The Top 100 College Football Players of the BCS Era
100. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
2008-11 (WR #9)
Be it through the air, on the ground or in the kicking game, Austin was as productive as any of his larger, more physical counterparts. He was a two-time All-American and two-time Big East Special Teamer of the Year. He posted back-to-back 100-catch/1,000-yard seasons and was a 1,000-yard rusher for his career. In fact, Austin’s signature performance came as a runner against Oklahoma when he nearly set an NCAA record for all-purpose production with 572 yards. He finished eighth in the Heisman voting.
99. Alex Brown, DE, Florida
1997-01 (DL #17)
The two-time, first-team All-American set the school record for sacks before his Gators career ended. Brown was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 and helped Florida claim the 2000 SEC title. He was a three-time, first-team All-SEC player and finished his career with 161 tackles, 47 for a loss and 33 sacks before getting taken in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft.\
98. LaMarr Woodley, DE, Michigan
2003-06 (DL #16)
The Wolverines' terror off the edge posted 12 sacks as a senior en route to the Lombardi, Hendricks and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Awards. He was a unanimous All-American and won two Big Ten titles before being drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Steelers.
97. Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn
2001-04 (DB #14)
The Tigers coverman started 10 games as a freshman, earning Freshman All-American honors. He was a mainstay on the outside of Auburn’s defense for four years and it culminated in a historic 2004 campaign. Rogers was named the Thorpe Award winner, an All-American and helped Auburn to a perfect 13-0 record. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
96. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma
2006-09 (TE #2)
Had the 6-foot-6, 260-pound star tight end stayed healthy and played his fourth season at Oklahoma, Gresham likely would have been the best player at his position during the BCS era. He scored 25 touchdowns in two seasons as the starter from — just eight shy of the NCAA TE record (33). His All-American junior season features Sooners' TE records for yards (950) and TDs (14). He was arguably the top playmaker for a Big 12 champion and BCS National Championship runner-up in '08. His season-ending knee injury prior to the '09 campaign left those in Norman wondering what could have been.
95. Al Wilson, LB, Tennessee
1995-98 (LB #16)
Wilson isn’t as decorated as some of his BCS brethren but few players had as big an impact on their team as the Vols middle linebacker. He helped lead Tennessee to two SEC championships and the historic and unblemished 1998 national title. He was a consensus All-American, a consummate teammate on and off the field and was the 31st overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.
94. A.J. Hawk, LB, Ohio State
2002-05 (LB #15)
Yet another Buckeyes great, Hawk started 38 of his 51 career college games for Ohio State. He contributed to the 2002 BCS National Championship squad as a freshman before earning two-time consensus All-American honors in 2004-05. As a senior, Hawk earned the Lombardi and Lambert Trophies for his play and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He finished his career with 394 tackles, 41.0 for loss, 15.5 sacks and seven INTs.
93. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
2008-10 (RB #13)
Ingram is the only Heisman winner in Alabama’s storied history, and he might not have been the best back on his own team. From Flint, Mich., Ingram led Bama to the national championship in 2009 with 1,658 yards and 17 scores. It was his only 1,000-yard season while in Tuscaloosa. No Bama player has scored more rushing touchdowns than Ingram.
92. Drew Brees, QB, Purdue
1997-00 (QB #16)
The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year led Purdue back to the Rose Bowl and finished among the top four in Heisman voting twice (1999, 2000). He owns the NCAA record for passes attempted in a game with 83 tosses against Wisconsin in 1998 and is the Big Ten's all-time leader in completions (1,003), passing yards, passing touchdowns, total yards and total touchdowns.
91. Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
2007-10 (QB #15)
No player was more dynamic both passing and rushing than Kaepernick. He is one of four player in the 6,000-4,000 club and accounted for 141 total touchdowns. The two-time WAC Player of the Year is the league's all-time leader in yards per carry (6.9) and touchdowns (60). He finished eighth in the Heisman voting in 2010 and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl as just a second-year NFL player. He was simply impossible to stop in Reno.
