For whatever reason, football people always want to leave kickers out of the discussion whenever players are ranked against one another. There are no punters, for example, in the NFL's Hall of Fame. I decided that my list here needed to have a kicker, and even though my heart was screaming John Hopkins (1987-1990), my head said it had to be 2010 All-Pac-10 selection Nate Whitaker. But when I looked at the numbers, Hopkins had huge advantages in almost every category.
By virtue of being the number one place kicker for four years from 1987-1990, Hopkins has attempted and made more field goals (59 for 88) than any kicker in school history, and also made a school record seventy-seven consecutive extra points.
Those numbers may be impressive, but they all pale in comparison to what happened on November 17, 1990, in Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. Hopkins put the finishing touches on what could be the most improbable victory in the long history of Stanford football, a 27-25 win over the California Golden Bears. The photo above shows Hopkins warming up for the clinching kick, famously booting footballs into the stands because the kicking net had already been packed away. Moments later he would split the uprights with his fifth field goal of the day, another school record. All of that gives him a much-deserved spot on Go Mighty Card's Silver Squad*.
[Photo Credit: David Madison]
*My first thought was to try to come up with a list of the best Stanford football players of all-time, but I quickly realized that I'm not qualified. I've only been watching Stanford football since the fall of 1987, so I can't really comment intelligently on players who suited up before then. Sure, I know that Jim Plunkett belongs, but I know nothing about Randy Vataha. Sports Illustrated once named Ernie Nevers the greatest college football player of all-time, and that's certainly good enough for me, but how can I possibly rank him against players of a more modern era? So I decided to create a list of the best Stanford players that I've actually seen in my time as a fan, and since that's roughly twenty-five years, I'm calling it the Silver Squad. (Catchy, isn't it?) Anyway, I'd love to hear your own memories of these players, and I won't be offended if you argue about who should or should not have been included on this list. Enjoy.