EUGENE — Chad Cota, the former Ashland High football player who went on to a sterling career at the University of Oregon and played eight years in the National Football League, will join a star-studded cast of inductees into the Ducks' Hall of Fame this fall.
Cota played strong safety for Oregon from 1991-94 and was chosen the team's most valuable player his senior season after leading the Ducks to the 1995 Rose Bowl against Penn State.
Cota, who lives in Medford, will enter the Hall of Fame with four other individuals and three men's cross country teams that captured national championships.
The others are former quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Joey Harrington, innovative benefactor Phil Knight, men's basketball All-American Hugh Latham, softball All-American Kim Manning Strahm and harrier teams of 1971, '73 and '74.
They make up the school's 21st class of inductees and will be honored Sept. 22. The Hall was started in 1992 and has 172 members.
Cota was a big part of Oregon's first Rose Bowl team in 37 years,
A press release from the school said Cota "may not have been the biggest, the fastest or most heralded, but there was no mistaking (he) was the glue that fueled one of the Ducks' most inspiring defenses of the modern era."
Cota was the backbone of the "Gang Green" defense. He started for four years, played in 43 consecutive games and was No. 6 on the Ducks' career tackles list with 329.
As a junior, he paced the Ducks in tackles (86), interceptions (four) and forced fumbles (two).
A year later, he was a first-team all-Pac-10 Conference selection, making 91 tackles and two interceptions.
In the Rose Bowl, he helped the Ducks push top-ranked Penn State into the final quarter before the Nittany Lions pulled out a 38-20 victory.
Cota later received the Bill Hayward Award as the state's top amateur male athlete and went on to play in the NFL for Carolina, New Orleans, Indianapolis and St. Louis.
Harrington led the Ducks to their highest season-ending national ranking (second) in school history at the conclusion of the 2001 season. He had a winning percentage of .893 as the Oregon starter (25-3) for three seasons.
The first-team Academic All-American not only accounted for more touchdowns running, passing and receiving (78) than any other player in school history, he scored more points (108) than any other quarterback in an Oregon uniform.
He completed his collegiate career third on the school's all-time passing (6,911 yards), total offense (7,121 yards) and TD passes (59) ledgers.
Harrington was the third player taken in the 2002 NFL draft and played seven seasons with Detroit, Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans.
Knight was a middle-distance walk-on at Oregon under legendary track coach Bill Bowerman from 1955-59, but the former gained fame as a shoe designer and entrepreneur that led to the formation of Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964.
He and Bowerman later changed the face of athletic footwear with the creation of Nike.
Knight's contributions have made Oregon's athletic facilities among the nicest in the country.
Latham altered the fortunes of a basketball program that enjoyed only four winning seasons in the previous 15 years Oregon fielded a team. Doubling as a fullback in football, the three-sport letterman led the basketball team to unprecedented success in 1921, '23 and '24 as it accumulated a 45-20 record.
His commitment to football forced him to miss the 1921-22 season, and the team went only 7-24.
A teammate of Oregon's future legendary basketball coach, Howard Hobson, Latham concluded his senior year by becoming only the second first-team All-American in the history of the program.
Manning Strahm, from Roseburg, was second-team All-America in 1989 and a first-team Academic All-American two years later. She was a three-time all-Pac-10 choice.
With her in the lineup — she played six positions during her career — the Ducks made their first College World Series appearance in 1989.
Manning Strahm graduated as Oregon's career leader in runs (120), RBIs (119), doubles (21), triples (11), home runs (15) and stolen bases (72).