90. Dat Nguyen, LB, Texas A&M
1995-98 (LB #14)
Arguably the most decorated Texas A&M defender, Nguyen was a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection and his 517 career tackles are an Aggies record. His career in College Station culminated in 1998 with a historic and adorned senior season. Nguyen was named the Bednarik and Lombardi Award winner and earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors as well. The unanimous All-American was a third-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2004.
89. Chase Coffman, TE, Missouri
2005-2008 (TE #1)
It didn’t take long for Tigers fans to see what they had in Coffman as he earned first-team Freshman All-American honors in 2005. He then broke Mizzou tight end receiving records with 58 rec., 638 yards and nine TD as a sophomore. After two straight All-Big 12 seasons, Coffman claimed the John Mackey Award as a senior as the nation’s top tight end after posting 90 rec., 987 yards and 10 TD. Missouri went 22-6 over his final two seasons in what many believe to be the best two-year run in program history.
88. Pat White, QB, West Virginia
2005-08 (QB #14)
He left school as the NCAA's all-time leading rusher as a quarterback and was a stalwart in Morgantown for four years. He earned Big East Player of the Year honors twice and is the only player in NCAA history to start and win four bowl games. He finished sixth and seventh in the Heisman voting in 2006 and '07 and has a Big East-record 103 total touchdowns.
87. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
2009-11 (RB #12)
Richardson is one of the most physically imposing running backs to ever play the game. The Pensacola product only started for one season but became the only SEC running back to rush for 20 touchdowns in a season. He won two national titles and is one of the rarest combinations of size, speed and agility.
86. Cedric Benson, RB, Texas
2001-04 (RB #11)
The Longhorns running back is one of the most productive running backs in history. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting two separate times and is one of only six players to score at least 60 rushing touchdowns. The Midland (Texas) Lee star posted four season of at least 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns while in Austin.
85. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
2006-09 (QB #13)
McCoy was a consensus All-American and won the Big 12 Player of the Year while finishing second in the Heisman in 2008. He won the Walter Camp, Davey O'Brien and finished third in the Heisman voting in 2009. He left school with more wins than any quarterback in history (since broken), led his team to the national title game and owns the NCAA single-season record for completion percentage (76.7).
84. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis
2002-05 (RB #10)
Not many players have claimed three conference player of the year honors but the Wynne (Ark.) High prospect did so in Conference USA for Memphis. He finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting in 2005 after his second straight 1,900-yard season. He is one of only three players with at least 6,000 yards rushing and he scored 60 total touchdowns during his career. Only once (2003) did Williams not average more than 6.0 yards per carry.
83. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
2009-12 (RB #9)
Ball won’t be confused with the most talented running backs of the BCS era but few have been as successful and productive. No one player in the history of the sport has scored as many touchdowns: 77 rush, 83 total. He finished fourth in the Heisman balloting as a junior and won the Doak Walker as senior while leading the Badgers to three straight Big Ten championships. His 39 touchdowns in 2011 tied Barry Sanders for the all-time single-season record and Ball earned consensus All-American honors in both seasons.
82. Torry Holt, WR, NC State
1995-98 (WR #8)
Holt capped his outstanding Wolfpack career with an ACC Player of the Year award in the first year of the BCS. Over his final two seasons in Raleigh, he caught 150 passes for 2,703 yards and 27 touchdowns (he also threw a 45-yard TD pass), finishing eighth in the Heisman voting in 1998. Holt set all types of NC State and ACC records during his college career and he went on to become one of the NFL’s greatest wide receivers.
81. Russell Wilson, QB, NC State/Wisconsin
2008-11 (QB #12)
Not many players own school records for two different programs but Wilson excelled in both the ACC and Big Ten. He posted the single greatest season by a Wisconsin QB in history en route to a league crown and near national title berth. He owns the NCAA record for consecutive games with a TD pass (38) and the single-season mark for passing efficiency at 191.8. His NFL rookie season with the Seahawks only solidifies his standing as one of the game's greatest players.
80. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
2008-11 (QB #11)
The underachiever from Boise State has numbers that most quarterbacks only dream about. He's the all-time winningest quarterback in college football history with an unreal 50-3 record and left school with an NCAA record 142 TD passes (since broken). He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, won two WAC Player of the Year awards and three conference championships. He set most school passing records as a sophomore as he led his team to a 14-0 perfect season and a Fiesta Bowl win over TCU.
79. Alex Barron, OL, Florida State
2001-04 (OL #13)
The 6-foot-8, 315-pounder was arguably Florida State’s top lineman of the BCS era. He was a two-time consensus All-American (2003-04) and an Outland Trophy finalist in 2004. He was the 19th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Rams.
78. Champ Bailey, CB, Georgia
1996-98 (DB #13)
From a versatility standpoint, few have ever been as explosive and dynamic as Champ Bailey. He was a lockdown cornerback, an elite returnman and a dangerous wide receiver. His senior season — the only year he played during the BCS era — Bailey posted 52 tackles and three interceptions on defense and caught 47 passes for 744 yards and five scores on offense. He was a two-time, first-team All-SEC pick and won the Nagurski Trophy in 1998.
77. Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan
2001-2004 (WR #7)
Not many players have three consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards and at least 10 touchdowns but that is what the Detroit native did at Michigan. He was uncoverable during his time at Ann Arbor, setting school records in every major receiving category. His 39 career touchdowns remain a Big Ten record. Edwards claimed Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors and claimed the Biletnikoff Award as a senior in 2004. The consensus All-American finished 10th in the Heisman voting that season.
76. Jamar Fletcher, CB, Wisconsin
1998-2000 (DB #12)
The Badgers’ coverman has as complete a resume as any during the BCS era. He was a two-time, first-team All-American and three-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection. He helped Wisconsin to back-to-back Big Ten and Rose Bowl championships and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He holds UW’s all-time record with 21 interceptions and was named the nation’s top defensive back with the Thorpe and Tatum Trophies as a senior in 2000. He was a first-round pick in 2001.
75. Troy Polamalu, S, USC
1999-02 (DB #11)
The big-play machine was a three-year starter for the West Coast powerhouse. He was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection, a consensus All-American and stuffed the stat sheet his entire career. The big hitter finished with 278 tackles, 29.0 for loss, six interceptions and four blocked punts. Polamalu led USC back to prominence with a league title and trip to the Orange Bowl before being taken in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
74. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
2009-11 (WR #6)
Blackmon’s numbers are inflated due to an elite offensive system, but make no mistake, he's the one of the greatest college pass-catchers. He posted back-to-back seasons with at least 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns, earning consensus All-American honors twice. He also became just the second player in NCAA history to claim two Biletnikoff Awards. Blackmon won Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2010 and capped his illustrious career with a Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl MVP performance against Stanford. He is one of just four wide receivers to finish in the top five for the Heisman Trophy (5th, 2010).
73. Mark Barron, S, Alabama
2008-11 (DB #9)
The superstar safety was a three-time All-SEC pick, two-time All-American and helped the Crimson Tide win two BCS National Championships. He finished his career with 237 tackles, 13.0 for loss, 5.0 sacks and 12 interceptions. Many coaches called him the best player in the SEC in 2011 and he was taken with the seventh overall pick in the '12 NFL Draft.
72. Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers
2005-07 (RB #8)
Rice meant more to his team than most all other RBs. He rushed for nearly 5,000 yards and 50 TD in three years after back-to-back seasons with at least 335 carries, 1,794 yards and 20 touchdowns. He is second all-time in rushing yards and carries in Big East history and has developed into one of the most talented running backs in the NFL.
71. Antoine Winfield, CB, Ohio State
1995-98 (DB #9)
Winfield might be the most underrated defensive back in the history of all levels of football. The consensus All-American helped Ohio State win 43 games in four years and nearly (or should have) played in the first BCS National Championship game in 1998. He was given the Thorpe and Tatum honors as a senior as the nation’s top defensive back before being selected 23rd overall in the 1999 NFL Draft.
