The last Arizona State quarterback to guide the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl was Jake Plummer, who did so in the 1996 season.
That season, “The Snake” threw for 2,575 yards and 23 touchdowns, and added three scores via the ground and one more as a receiver.
He was the first Sun Devil to ever be named the Pac-10’s Offensive Player of the Year, and he finished third in the Heisman voting.
He was a great quarterback who guided the Sun Devils to unprecedented levels of success.
This season, ASU is on the verge of once again reaching the Rose Bowl, needing only to knock off No. 7 Stanford at Sun Devil Stadium Saturday to win the Pac-12 Championship.
The quarterback of this year’s team, Taylor Kelly, has thrown for 3,337 yards and 27 touchdowns, while adding another 437 yards and eight scores on the ground.
The QB’s stats are different, but the results have been the same. And as a guest of Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Thursday, the last QB to lead the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl said it’s a little like déjà vu.
“We’re both white boys from Idaho,” Plummer joked with Doug and Wolf Thursday morning. “There’s definitely some similarities.”
Plummer, who is now an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks, said it was an “honor” when he met Kelly and learned the young QB “had posters of me on his wall when he was growing up.” He added that while Kelly thought meeting Plummer was a thrill, the feeling was mutual.
Granted, hometowns and skin tone are not the only similarities the two share, though Plummer admitted he saw a graphic of Kelly on the Pac-12 Network and was forced to take second glance because of how much Kelly looked like him.
“He actually throws on the run better at this stage of his career as a junior than I did at my stage as a junior in college,” Plummer noted.
But Kelly’s success, much like Plummer’s more than a decade ago, is not all about his physical attributes.
“You can tell he just loves to be out there playing football,” Plummer said. “And what he’s doing right now and leading that offense…that’s pretty amazing. You can’t do that without a guy back there pulling the trigger and not scared to pull the trigger.”
Sounds like Plummer, doesn’t it?
The two were about the same size in college as well, but each had a fearless mentality and willingness to take chances, most of which turned out to be successful.
“He’s got a fierce competitive streak in him and he likes to play hard for his team, and that’s really all I tried to do is give it my best and play my best and my hardest for my teammates,” he said. “I see him doing that and I really like it.
“He’s definitely got the abilities, he can throw it all over the field. I love watching him throw on the run, and when he runs the ball — when he gets out there and uses his legs to get first downs — they’re a pretty hard offense to stop.”