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Greatest Kansas Football Players of All-Time Bracket: John Hadl vs Mike Norseth

(2) John Hadl vs (7) Mike Norseth


Hadl cruised into the second round over Adam Barmann while Mike Norseth knocked out Kelly Donohoe in Round 1.

(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 (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.

He 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 and 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 twice named first team All-American, in 1960 and ‘61.

(7) Mike Norseth

Norseth was no slouch either. After receiving zero college offers due to leading a run-heavy offense in high school, he went to Snow Junior College in Utah because they had a prolific passing offense, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Norseth quarterbacked the Jayhawks from 1984-85. In 23 games at KU, to this day he ranks in the top six in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. He was basically Todd Reesing before there was Todd Reesing; when Norseth left campus, he owned the following records: most yards of total offense gained in a season (2,995), most completions in a season (227), most attempts in a season (408), most touchdown passes in a season (15), most yards total offense in a single game (509) and season (3,214) and most offensive plays in one season (543).

He was drafted 174th overall in the 1986 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He bounced around for a few years, only appearing in one game in 1988 for the Bengals, where he recorded one statistic - a five yard rush.


Who was the greater Jayhawk? Log your vote in the comments. Check out the other matchups here.