70. Derrick Strait, CB, Oklahoma
2000-03 (DB #8)
As the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year, Strait helped lead the Sooners to a perfect BCS National Championship as a freshman. By his senior season, Strait had led Oklahoma back to the BCS national title game and was recognized nationally with the Thorpe and Nagurski Trophies as the nation’s top defensive player. Strait also was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2003 before getting selected in the third round of the '04 NFL Draft.
69. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
2009-11 (DB #7)
One of the best pure covermen in the history of the SEC, Claiborne was a lock-down corner for LSU in two full seasons as the starter. He developed a reputation as a sophomore with five picks and 37 tackles en route to All-SEC honors. After that, no one threw at him. Despite teams staying away from him and a teammate getting more Heisman hype, Claiborne was named the nation’s top defensive back with the Thorpe Award and was a unanimous All-American. He helped LSU to a perfect 13-0 regular-season mark and an SEC title and a berth in the BCS national title game.
68. Steve Hutchinson, OL, Michigan
1996-2000 (OL #12)
Starting for four seasons for the Wolverines, Hutchinson helped the Wolverines win the 1997 national championship. He capped his career with consensus All-American honors, was an Outland Trophy finalist and didn’t allow a sack in his final two seasons at Michigan. He was a first-round pick by the Seahawks in 2001 and earned seven Pro Bowl invites during his 12-year NFL career.
67. Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
2006-08 (WR #5)
A true dual-threat offensive talent, Harvin burst onto the scene as the SEC Freshman of the Year. He played a key role in the 2006 BCS National Championship run. He capped his college career with 14 touches for 171 yards from scrimmage and a TD in the 2008 BCS title game against Oklahoma. Few have combined speed, strength, production and winning like Harvin did. He nearly topped 2,000 yards both rushing and receiving, and, if not for nagging injuries his entire career, the Virginia Beach prospect might have been more decorated nationally.
66. Shawn Andrews, OL, Arkansas
2001-03 (OL #11)
A two-time consensus All-American, Andrews was an Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award finalist in 2003. He earned back-to-back Jacobs Blocking Awards as the SEC’s top lineman in 2002-03. Andrews was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Eagles and has been to three Pro Bowls.
65. Terrence Newman, CB, Kansas State
1998-02 (DB #6)
Newman did a little bit of everything for Bill Snyder and Kansas State. He returned kicks and punts and even played some wide receiver. The lockdown corner was a two-time All-Big 12 pick, unanimous All-American, Jim Thorpe Award winner and first-round pick by the Cowboys in 2003 (weirdly, also 5th overall). Newman also was a two-time Big 12 outdoor track champion in the 100 meters and the league champ in the indoor 60 meters.
64. Andre Smith, OL, Alabama
2006-08 (OL #10)
Smith was a dominant, five-star prospect from Birmingham before dominating the SEC for three seasons at Alabama. As a junior, Smith won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman and was a consensus All-American. He left school early or else would have been a part of the 2009 BCS championship team. Still, Smith gets credit for helping to rebuild Alabama and was selected with the sixth overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.
63. Darren Sproles, RB, Kansas State
2001-04 (RB #7)
Few players have ever been as valuable to their school as the diminutive Sproles. The all-purpose dynamo rushed for at least 1,300 yards in three straight seasons and he helped lead the Wildcats to an improbable Big 12 championship in '03. His 323 yards from scrimmage and four TD against Oklahoma in the title game will go down in history as arguably the greatest single game performance in Wildcat history. The Sunflower State native finished fifth in the Heisman voting that year.
62. Luke Joeckel, OL, Texas A&M
2010-12 (OL #9)
The supremely talented Joeckel helped lead the Aggies from the Big 12 to the SEC seamlessly due in large part to his blocking. He won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best lineman and earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the SEC’s top blocker. The consensus All-American was the No. 2 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2013 NFL Draft.
61. Jonathan Vilma, LB, Miami
2000-03 (LB #13)
During Vilma’s time on campus, the Hurricanes went an unbelievable 46-4 with wins in the Sugar, Rose and Orange Bowls. A three-year starter, including for the dominant 2001 National Champions, Vilma posted 377 total tackles and was a three-time, first-team All-Big East selection. He was honored with the Lambert Award in 2003 as the nation’s top linebacker. He was the 12th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.
