When looking at the Oregon record book, one will find wide receivers like Sammie Parker, Tony Hartley, Demetrius Williams, Damon Griffin, Cristin McLemore and Jeff Maehl mentioned as players that had bigger individual games and seasons than former Duck Keenan Howry.
Where one will find Howry towards the top is on the all-time Oregon list of career receptions and career receiving yardage. Howry was never the biggest or fastest receiver on the Ducks roster but he was certainly the most reliable. If there were a list for important plays in the clutch, Howry would almost certainly be at the top.
Whether it was his game-winning touchdown in the corner of the end zone of the 1999 Sun Bowl against Minnesota to the 69-yard, fourth-quarter punt return against Oregon State in 2001, Howry had a knack for coming up big when the Ducks needed it most.
We recently caught up with the Duck legend while visiting Los Alamitos High School to catch up with Oregon commit Alex Redmond.
DuckNation: Now that your playing days are over, what have you been up to?
Howry: I finished my degree in Eugene in 2011 and now I am just coaching here at my alma mater and trying to get into coaching on the college level.
DuckNation: Talk about what being an Oregon Duck has meant to you.
Howry: It means everything to me. Oregon is like family to me. I still keep in touch with a lot of the coaches and my teammates while following the program. The Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl teams (during the 1994 and 1995 seasons) kind of set things off but I really feel like my era was the true starting point for Duck football to become what it is today.
When I got there we didn't have all the stuff they have now. We accomplished so much during my career but it all came through hard work and a blue-collar mentality. We didn't have the four- and five-star recruits. A lot of us were overlooked and we had a chip on our shoulders. I think it showed on the field and it taught us a lot about how to approach life in general.
Things aren't handed to you in life. You have to go out and make things happen. By doing so much with so little, it gave our team a bond that meant more than just success on the field. I wouldn't trade my time at Oregon for anything.
DuckNation: How would you compare Oregon in your days to the Oregon of today?
Howry: Polar opposites, really. But with as many differences as there are, there is still a lot of similarities with the program. A lot of things have changed obviously, but the camaraderie among players, coaches and alums is still amazing. A lot of old players go back when they can and offer support any way they can.
The staff and the program still do a great job of developing and maximizing talent like they have always done. Now they get to work with a lot more of it. Everything they have done has turned Oregon into an elite program. It's crazy to hear the Ducks mentioned by these kids on TV. You got kids from the South talking about Oregon along with schools like Alabama, Florida and Miami.
When I got there we had little metal lockers and a real basic locker room to prepare for battle in. Then we would roll out into a stadium with 40,000 people in it. The things they have now as far as facilities and the stadium upgrades are unbelievable. The shiny stuff helps reel the kids in but they still have to work from the day the step foot on campus.
There is a lot more overall talent up there now too. We had a lot of talented guys and some real elite, NFL guys, but we didn't have the depth. Now we have all these kids from all over the country that are turning down Texas, USC, Florida State and whoever else. In my day, we had to beat schools like Nevada, Arizona and Wazzu for kids. Now it's the only premier destination for kids on the West Coast outside of USC.
What I like is that the old-school blue collar mentality is still there. People on the outside don't see it. They just see the flashy stuff but with that coaching staff, those fans and the town of Eugene, the hard work never stops inside the facilities. You can be rated anything coming into college but if you don't put in the work you won't be successful.
The way the program is now is a hybrid of the old and the new. I think it's perfect and I can't wait to see where it takes us next.
DuckNation: You're coaching at Los Al now, but where did your career leave you after you left Oregon as the (at the time) all-time leading receiver?
Howry: I was drafted by Minnesota in the seventh round in 2003 and spent three years with the Vikings before signing with the Seahawks for a year. After that I spent some time in the CFL until I decided to hang 'em up.
DuckNation: Talk about what it's like to see one of the current players (Redmond) develop into a star, earning an offer from, then committing to Oregon.
Howry: It's great to see. Alex is a big, strong kid and has a certain combination of athleticism and aggressiveness that you don't see in a lot of linemen. He loves the game and there isn't one aspect of the game he doesn't dominate at this level. He'll be in for a shock when he gets to Eugene but he has the skills and the attitude to become the next great Duck to come out of Los Al.
Tony Hartley came out of here before me and went to Oregon and broke all the receiving records up there. I came out next and I achieved everything that I did, including breaking some of Tony's records. Then Ian (Reynoso) went up there and started the good part of three years on the offensive line. A.K. (Keyes) was off to a good start but then he got hurt and had to quit football for good.
There have been a few of us that became Ducks and we were all pretty successful. I think the connection between Los Al and Oregon has served everyone well and I hope more kids out of here wind up at Oregon.
Alex just needs to keep working hard and take the right advice. He'll be good. He just needs to realize the opportunity he has in front of him and make the most of it each day. I think he'll carry on the tradition well.