Let’s get this Elite 8 round kicked off in style with two of the best quarterbacks to ever grace the field in Memorial Stadium.
(1) Todd Reesing
Reesing owns basically every passing record at Kansas, both in a career and in most cases in a single season: attempts, completions, yards, TDs, even completion percentage (which is incredible considering how many more passes Reesing attempted in his career than any other player in Kansas history, 527 more than Frank Seurer). In fact, only one player in KU history has played in more games at the QB position than Reesing’s 41 (Frank Seurer again, with 44).
Reesing may be one of the most popular players in recent history at KU after leading the Jayhawks to a 12-1 season and a victory in the 2008 Orange Bowl. However, unlike many of his competitors in this bracket, Reesing never received any first team All-Conference or first team All-American nominations. The Jayhawks went 25-13 from 2007 through 2009 with Reesing behind center.
(2) John Hadl
Heavily recruited by juggernaut Oklahoma and legendary coach Bud Wilkinson, Lawrence native John Hadl elected to stay close to home and suited up for the Jayhawks from 1959-61.
Hadl had very pedestrian passing numbers in his 30 game career at KU, completing 99 of 204 passes for 1345 yards, including 12 TDs against 15 INTs. But that’s not what qualified him for the 2-seed. Not only did he split time between QB and HB, he was an excellent defensive back, a quality return specialist, and one of the nation’s top punters.
He was first team All-Big 8 halfback in 1959 and first team All-Big 8 quarterback in 1960 and ‘61. He led the nation in punting in 1959, still holds the school record for longest punt (94 yards), and has the third-longest interception return by a defender in school history (98 yards). The Jayhawks went 14-5-2 with Hadl under center, ranking in the Top 20 both years. He culminated his Kansas career by leading the Jayhawks to a 33-7 Bluebonnet Bowl win over Rice in 1961. (Take that, Rice!)
Hadl followed all that by being drafted 10th overall by the Detroit Lions in the 1962 NFL Draft. A trade to San Diego sparked a 16-year NFL career where he amassed 33,513 passing yards, which was good for third in the record books at the time of his retirement; it’s still good for 28th all-time. He played with the Chargers, Rams, Packers, and Oilers, was named the NFL man of the year in 1971, and Most Valuable Player in 1973.
Hadl was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. His #21 jersey is one of three retired by Kansas football, and his name graces the Ring of Honor in Memorial Stadium. He was also the first Jayhawk to be named first team All-American twice, in 1960 and ‘61.
Who was the greater Jayhawk? Register your vote in the poll below. Feel free to share your vote and discuss in the comments. Other matchups can be found here.