60. Teddy Lehman, LB, Oklahoma
2000-03 (LB #12)
The Tulsa, Okla., native played in all 12 games for the 2000 BCS National Champions as a freshman. He was a three-year starter for the Sooners after that, posting 117 tackles and 19.0 TFL and earning the Butkus and Bednarik Awards while leading Oklahoma back to the BCS national title game in 2003. He was a two-time All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
59. Tommie Harris, DT, Oklahoma
2001-03 (DL #15)
Harris was a dominant interior lineman for three of the better Sooners teams of the BCS era. He helped lead his team to the BCS championship game in 2003 while claiming the Lombardi and Willis trophies. He was a two-time consensus All-American and the 14th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
58. Haloti Ngata, DT, Oregon
2003-05 (DL #14)
Arguably the best NFL defensive tackle of his generation, Ngata had to overcome a torn ACL in college. Once he recovered, the big interior stuffer posted 107 tackles, 17.5 for a loss and 6.5 sacks over his final two seasons in Eugene. He was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, a consensus All-American and the Morris Trophy winner before being selected 12th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft.
57. Dominic Raiola, C, Nebraska
1998-00 (OL #8)
At a school known for its big uglies, Raiola is the Huskers’ best of the BCS era. He was the first freshman O-lineman to start since 1991 when he took the field in 1998. The following two seasons he set school records for knockdowns. As a junior, Raiola was the Rimington Trophy winner as the nation’s top center, was an Outland Finalist and earned consensus All-American honors before leaving school early for the NFL.
56. Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU
2006-09 (DL #13)
In 2008, he recorded 18.5 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks and forced six fumbles en route to his first of two Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year awards. He also earned All-American honors that year. He returned to Fort Worth as a senior and posted 54 tackles and 11.5 sacks in his second MWC DPOY and All-American season. He was awarded the Hendricks and Lott Trophies in 2009 before being a late first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Hughes ended his Horned Frogs career with 139 tackles, 39 for a loss, 28.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles.
55. Rocky Calmus, LB, Oklahoma
1998-01 (LB #11)
A three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection and a two-time All-American, Calmus is one of the most important Sooners of all-time. He won the Butkus and Lambert Awards as senior in 2001 as the nation’s top linebacker but his play in '00 will go down in Oklahoma history. He led the vaunted Sooners defense to a perfect record and spearheaded arguably the greatest defensive performance of the BCS era by holding Florida State to zero offensive points in the BCS title game.
54. Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
2004-08 (DL #12)
The trophy case for the former Longhorn defensive end is packed with Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Nagurski, Lombardi, and Hendricks trophies. He was an All-American who played in 47 career games in Austin. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American was a contributing member in all 13 games of the 2005 BCS National Championship.
53. Andy Katzenmoyer, LB, Ohio State
1996-98 (LB #10)
His pro career notwithstanding, the Ohio State tackler was one of college football’s greatest tacklers during his time in Columbus. He was the first true freshman to ever start at linebacker for the Buckeyes, won the Butkus and Lambert Awards as just a sophomore and nearly led OSU to the inaugural BCS title game in 1998. He started all 37 games of his college career and finished with 18 sacks and 50.0 tackles for loss. He was a first-round pick by the Patriots in 1999.
52. Dwight Freeney, DE, Syracuse
1998-01 (DL #11)
Starring during the glory years of Orange football, Freeney left school as a two-time, first-team All-Big East performer after setting the conference’s single-season sack record (17.5). He finished with a school-record 34 career sacks and, at one point, posted 17 consecutive games with at least one QB takedown. His record-setting 2001 campaign made him a unanimous All-American and he finished ninth in the Heisman voting. Freeney posted 51.0 career tackles for a loss and was the 11th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.
51. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
2009-11 (LB #9)
Tackling. Machine. That is really all that needs to be said about the Boston College star defender. He was second nationally with 158 tackles as just a freshman, led the nation in tackles with 183 as a sophomore and led the world again in stops with 191 as a junior. So in just three seasons, Kuechly set the BC and ACC career tackle records en route to numerous awards. He was a two-time All-American, ACC Defensive Player of the Year, a first-round pick by Carolina in 2012 and won the Butkus, Lombardi, Nagurski, Lott and Lambert national trophies.
