Tucker: Wyoming’s Marcus Harris deserves 2020 Hall of Fame nod
CHEYENNE – Dear College Hall of Fame voters,
Nine of the 76 players who find their name on the ballot this year are wide receivers. All had great careers, each raking up more than 1,900 yards and a 15.3 yards per catch average.
Every one of these speedsters was drafted. Three went in the first round.
But when you compare college resumes, only one rises above the rest: That man is Wyoming’s Marcus Harris.
Harris said if this were indeed a recognition of accomplishments in college, not the NFL, he should’ve heard his name called the first time he was eligible back in 2017.
Three receivers have been inducted since Harris received that call. Torry Holt and Raghib Ismail were selected in the Class of 2019. Calvin Johnson was the lone wide out representative in 2018.
All great players? Yes.
Stats comparable to Harris? Nope.
Holt came closest, hauling in 191 passes for 3,379 yards at North Carolina State. He also caught 31 touchdown passes. Ismail didn’t get in because of his pass-catching ability, he ran to the Hall with 1,271 kick-return yards and five touchdowns. Johnson racked up 2,927 yards receiving at Georgia Tech to go along with 28 touchdowns.
What’s the common denominator with all these guys? They played at major universities and were high draft picks, each having plenty of success in the NFL.
Are you starting to see Harris’ gripe?
He didn’t have success in the NFL. After being taken by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the 1997 Draft, Harris never made it out of training camp. Harris has told me on numerous occasions that he never got a fair shake in the Motor City. The team had plenty of weapons outside, including Herman Moore and Johnnie Morton. Harris said wide receivers’ coach, Jerry Sullivan, never even got to know his name, let alone head coach, Bobby Ross.
Let’s fast-forward to 2019.
Harris is up against names like Marvin Harrison (Syracuse), Ed McCaffrey (Stanford) and Michael Westbrook (Colorado). You remember them? They all had solid NFL careers and Westbrook caught the 67-yard Hail Mary pass in Ann Arbor forever dubbed, the “Miracle at Michigan.”
Harrison and McCaffrey combined for 34 touchdown receptions in college.
Harris had 38.
Only Mike Hass of Oregon State can say he was truly the best wide receiver in college football. In 2005, he won the Fred Biletnikoff Trophy, the Heisman for wideouts.
Harris claimed that same award in 1996.
Of the other name son this season’s list – Tim Dwight (Iowa), Ernie Jennings (Air Force), Larry Seivers (Tennessee) and Elmo Wright (Houston) – none is within 1,171 yards of Harris’ 4,518 career yards. And just for the record, Harris finished his freshman year with one catch for 14 yards.
Of the players on this list, Harris is No. 1 in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Only Wright has more yards per catch with 21.9 compared to Harris’ 17.4.
And speaking of records, Harris finished his career with the NCAA record for all-time receiving yards. He’s still No. 5 today.
Instead of embracing those numbers, some will find anyway to discredit them.
Yes, Harris played in Joe Tiller’s run-and-gun offense. Yes, Harris didn’t play the weekly competition of guys from bigger schools. Yes, he was the focal point of the Cowboys’ offense.
Which guy on this list wasn’t?
Let’s lay this out in black and white.
Harris had a better single career than anyone on this list. His last three years in college were better than any of those three selections the past two seasons. He was an All-American, WAC Offensive Player of the Year and Biletnikoff winner in 1996.
That alone should get your vote.
Don’t get blinded by the golden helmets of Notre Dame, the cheers of 100,000 from The Swamp, or the national polls.
The announcement of the 2020 Class will be made in January 2020 in the days leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans.
Harris deserves this honor.
Contact Cody at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CodyTucker_7220