How will Kentucky, Syracuse and Oregon replace the men who went
1-2-3 in the draft?
It's not as if Dusty Bonner didn't hold his own against fellow
quarterback Tim Couch at Kentucky last season. Bonner won his
share of their rock-paper-scissors showdowns every Thursday
night. (The loser carried the other's gear for that Saturday's
game.) Then there were Couch's efforts to beat Bonner at John
Madden NFL '98 on Bonner's Nintendo 64. "For a while, Tim
couldn't score a touchdown, and that drove him crazy," Bonner
says. "He'd get to the fourth quarter, throw down his controller
and walk out the door."
Sure, if you want to be technical about it, Couch became an
All-America and the first player picked in the 1999 NFL draft,
while Bonner stood on the sideline and was eventually
redshirted. This season Bonner and quarterbacks at Syracuse and
Oregon join Don Bunce, Norris Weese and Clyde LeBaron in the
exclusive No Way to Measure Up Club. Bunce, Weese and LeBaron
replaced Jim Plunkett at Stanford, Archie Manning at Ole Miss
and Dan Pastorini at Santa Clara, respectively, after those
quarterbacks went 1-2-3 in the 1971 draft. Signal-callers didn't
go 1-2-3 again until last spring, when the Cleveland Browns
selected Couch, the Philadelphia Eagles took the Orangemen's
Donovan McNabb and the Cincinnati Bengals picked the Ducks'
Bonner, who sprouted in the rich football soil of Valdosta, Ga.,
knows better than to compare himself to Couch. Bonner is listed
at 6'2", 208 pounds, which is an inch or so generous. The taller
Couch used to tease Bonner about his stocky build by suggesting
he wear lineman's pants. Bonner's strengths are his intelligence
and his drive--and his familiarity with the Wildcats' offense.
Coach Hal Mumme came to Kentucky from Valdosta State, and Bonner
directed a Valdosta High passing game lifted right out of
Mumme's playbook. After highly touted Drew Brees turned down the
Wildcats to sign with Purdue in February 1997, Mumme went with
the Georgia prospect who had attended four of his camps at
Valdosta State, beginning when Bonner was in eighth grade.
Bonner played sparingly at Kentucky as a freshman, then sat out
last season. "I could have gotten by without doing a whole lot,"
Bonner says of his redshirt year. "Instead, I looked at it like,
This is a year I can focus on the small things." His work paid
off. Mumme named Bonner the starter halfway through '99 spring
If only Syracuse sophomore Madei Williams had impressed his
coach Paul Pasqualoni as much. During the spring, Pasqualoni
asked junior tailback Dee Brown to run the Orangemen's option
game. Brown, who was a high school quarterback in Lake Brantley,
Fla., had switched to tailback at Syracuse so that he wouldn't
get stuck behind McNabb. Now he's likely to be in a rotation
with Williams and freshman Troy Nunes.
"I made up my mind that quarterback was no more a part of me,"
Brown says. "Now I have to play both positions in order for the
offense to run. I see myself getting 10 to 12 snaps a game [at
No one at Oregon expects Smith's successor, either junior A.J.
Feeley or sophomore Joey Harrington, to be named until after the
first couple of games. However, the player who wins the job can,
along with Bonner and the platooning Orangemen, take inspiration
from two founding members of the No Way to Measure Up Club.
Bunce was the last quarterback to take Stanford to the Rose
Bowl, and Weese played four seasons in the NFL.
Manning Won't Redshirt
OLE MISS NEEDS YOU, SON
Mississippi coach David Cutcliffe says that in a perfect world
he would redshirt freshman Eli Manning. But since the Rebels are
shorthanded at quarterback behind junior starter Romaro Miller,
Cutcliffe expects to use Manning this fall.
Cutcliffe, who was Peyton Manning's quarterbacks coach at
Tennessee, says Eli is further along physically than his older
brother was when he entered college. "But Peyton is the fastest
thinker I've ever been around," Cutcliffe says. "He had a
computer for a mind." Translation: Miller's starting job is safe.
The Aggies' Beefy Backs
A QUARTER TON OF FUN
Texas A&M was expected to learn this week that D'Andre Hardeman
passed his summer school courses and regained his academic
eligibility. If so, the Aggies may line up a quarter-ton
backfield in goal line situations. The 5'10", 232-pound
Hardeman, who has rushed for 1,595 yards and 30 touchdowns in
three seasons at A&M, would line up behind 6-foot, 260-pound
fullback Ja'Mar Toombs. "I feel sorry for whoever is playing
linebacker," says Aggies quarterback Randy McCown.
Hardeman saw action in two games last season before being ruled
ineligible. He can play either fullback or tailback and has the
longest run in school history: 95 yards, which came against
Baylor in 1996. If nothing else, Hardeman and Toombs would
soften the defense for 5'8", 190-pound senior speedster Dante
HURRICANES GROWING ON ACC
The conventional wisdom is that only Georgia Tech and Florida
State want to bring Miami into the nine-team Atlantic Coast
Conference. However, a league official says that Miami has the
support of two other conference schools, too. That's short of
the seven needed for entry, but it nevertheless indicates a
significant amount of interest leading into an ACC presidents'
meeting early next month. Miami, currently in the Big East,
would consider an invitation to join the ACC because of the
geographic location of the league's members, its lucrative
football television deal and the fact that it is considered a
more prestigious conference in football, basketball and
baseball.... Among the facility improvements new Baylor coach
Kevin Steele sought and received is a 90-foot coaching tower at
the practice field. "It's the second-tallest building in Waco,"
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COLOR PHOTO: JOHN F. GRIESHOP Bonner lacks his predecessor's arm but has years of experience playing in a Mumme-style offense.