50. Cam Newton, QB, Florida/Auburn
2008, 2010 (QB #10)
His one season in 2010 was one of the best in history. He carried Auburn to a BCS title, won the Heisman Trophy as well as Davey O'Brien, Archie Manning, Maxwell, Walter Camp and AP Player of the Year honors. His one season on The Plains was one of the greatest single seasons in BCS history, but his overall career must be downgraded since he played just one season at Auburn. He was essentially kicked out of one school, intertwined with a recruiting scandal at another and left early for the NFL.
49. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
2007-09 (QB #9)
Bradford set a school record for yards in a half in the first half of his career and broke another school record for consecutive completions in his second game (22). By season's end, Bradford owned the NCAA's all-time freshman passing TD record with 36. He also won the Big 12 championship. The following season, Bradford led the Sooners to the BCS title game against Florida and beat out Tebow and Colt McCoy for the Heisman Trophy. He won Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien honors as well. Bradford owns the NCAA record for career quarterback efficiency at 175.6 and he owns the NCAA mark for yards per play as well (8.7). 86 of his 88 total touchdown passes came in just two seasons.
48. John Henderson, DT, Tennessee
1998-01 (DL #10)
As a freshman, Henderson helped lead the Vols to the 1998 BCS National Championship. By the time he had reached the end of his senior season, Henderson had posted 165 tackles and 20.5 sacks — a huge number for an interior defensive lineman — in two first-team All-American seasons. He is one of just four defensive players of the BCS era to claim the historic Outland Trophy and was taken with the ninth overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.
47. Elvis Dumervil, DL, Louisville
2002-05 (DL #9)
Dumervil burst onto the national scene with a 10-sack junior campaign. That was only a glimpse of things to come, however, as Dumervil posted one of the greatest single-seasons in NCAA history. As a senior, he set the NCAA record with six sacks against Kentucky and broke Dwight Freeney’s Big East single-season record with 20 sacks. He also set the NCAA record with 10 forced fumbles and claimed Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Nagurski, Hendricks and consensus All-American honors. He finished 10th in the Heisman voting.
46. Chris Weinke, QB, Florida State
1997-00 (QB #8)
There was little left unaccomplished in Weinkie's college career. He led his stacked Florida State squad to an undefeated BCS national title in 1999 over Virginia Tech before returning to win the Heisman as well as the Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas and Davey O'Brien awards the next season. His team lost one game over that span — the 2000 BCS title game against Oklahoma. He is still the ACC's all-time leader in yards per pass attempt (8.9).
45. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
2010-2013 (QB #7)
McCarron could leave Alabama as the most successful college quarterback in the history of the game. He already has three BCS National Championships — two as a starter — as he enters his final season for the Crimson Tide. He earned BCS title game MVP honors as a sophomore before leading the nation in passing efficiency last fall (175.3) with 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His offensive system will never allow him to post elite numbers and he has been surrounded by first-round draft picks his entire career, so he may never get the recognition he deserves.
44. Chris Long, DE, Virginia
2004-07 (DL #8)
The son of NFL Hall of Famer Howie, Long claimed ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as the Dudley and Hendricks Awards as a senior. He was a unanimous All-American after 79 total tackles, 19 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks in his final season, in which he also finished 10th in the Heisman voting. He finished his career with 182 tackles, 36.5 tackles for a loss and 20 sacks before being selected No. 2 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.
43. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
2011-13 (DL #7)
Certainly there is some projecting with this freakish athlete but no player has had a two-year start to a career like Clowney. He started as the SEC Freshman of the Year and earned freshman All-American honors after 36 total tackles, 12 for a loss, eight sacks and five forced fumbles. He refined his craft and exploded as a sophomore with 54 tackles, 23.5 for a loss and 13 sacks to go with three more forced fumbles, as he finished sixth in the Heisman voting a year ago. He was a unanimous All-American, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the Ted Hendricks Award recipient. Should he bring the school’s first SEC crown to Columbia, he may have a case as the greatest defensive lineman in the BCS era.
