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Greatest Kansas Football Players of All-Time Bracket: Bill Whittemore vs Nolan Cromwell

(11) Whittemore vs (3) Cromwell

Bill Whittemore passes the ball Photo by Dave Kaup/Getty Images

In an upset for the ages, Bill Whittemore moved passed semi-legendary Frank Seurer in the first round by a 6-3 count. Meanwhile, Nolan Cromwell shut out Jordan Webb 8-0.

(11) Bill Whittemore

Whittemore came to KU as a JUCO transfer from Ft. Scott (Kan) Community college. He played for the Jayhawks under Mark Mangino from 2002-03. While he only played in 19 games for the Jayhawks, he made quite an impression, particularly his senior year when he led KU to the Tangerine Bowl in Mangino’s second year. (He missed the final 3 games of 2002 with a knee injury.)

In 2003, Whittemore led a Jayhawk offense that scored 35 or more points for five games in a row - the first time in KU history that had ever happened at Kansas. Oh, and after those 19 games played, Whittemore’s career ranks at KU are impressive: 7th in passing yards, 4th in passing TDs. He was also quite the scrambler, rushing for 1099 yards and 21 TDs.

At last check, he was coaching high school football somewhere in Tennessee. Similar to Mark Williams, it’s fun to wonder what he could have been with four years at KU instead of just two.

(3) Nolan Cromwell

One of the best pure athletes ever to grace Mt. Oread, Cromwell played at Kansas from 1973-76

His freshman year he was the starting safety on coach Don Fambrough’s 1973 Liberty Bowl team. He started at safety again in 1974, but made the switch to quarterback in 1975, which turned out to be his most productive year at Kansas. KU ran a wishbone offense, so Cromwell didn’t throw often (98 passes attempted in his KU career), but boy did he run. After stunning Oklahoma in the regular season, he led Kansas to the Sun Bowl in 1975, earning him a first team All-Big 8 nod and an honorable mention All-American. His 1976 season was cut short by a knee injury after just five games; the Jayhawks went 2-4 without Cromwell.

He was also a two-time All-American in track and field, setting school records in numerous events.

He was drafted 31st overall by the St. Louis Rams in the 1977 NFL Draft. He spent 10 years as a defensive back in the NFL, all with the Rams, at one point being named to four consecutive Pro Bowls (1980-83).

He is enshrined in KU’s Ring of Honor.

And in case you missed it in the first round, if you’re in the mood for some additional Cromwell reading material, check out this piece from SI’s Vault from 1981.


Who was the greater Jayhawk? Register your vote in the comments below. Other matchups can be found here.