O.K., trivia fans, after USC, which school will have the most alums in NFL uniforms this season? Ohio State? Alabama? Wrong and wrong again. Don't get down on yourself for not knowing the answer is Washington; under coach Don James the Huskies have adhered to a no-hype policy. Enroll at Washington, and you'll be a household name only in households where the names on the mailboxes say Landry, Flores or Ditka.
The next Husky of great note appears to be Chris Chandler, a 6'4", 205-pound senior whose downfield bombs and quarterback options led Washington to a school-record 33.8 points a game last season. James must have been profoundly impressed, because for the first time in his 13 years in Seattle he is openly endorsing one of his players, Chandler, for the Heisman Trophy.
"Chris is special," allows James. "He has the chance to be the best quarterback we've ever had." Chandler can read defenses with a quick mind and buy time in the pocket with quick feet. Chandler got the green light last year to throw deep whenever he saw man-to-man coverage, and he responded with 20 touchdowns, another school record, including four in one quarter against BYU.
"Chris can do any offense you want to do," says offensive coordinator Gary Pinkel. "He's got his own mind out there."
James has become more tolerant of freethinkers like Chandler and free spirits like Jay Roberts. Roberts is a 6'4", 240-pound defensive end with 4.6 speed who misspent three years as an outfielder in the Atlanta Braves farm system and is now a 25-year-old junior. Roberts is known to teammates as Father Time, Dad or, more fondly. Psycho.
"He's the oldest guy on the team, but he has the youngest mind," says Chandler. Roberts maintains that as many as 16 different people have possessed his body, including Jack Nicholson and Ernest Borgnine. Last spring he said his alter egos were down to eight or nine. "A few are on vacation for the off-season," he explains. " 'Jay,' they said, 'we'll see you in the fall.' Jack didn't want to hang around because of the Lakers. I think Ernest is making a movie."
James's worries are on the field; he has to replace the nine players from last year's 8-3-1 team who were selected in the NFL draft. He can be thankful that Chandler will once again be shielded by a massive offensive line—averaging 281 pounds—the biggest and best being right guard Mike Zandofsky. a 6'2½", 296-pound junior.
The holes will be huge for senior tailback Vince Weathersby, who led the Pac-10 with 5.5 yards per carry in '86. And when Chandler drops back, he'll be looking for Brian Slater, a 4.4 sprinter who averaged 23.9 yards per catch.
Defensively, Washington has some gaps to fill in its 3-4. Gone is Reggie Rogers, the All-America lineman, but the Huskies might have the brainiest linebacking corps in the country—seniors David Rill, Tom Erlandson and Bo Yates all made the Pac-10 All-Academic Team last season—and the secondary boasts first-team all-alliteration selection Le-Lo Lang at one corner.
The defense may have to do without Roberts, though, for the first three games of the season. He has some academic problems to clear up and probably won't be eligible until after classes start in late September. "Hey," he protests, "I thought I was on an athletic scholarship. I didn't see anything in there about academics."
Cute, Jay. If there's still a problem in September, maybe Jack or Ernest can lend a hand.
Chandler's 20 TD passes and only 13 interceptions in '86 have James talking Heisman.
Seven home games are the most since the 10-2 '81 season that ended with a Rose Bowl win
Last two placekickers were walk-ons who became All-Americas