42. Jake Long, OL, Michigan
2003-07 (OL #7)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft (Miami) was a two-time All-American and Outland Trophy finalist. He was a Freshman All-American in his first year playing in college and was the Big Ten Lineman of the Year award twice as a junior and senior. He’s been to four Pro Bowls in his five-year NFL career.
41. Jammal Brown, OL, Oklahoma
2001-04 (OL #6)
Starting his career as a defensive tackle, Brown exploded onto the national scene as a blocker as a sophomore. He helped lead the Sooners to the BCS National Championship game twice and was recognized as the nation’s top offensive lineman in 2004 when he was awarded the Outland Trophy. The consensus All-American paved the way for Adrian Peterson’s NCAA record-setting freshman season. Brown was the 13th overall pick by the Saints in the 2005 NFL Draft.
40. Dan Morgan, LB, Miami
1997-00 (LB #8)
Beginning his career as fullback, fans in South Florida are happy he ended up tackling instead of blocking. The superstar linebacker won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top LB in 2000 as well as Nagurski, Bednarik and Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors. In fact, he was the first college player to claim all three awards. When Morgan left The U he owned the school and Big East record for career tackles with 532 and was taken with the 11th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by Carolina.
39. Peter Warrick, WR, Florida State
1995-99 (WR #4)
The phrase all-purpose wasn’t en vogue when Warrick broke onto the scene so the FSU superstar might deserve credit for the invention. And if not for an incident at Dillard’s Department Store that resulted in a two-game suspension, Warrick likely would have won the Heisman Trophy. The two-time consensus All-American could do it all. His joystick moves made him dynamic in the passing game, special teams and he was one of the first wideouts used in the running game. His Sugar Bowl MVP performance in the 1999 National Championship game (6 rec., 163 yds, 3 TD) will go down as one of the greatest national title performances in NCAA history.
38. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
2006-08 (WR #3)
No player has been as productive in two seasons. As a redshirt freshman, Crabtree set NCAA records for receptions (134), yards (1,962) and touchdowns (22) and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wideout. He also won Big 12 Newcomer and Offensive Player of the Year honors. He became the first player in NCAA history to win a second Biletnikoff Award when he caught 97 passes for 1,165 yards and 19 TDs in '08. He finished fifth in the Heisman balloting in ’08 — one of just four wide receivers to finish in the top five during the BCS era. Certainly, Mike Leach’s system inflated the two-time consensus All-American’s numbers, but the 6-foot-2, 215-pound wideout was — and still is — easily the most talented Texas Tech receiver in program history.
37. Paul Posluszny, LB, Penn State
2003-06 (LB #7)
As a junior, the Nittany Lions tackler was recognized as the nation’s top LB when he posted 116 tackles (11.0 TFL) en route to a Big Ten Championship, consensus All-American honors and both the Butkus and Bednarik Awards. He followed that up as a senior with a second Bednarik Award and second consensus All-American nod. The in-state Aliquippa (Pa.) Hopewell product was a second-round pick by the Bills in 2007.
36. E.J. Henderson, LB, Maryland
1999-02 (LB #6)
Henderson left Maryland with multiple NCAA records and numerous awards and honors. He owns the career tackles per game record (12.5), career solo tackles per game (8.8) and the single-season unassisted tackle record with 135 in 2002. That year, Henderson won his second ACC Defensive Player of the Year award and was awarded the Butkus, Lambert and Bednarik Awards nationally. He was a two-time All-American, Chick-fil-A Bowl MVP and second-round pick by the Vikings in 2003.
35. Corey Moore, DE, Virginia Tech
1996-99 (DL #6)
The undersized linebacker turned defensive end helped establish the modern era of Hokies football. By his junior season, Moore earned Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors with 67 tackles, 18.5 for a loss and 13.5 sacks for a team that beat Alabama in the inaugural Music City Bowl. A year later, Moore set the Big East single-season record with 17 sacks en route to the BCS National Championship game. He was a unanimous All-American, