By Do-Hyoung Park
In an annual Bootleg tradition, we are proud to present the first five of the 10 winners of The Bootleg’s 2016 Honor Roll, spanning the 2015-16 academic year. The criteria are as follows:
“Each academic year, The Bootleg’s Honor Roll will recognize the top 10 Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees’ performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed “Spirit of Stanford.”
Bret Bonnani (M. Water Polo)
The Cardinal men haven’t had as much team success as their women’s water polo counterparts over the last four seasons (then again, no other program on The Farm has), but they certainly haven’t spent that time lacking in star power. Look no further than graduated senior Bret Bonnani, the first winner on our Honor Roll, who sieged the Cardinal record books with reckless abandon from the moment he stepped on campus and will leave behind one of the most storied legacies in program history.
Bonnani finished his Stanford career with 360 goals, making him not only the program’s all-time leader in goals scored, but also setting a new MPSF record as well. The Stanford record that he shattered had previously belonged to none other than program legend Tony Azevedo (332 goals), the Olympic team’s captain in Rio and the only five-time Olympian in the history of U.S. water polo. That’s some pretty solid company. Bonnani also made his first Olympic roster this season, but unfortunately, the United States didn’t advance out of the group stage after having reached at least the quarterfinals in each of the last four Olympics.
Since men’s water polo isn’t exactly one of Stanford’s more publicized sports, let’s look at some more numbers to put Bonnani’s historical career in context. His 97 goals as a sophomore in 2013 set a new Stanford record. He added 96 more as a junior and 94 as a senior (after leading the team with 73 in his freshman season, of course). No other athlete in program history had more than one 90-goal season; Bonnani had three.
Kevin Hogan (Football)
What more can be said about the warrior quarterback who guided Stanford through the most dominant stretch in program history?
The three Pac-12 Championships speak for themselves, and he leaves Stanford as the only quarterback in conference history to lead his team to three Rose Bowl appearances and the winningest quarterback in program history. Hogan was far from perfect, but his progression from scrappy redshirt freshman to calm, collected fifth-year senior while enduring the shadow of Andrew Luck and the passing of his father helped Stanford cement its status as a national powerhouse, and not just a flash in the pan riding the coattails of success brought about by Luck and Jim Harbaugh.
Hogan’s legacy truly began when he strode into a rainy Autzen Stadium as a redshirt freshman on Nov. 17, 2012 and stunned the nation by toppling the No. 2 Oregon Ducks in his first career road start to pave the way to the program’s first Rose Bowl appearance in 13 years. The book on Hogan closed 44 starts later, when he drove his knee into the Rose Bowl grass to cap off his career with a blowout win over Iowa. He finished his senior season fourth in the country in pass efficiency, completing 206 of his 304 passes for 2,867 yards, 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Christian McCaffrey (Football)
Bet you weren’t expecting to see the Heisman Trophy runner-up on our Honor Roll, right? We sure fooled you.
Despite being robbed of the Heisman Trophy, the numbers don’t lie when it comes to McCaffrey: He had the most statistically dominant season in the history of college football. He accounted for 3,864 all-purpose yards (that’s 2.2 miles of offense, folks) to shatter Barry Sanders’ “unbreakable” record, and he somehow only got better as the stage got bigger. The 461 all-purpose yards against USC in the Pac-12 Championship was a school record. He set a Rose Bowl record with 368 against an Iowa defense that finished the season 22nd in the country even after being embarrassed by the Cardinal in the Granddaddy of Them All.
It doesn’t stop there: In case you needed any reminder, 2,019 rushing yards is a single-season Stanford record, and 243 rush yards against UCLA set a Stanford single-game record for good measure. As a show of how much his teammates love him, they voted him, a sophomore, to carry the American flag onto the field before games. And David Shaw even let him throw the ball twice! (He’s 2-for-2 with two passing touchdowns, of course.)
And here’s the thing: Shaw says McCaffrey has gotten even better. Expect the Cardinal offense to flow through their do-everything, all-world star with a first-year quarterback under center in 2016, and if we’ve learned anything from 2015, it’s that you can never say never when it comes to the blur that wears No. 5.
Sean McGorty (XCTF)
As the fastest high school two-mile runner in North Carolina history, Sean McGorty never really got a chance to truly realize his absurd potential in his first two years on The Farm, as he ran tired in his 2013 season and suffered a back injury that sidelined him for most of his 2014 cross country campaign. But with a full year of health behind him, McGorty asserted himself as one of the premier talents in the Pac-12 this past season and led the Stanford cross country men to a third-place finish at NCAAs.
McGorty became a six-time All-American after placing seventh at NCAAs and also finished second to only Oregon superstar Edward Cheserek at Pac-12s during the cross country season. But his rise had only begun at that point; as the indoor track and field season progressed, McGorty started to make his mark on the record books.
It started at the Penn State National, when he ran a 3:55.8 split in the 1,600 anchor leg of the distance medley relay (DMR) to pace a 9:27.27 mark that took its place in the record books as the fifth-fastest DMR in collegiate history. He didn’t stop there; at the MPSF Championships, he ran the fastest mile in Stanford history (both indoors or outdoors) with a 3:53.95, which would have stood as the second-fastest mile in American collegiate history had it not been on an oversized track. After a second-place finish in the indoor 3,000 at NCAAs, it’s clear that McGorty has the talent to win a title -- but can he get through the seemingly unbeatable Cheserek to do it?
Joey McKenna (Wrestling)
Collegiate wrestling is heavily skewed towards the Midwest and the East Coast, but Joey McKenna, a three-time prep national champion and four-year high school letterwinner from New Jersey, made waves when he committed to Stanford as the crown jewel of the 2014 class, ultimately entering as a freshman this last season after pushing his enrollment at Stanford back a year.
To say that he lived up to the hype would be an understatement. As a freshman, McKenna earned a No. 2 national ranking at 141 pounds, finishing the season 27-3 overall and 11-1 in duals to become the first freshman in program history to earn All-America honors. Two of those losses came to Dean Heil, the top-ranked wrestler in the country in his weight class.
McKenna was the first Stanford wrestler ever to win a conference title at 141 and the fifth freshman in program history to win a conference title. He ultimately took third at NCAAs and was named Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year for his efforts. He will be one of four team captains for Stanford wrestling’s upcoming 2016-17 campaign.