards for the Pack. Nevada’s Bryan Reeves caught 15 passes for 161 yards and two TDs. The following year, on Nov. 6, 1993 in Reno, Vargas and Garcia hooked up for one of the more memorable games in Mackay Stadium history. Garcia, playing for former Denver Broncos head coach John Ralston, was 14-of-29 for 204 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for 87 yards on 14 carries while Vargas was 35-of-49 for 457 yards and four touchdowns. The Pack won 46-45 despite trailing 45-28 and survived only after San Jose State’s Joe Nedney barely missed a 62-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
GARCIA IN NFL: Garcia was not drafted in 1994 and spent his first five pro seasons playing in the Canadian Football League. The Gilroy, Calif., native, though, went on to play 11 seasons (1999-09) in the NFL with San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. He played 125 games and started 116 with a 58-58 career record. Garcia passed for 25,537 yards and 161 touchdowns in the NFL.
4. Kyler Murray, Texas A&M
MURRAY VS. PACK: Murray barely played against the Pack, coming on in relief of Kyle Allen in a 44-27 Texas A&M victory in front of 102,591 fans. Murray completed 2-of-4 passes for 32 yards and also ran the ball twice for 10 yards. He would leave Texas A&M after the 2015 season, sit out the 2016 season and play behind Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma in 2017 before starting in 2018.
MURRAY IN NFL: Murray is rated this high on this list not only for what he has done in the NFL but for what he might do. And it’s not often the Pack gets to play against a Heisman Trophy winner. After winning the Heisman in 2018, Murray was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He started all 16 games his rookie year in Arizona, passing for 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns and compiling a 5-10-1 record and was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
3. Eddie LeBaron, Pacific
LeBARON VS. PACK: LeBaron, who stood just 5-foot-7, helped Pacific roll over the Pack 47-6 in Stockton, Calif., on Oct. 8, 1949. LeBaron was just 7-of-21 through the air for 145 yards but he also intercepted two passes on defense, returning one 82 yards for a touchdown. He also tossed a 54-yard touchdown pass off a fake punt.
LeBARON IN NFL: LeBaron is one of the most iconic quarterbacks in NFL history. A lot of quarterbacks had better numbers, though LeBaron did pass for 13,399 yards and 104 touchdowns. He also ran for 650 yards and nine touchdowns in his career. He played 12 seasons in the NFL with Washington and Dallas over 134 games and 85 starts (28-54-3 record) despite not getting drafted until the 10th round. LeBaron was the first starting quarterback in Dallas Cowboys history. He fought in the Korean War. He became a lawyer. He was a CBS television announcer and the Atlanta Falcons’ general manager. He also was named to four Pro Bowls, the shortest quarterback in history to be named All Pro.
2. Randall Cunningham, UNLV
CUNNINGHAM VS. PACK: Cunningham completed 16-of-27 passes for 148 yards and rushed for 45 yards in a 28-18 UNLV victory on Sept. 3, 1983. He also averaged 58 yards on three punts, including a 73-yarder, the longest of his UNLV career. Cunningham tossed two touchdown passes, the second of which put the game away with two minutes left.
CUNNINGHAM IN NFL: A second-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1985, Cunningham turned in one of the most productive careers in NFL history. He played for four (Philadelphia, Minnesota, Dallas, Baltimore Ravens) teams over 17 seasons (1985-2001). Cunningham passed for 29,979 yards and 207 touchdowns. He led the NFL in 1988 with the Eagles with 3,808 yards and he led the league a decade later with Minnesota with 34 touchdown passes. Cunningham was also one of the best running quarterbacks in NFL history, gaining 4,928 yards and scoring 35 touchdowns.
1. Norm Van Brocklin, Oregon
VAN BROCKLIN VS. PACK: The sixth Oregon quarterback on this list (Herbert will likely be No. 7 someday), Van Brocklin was the victim of one of the greatest victories in Pack history. A crowd of 11,000 crammed Hayward Field on Oct. 4, 1947 to see Van Brocklin take on the Pack. Oregon, coached by former Pack coach Jim Aiken, took a quick 6-0 lead but the Pack emerged with a 13-6 upset victory. Van Brocklin was just 11-of-33 for 189 yards and the Ducks also fumbled the ball away six times, mostly during a rainy second half. Van Brocklin was also intercepted by the Pack’s Duke Lindeman, who returned it 75 yards for a touchdown in the second half.
VAN BROCKLIN IN NFL: Van Brocklin, a fourth-round pick (just 37th overall) in 1949, is the unquestioned No. 1 on this list for a number of reasons. He is a Pro Football Hall of Famer after passing for 23,611 yards and 173 touchdowns from 1949-60 with the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles. He was 61-36-4 in 101 starts. Van Brocklin also won a NFL championship in 1951 with the Rams and 1960 with the Eagles (for former Pack coach Buck Shaw). Van Brocklin was the 1960 NFL MVP and was named All-Pro nine times in his dozen seasons. He also was an NFL head coach with Minnesota and Atlanta for 13 seasons in the 1960s and 70s.