The Best Oregon Ducks of All Time

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A list of the best Oregon Ducks of all time. Beginning in 1894, the University of Oregon began its illustrious football program. Though Oregon fans didn't always have a lot to cheer for through much of the 20th century, the 2000s ushered in a new era, and the Ducks have become a dominant force in the Pac-12 and nationwide. Oregon has not yet won a national title, but they have taken home 11 conference titles and have 12 post-season bowl game wins. Oregon has produced many truly talented quarterbacks, from NFL legend Dan Fouts, to Joey Harrington, Dennis Dixon, and Akili Smith. Many talented Oregon stars at other positions have gone on to illustrious NFL careers as well, with six former Ducks being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, including Gary Zimmerman, Dave Wilcox, Norm Van Brocklin, Dan Fouts, and Mel Renfro. Other famous players who are considered some of the greatest Ducks ever are the ruthless defender Haloti Ngata and running back Jonathan Stewart.

Former head coach Mike Bellotti helped bring Oregon Duck football to the national stage, and Chip Kelly, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, grew it into the dominant force it is today. The school is regularly ranked in the top ten, and few opponents enjoy coming into Autzen Stadium and facing the Oregon fans. While many people focus on the Ducks's crazy uniforms, it's the great players who are really remembered. Who can forget powerhouse LaMichael James, who ended his Oregon career as the most decorated Duck ever, holding almost every singe Oregon rushing and scoring record including most points scored in a season & career (144, 348), most touchdowns in a season & career (24, 58), most rushing attempts in a season (294), season and career rushing yards (1,805, 5,082), and most 200-yard rushing games, also for both season (4) and career (7). Then there's Oregon's first and (so far) only Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Marcus Mariota, who took home college football's top honor in 2014.

This is the list of the best Oregon Ducks of all time. Is your favorite Duck missing from the list? Feel free to add him. Vote or rerank this list according to who you think should be considered the greatest Ducks football players ever. 
Most divisive: Brandon Bair
Ranked by
  • Marcus Mariota
    1,704 votes
    • Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
    • Age: 29
    • Teams: Atlanta Falcons

    As the face of Oregon football during his tenure, Marcus Mariota brought a level of electrifying athleticism and keen decision-making to the quarterback position that redefined the Ducks' offensive identity. A true dual-threat, Mariota was known for his unparalleled speed, ability to extend plays, and deadly accuracy in the pocket, all while demonstrating top-notch leadership both on and off the field. His impact on the sport is still felt today, as he serves as the prototype for the modern-day quarterback with his unique blend of precision passing and unmatched mobility.

  • Justin Herbert

    Justin Herbert

    387 votes

    Justin Herbert's arm talent and football IQ elevated him to the status of one of the best Oregon quarterbacks of all time. With prototypical size and a cannon for an arm, Herbert could make every throw in the book while showing off his underrated athleticism and poise under pressure. Herbert's command of the Ducks' high-octane offense made him a force to be reckoned with on Saturdays, and his transition to the NFL speaks volumes about the effectiveness of his skill set at the highest level.

  • LaMichael James
    Running back
    1,093 votes
    • Birthplace: New Boston, Texas
    • Age: 33
    • Teams: San Francisco 49ers

    LaMichael James was the embodiment of a home-run hitting playmaker during his time at Oregon, possessing a rare combination of explosive speed, elusiveness, and vision as a running back. Whether he was slicing through defenses or breaking off a long touchdown run, James provided countless highlight-reel moments for the Ducks faithful. His ability to change the momentum in an instant made him a nightmare for opposing teams and is the reason he is considered among the greatest running backs in Oregon history.

  • Haloti Ngata
    Defensive end
    1,011 votes
    • Birthplace: Los Angeles, Inglewood, California
    • Age: 39
    • Teams: Baltimore Ravens, Oregon Ducks football

    A behemoth in the trenches, Haloti Ngata dominated the line of scrimmage during his time as a defensive tackle for the Ducks. With a rare combination of size, strength, and agility, Ngata was virtually unblockable, consistently disrupting opposing offenses and making life miserable for quarterbacks. A key cog in Oregon's defensive machine, Ngata's sheer physicality and relentless motor continue to leave a lasting impression on those who had the pleasure of witnessing him in action.

  • Dan Fouts
    851 votes
    • Birthplace: California
    • Age: 72
    • Teams: San Diego Chargers

    As the quintessential pocket passer, Dan Fouts set the standard for what a traditional quarterback should look like during his days at Oregon. Fouts' ability to survey the field, make quick decisions, and deliver pinpoint passes with authority cemented his status as one of the greatest passers in program history. His pure passing prowess and steady leadership in the huddle helped pave the way for future generations of signal-callers at Oregon and beyond.

  • Deforest Buckner

    Deforest Buckner

    714 votes

    Towering over the competition at 6'7", Deforest Buckner was a disruptive force along Oregon's defensive line, using his incredible length and power to wreak havoc in opposing backfields. Buckner's uncanny ability to shed blocks and penetrate the offensive line allowed him to consistently make plays behind the line of scrimmage, causing chaos for quarterbacks and running backs alike. His relentless pursuit and unyielding commitment to the game led to his well-deserved reputation as one of the best defensive linemen in Oregon history.