Tracy Ham - Quarterback - Georgia Southern - 1996-99
Tracy Ham was an expert at running the option offence while in college at Georgia Southern. Ham is considered a legend at the school. His prowess and athletic ability led him to being drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1987 NFL draft in the 9th round 240th overall. The NFL envisioned Tracy as a running back but the High Springs, Florida native wanted to continue as a quarterback.
Ham signed with the Edmonton Eskimos in June 1987, he joined a team loaded with future quarterback stars in Matt Dunigan and Damon Allen. By the 1988 season Tracy was getting decent playing time sharing with Damon Allen. By 1989 Allen had left the team and took advantage of the playing time leading the Eskimos to a 16-2 regular season record under coach Joe Faragelli. The Eskimos would be upset by eventual Grey Cup champions Saskatchewan in the Western Final in 1989 but Ham would go on to be named the league Most Outstanding Player. For the season he passed for 4,360 yards and 30 touchdowns, incredibly he added 1,005 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns for one of the greatest statistical seasons ever for a quarterback.
The extremely athletic Ham would help redefine the quarterback position in Canadian Football in the early 1990's. Scrambling ability had long been an aspect of successful CFL quarterbacks, Ham along with other QB's of the time in Damon Allen and Doug Flutie brought the rushing threat of the quarterback to a new level.
By the end of the 1992 season Ham had entrenched himself as one of the premiere quarterbacks in the league. Contract disputes led to Ham being traded to Toronto for the 1993 season in a 10 player deal. Ham was meant to excel under new Argo coach Darrell "Mouse" Davis' run and shoot offence but the result was not a success. Ham struggled mightily in Toronto. By the end of the season it seemed that the regard for Ham had fallen a great
deal around the league, Don Matthews knew better. Matthews had been recruited to coach the new Baltimore franchise in 1994. Matthews elected to bring Ham to Baltimore as a veteran with a great deal of CFL experience. The plan worked Ham along with all-stars in Running Bank Mike Pringle and receiver Chris Armstrong would form the nucleus of the leagues most successful franchise over the next two seasons. The success would culminate in Baltimore's Grey Cup victory over Calgary in 1995.
Following the dissolution of the American franchises the remnants of Baltimore were moved to Montreal. Ham was the face of the team back in Montreal. The club did well but was unable to get past the Doug Flutie led Argonauts in 1996 and 97. Following that Ham would continue to lead Montreal to regular season success but the Hamilton Tiger Cats were the nemesis for 1998 and 99. Ham would retire prior to the 2000 season turning over the quarterbacking duties to the capable hands of Anthony Calvillo. Over his career Ham carried himself with class, his athletic prowess changed how the position was played and viewed. Tracy Ham left his mark with incredible results over 12 seasons.
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