Stanford Football All-70s Team WRS - Split Ends
Special Request: Please discuss our All-Decade selections all you like - we encourage it! Just do us a favor and refrain from engaging in "pre-debate" of our remaining "All-Decade" choices before we publish each position in sequence. We considered releasing the entire "All-70s" team in one fell swoop, but decided it would be more fun and perhaps a bit less overwhelming to roll it out it by individual position. Then we (read: I ) fell behind. At one point during fall ball in 2010, a well-intentioned Bootie started polling people on this very subject, but we were already waist-deep into the monster project and the preemptive pre-debate sort of "killed the momentum" of the project.
Sometimes an already ambitious project can blow up into something bigger than originally planned. Back in 2010 we started compiling a list of candidates for a series of "Stanford Football All-Decade Teams", starting with the 1970s, and since that time have had conversations and correspondence with countless former players in order to get critical feedback, anecdotes and suggestions from multiple sources. As we approach the 2012 season, we dug into our vast stories-in-progress file and found that we had made it through only four positions for our "Stanford Football All-70s Team": QBs, RBs, FBs, and TEs.
Time for the second part of our next offensive position: Wide Receiver. We had chosen to separate the "flankers" and the "split ends", although some of the players saw action at both positions. We announced the "Flankers" and now we focus on the "Split Ends". In making the choices for The Bootleg's "Stanford Football All-Decade Teams", we have tried to take into consideration a player's individual contribution in a specific decade, which for this particular purpose we have defined as years '0 through ‘9 (e.g. 1970 through 1979). The careers of certain outstanding players (Randy Vataha and Kenny Margerum come to mind as prime examples) straddle more than one decade and unfortunately that may have worked against them in a few instances.
The selection criteria we use are by necessity subjective, but they include a variety of factors such as minutes-played, games started, letters-won, statistical production, records set, prime-time performances, national and all-conference honors, contributions to team success, demonstrated leadership skills, respect commanded from fellow teammates and various other factors. Avoidance of injury was clearly a factor. As Coach John Ralston used to say "You can't make the club, sittin' in the tub!". That may not always be fair, but it is what it is. There are a lot of "should-have-been" stories, some of them disappointing, some sad, some truly tragic. Some players inevitably benefit from a bit of grade inflation from the success of their teams and teammates, and we feel that some players who played on less-successful squads nevertheless deserve credit and consideration. We know there are many talented student-athletes who have played their hearts out for Stanford University. We apologize in advance if we offend any deserving former player or former player's family members, teammates, friends, or clandestine concubines. This series is designed to stimulate discussion, encourage debate, instigate fisticuffs, and surface forgotten anecdotes for the enjoyment of our esteemed Bootleg readers.
The year shown in parentheses are to remind our readers of a player's "primary" years as a player, not necessarily the exact years they were technically on the Varsity, while redshirting or waiting for playing time.
"The Stanford Football All-70s Team" - Wide Receiver [Split Ends]
First Team: Ken Margerum
Second Team: Eric Cross, Bill Singler
Honorable Mention: Bill Kellar
Ken Margerum. A no-brainer here and no-one is going to join him on our first team!. Fountain Valley's phenomenal Ken Margerum was a consensus First-Team All-American in 1979 (and again in 1980, but we won't consider that for current purposes). As "un-coverable" and improvisational as any receiver ever to wear the Cardinal & White, Kenny would set a conference career TD reception mark (32) that would stand for nearly three decades (it was finally broken by USC's Dwayne Jarrett in 2006 who had 41). Flanker, split end, it didn't matter where #28 lined up. You couldn't stay with him. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Margerum was selected by the Chicago Bears in the third round of the 1981 NFL draft and was a member of the Super Bowl-winning team of 1985, becoming close friends with Bears QB and fellow free spirit Jim McMahon. Think those two guys might have some good stories?
Stanford's 1977 consensus All-American quarterback Guy Benjamin says it didn't take long to recognize Kenny's future star status:
"I knew Margerum would be great when in the Big Game his freshman year (1977), I threw one high over the middle to get it over the linebacker and he reached out, caught the ball and got knocked out by the free safety. Then in the fourth quarter, I look up and he's back in the huddle, looking for more! I said, 'What are YOU doing here?' - That's when I knew he was going to be a pretty good football player!"
The Bootleg went back and watched that play…impressive.
After helping Steve Dils and Turk Schonert win back-to-back NCAA passing titles, Margerum quickly became John Elway's go-to receiver in 1980, but that takes us into the decade of the 80s!
For all of his well-publicized windsurfing and free-spirited lifestyle, Kenny was an exceptionally hard worker and dedicated dual-sport athlete who ran high hurdles in track and ran them very well.
Oh, and did we mention that #28 was also a second-team Academic All-American in 1980?
Second Team (Tie):
Hmmmm. Eric Cross. Was he a split end? Was he a flanker? Was he an all-around return specialist? Yes. Yes, and Yes. Whatever one wanted to do with Eric Cross, he would give it to you. Not the fastest guy compared to some of the track stars of the day, but he had great hands and possessed remarkable playmaking ability. Cross was no surprise to the varsity football team. He had been the top performer on Stanford's 1969 freshman team and was named "outstanding sophomore" on the 1970 team. A "faster Randy Vataha" who would definitely have his number called any time our "All-70s" team would need to run a reverse or fake a punt.
More of an all-purpose threat during his first few years, he was stuck behind veterans Randy Vataha and Miles Moore, Cross became a prime-time receiver in 1972 and he would lead the Pac-8 in receiving in with 53 receptions for 730 yards and nine touchdowns. He was "only" named Honorable Mention All-Conference that year, which was probably fair. He was able to sneak past Cal's Steve Rivera with a monster, school-record-setting 14-catch, 172-yard receiving game in the final contest against Hawaii and he gets a little extra credit for displacing a Golden Bear hero with a nice lean at the season's finish line!
As a sophomore, Cross ran a punt back for a 61-yard TD against fourth-ranked Arkansas in a nationally-televised opener. He immediately became the most feared return specialist in the conference, but was unfortunately held back in 1970 by a serious hamstring injury.
Eric is remembered perhaps most fondly for his contributions in the Indians' two Rose Bowl victories, including a tone-setting 41-yard run on The Opening play against Ohio State (when he did his best to hide his jersey number between two linemen so the Buckeyes wouldn't notice he had substituted in for Vataha) and for his school-record 14-catch day at Hawaii in his final game in a Stanford uniform in ‘72. He was the recipient of the Verne Purcell Memorial Trophy as the "Senior Football Player Whose Courage on the Field and Devotion to the Game are an Inspiration to us all".
One more thing we have to mention. Cross was also part of a legendary play, certainly one of the "weirdest" incidents in Stanford Football history. Back in 1970, the Indians were up in Spokane, playing Washington State at Joe Albi Stadium, at the time a severely talent-impaired squad that would go winless in the Pacific 8 Conference during the 1969 and 1970 seasons. As Cross was on his way to a 25-yard touchdown score on a deep reverse during the 63-16 shellacking, an inebriated young spectator who obviously had been hitting the keg hard suddenly ventured onto the playing field and attempted to impede Eric's progress at about the 20-yard-line. Rather than run around him, Cross decided to run over him, knocking the stuffing out of the poor fool, tearing his shirt and leaving cleat-marks on the kid's face . In the locker room after the game, radio announcer Bob Murphy asked Cross "Couldn't you have missed him?" And Eric answered, "Yeah, I could have, but the guy wanted a thrill and I didn't want to disappoint him!" It was said the steamrolled student actually sent Cross a laundry bill for a new short months later. Must have been drinking again!
Second Team (Tie):
We couldn't convince ourselves to leave off William D. "Billy" Singler. At barely 5-10 and maybe 165-pounds, #21 replaced Cross as the team's top receiver after sitting out his 1972 sophomore season as a redshirt. Like Cross, Singler was fast, was tough to cover, and was known for having great hands. His specialty as a route-runner was the "out" pattern, that he could break off with laser precision. He would go on to coach college football at more than 10 different programs during the 1980s and 1990s, including a two-year stint as head coach at the University of Pacific in 1990-91 before the Tigers program was discontinued. He was brought back to Stanford by Bill Walsh from 1992-94, serving as special teams coordinator and running backs coach.
