Todd Reesing—a name that still echoes through memorial stadium as if Kansas fans that filled it were pleading with the football Gods to give him one more year of eligibility. That request, year in and year out, would unfortunately be denied.
But why was Reesing so great? How was he different than the last dozen QB’s that have played for Kansas?
Well, one thing was for sure, the man was no mystery unlike the last eight years the QB position has brought upon us. Kansas fans knew full well what they would get from him each and every game day, and it was as consistent as grandma’s apple pie.
He showed emotion as he fired up the offense with his undeniable energy. He escaped catastrophe when it looked as if he’d been cornered, countered and beaten. He stood tall behind the sea of giants that protected him even though he was eight shoe sizes smaller. And most importantly, he never backed down. He may have been the smallest player on the field but he was easily the toughest.
I still remember my favorite play of Reesing’s and surprisingly enough it wasn’t during the Orange Bowl season. It was against Missouri in 2008 and it was cold and bitter just as the rivalry lived up to. Kansas was down 33-37 with 33 seconds left as they lay stuck at the 27 yard line. The down was fourth with seven yards to go and this was their last chance. As he hiked the ball and stepped back you could see Missouri brought the blitz. Todd raced around the ensuing monsters that stood at least six inches taller than him, and he managed to escape enough to get the ball away.
It wasn’t the prettiest of throws, and it wasn’t the prettiest of plays, but as he stepped up and tossed the ball to the end zone one could only pray, “I hope there’s a receiver there.” Sure enough, there was. Kerry Meier had broken free from the coverage and as Reesing made his magical escape, all the while keeping his eyes down field, he noticed it. And the pass—it was perfect. He caught Meier in stride and it was about as perfect of an ending to a rivalry game that you could ask for.
This play, it had all the great things about Todd Reesing. It’s like your favorite movie that you’ve seen at least a dozen times. It made you laugh, it made you cry and it gave you chills. That’s what Todd Reesing did to me that day. He made me laugh, he made me cry and that last play, it gave me chills.
Of course that was just one play. The man we call Todd did this time and time again all throughout his career. It even got to the point where we just expected it. And that’s when you know you’re in the presence of greatness, when you begin to expect it.
But as his career came to a close, Kansas fans began to wonder, what’s next? If they could see into the future they’d hang on just a little tighter. Maybe they’d have gone to more games to witness his greatness in person. Maybe they’d ask to shake the heroes hand and never wash it again. Or maybe they would just simply remember and reminisce every chance they had.
Either way, Todd’s memory will live on forever. All you have to do is look at the record books. His name is speckled all over as if someone had dipped a paint brush into a pail of Todd Reesing paint and splattered it.
And when I say he holds all of the quarterback records, I don’t mean he holds a lot of them. I do mean he holds ALL of them.
He’s first in career passing yards with 11,194. The next closest? Frank Seuer with 6,410.
He holds the most passing yards in a year with 3,888. And he follows that up with also being second at 3,616 yards, and then third with 3,486. The next guy in line? Mike Norseth comes in at fourth with 2,995.
He holds the single game most passing yards in a game with 498. Coming in at second? Also Mike Norseth with 480. But Todd even holds the third place spot with 442.
He holds the career passing touchdowns record coming in with 90. The next guy? David Jaynes with 35.
He holds the single season passing touchdown record with 33. He then follows that up with also finishing second at 32 touchdowns and third with 22. Bill Whittemore comes in at fourth with 18.
And finally, he holds the most passing touchdowns in a game with six. Remember that Nebraska game where Kansas almost put up 80 points? That was that game.
But if all of that isn’t enough to ingrain Todd’s legacy in your brain for the rest of your Jayhawk fan tenure, then walk outside of what’s now called David Booth Memorial Stadium. You’ll see a familiar face as a banner in Todd Reesing’s honor hangs—tall, proud and confident as he’ll ever be.