Developing into a consistently reliable threat under the tutelage of assistant Pete Kettela, Singler was a First-Team All-Pacific 8 conference selection in 1973 as a redshirt junior.
Connecting early and often with senior All-American quarterback Mike Boryla, Singler snagged a team-leading 31 catches for 501 yards and a sparkling 16.2-yard average in '73, finishing third in the Pacific 8 Conference in a tie with Oregon tight end and future 49er favorite Russ Francis. 501 yards was a lot considering that Boryla led the entire league in passing yardage with just 1,629 yards! How times change. Heck, Houston's gunslingin' David Klingler once had 716 yards in a single game against ASU (1990).
Singler was never able to post a better season than he did in 1973, as the remarkable Tony Hill arrived on the scene and became a favorite target of ever-alternating quarterbacks Mike Cordova and Guy Benjamin. As a senior, Billy would finish fourth on the squad in 1974 and managed to rank second in 1975.
After recovering from an unfortunate knee injury in the spring game of his sophomore year in 1975, when he was the outstanding player in spring practice, split end Bill Kellar, a record-setting high school receiver in his home state of Oregon, worked his way back into the starting line-up. Somewhat overshadowed by flashier superstar teammates Hill and Lofton, Kellar was nevertheless a highly reliable option for quarterbacks Mike Cordova and Guy Benjamin. He enjoyed a mighty fine season in 1976 with 34 catches and 447 yards and then started 11 of 12 games during his senior season, including the 1977 Sun Bowl, corralling a Pac-8 conference fifth-best 46 balls for 653 yards! He contributed three catches for 51 yards in that memorable Sun Bowl win over the over-boasting Bayou Bengals. Utilized more as a precise route-running chains-mover, his only receiving score in a Stanford uniform came in a rout of Army in 1975.
Leveraging his Stanford education, Kellar would score early and often in the business world. Bill currently heads up Nike's Football sports marketing department. Very nice. He was even kind enough to donate a boatload of Nike youth footballs when we produced the one-of-a-kind "Stanford Football BootCamp FanFest" back in 2007.
Richard W. "Jack" Lasater would merit more consideration here had he played more than just his senior season during the decade of the 1970s – same goes for Demea Washington (who by the way was in attendance at the big win over the UofA). Lasater (#43) tallied 19 catches for 292 and three TDs in his final year, adding significantly to Heisman Trophy-winner Jim Plunkett's arsenal of downfield weapons. He caught a 70-yard bomb from the big fella to kick off the Indians' 48-20 romp over Oregon State that year. Even served as a back-up punter during his career.
The late Vince "Vinnie" Mulroy was without question one of the finest student-athletes in Stanford history (Here's chance for quick shout-out to our two-time first-team Academic All-American pal John Bergren [1981-82] while we are at it!) and a close friend to many of us. His obvious intellect as the winner of the J. Wallace Sterling Award combined with solid athleticism and an even better work ethic. Not that big at maybe 5-11 and maybe 180, but #40 had a huge brain and an even bigger heart. For a lot of reasons, we call attention to Vince's many contributions on and off the field.
His best season of football, production-wise was 1976 when he was the team's fourth-leading receiver with 18 receptions for 234 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown from Mike Cordova back at Army. Vinnie backed up Kellar in 1977, but then started eight games during the Cardinal's nearly phenomenal 1978 season including the amazing 25-22 comeback victory over Georgia in the Bluebonnet Bowl (the game that included "the greatest 6:24 in Stanford Football history"). Mulroy managed just nine catches for 165 yards in 1978 – pretty hard to get your share of the pigskin pie in that prolific "Walsh I" offense when you had playmakers like Darrin Nelson, Phil Francis, Ken Margerum, Gordy Banks, and a trio of quality tight ends (Marty Smith, Mitch Pleis, and Pat Bowe).
Candidates Considered @
Split End: Cross, Kellar, Lasater, Margerum, Mulroy,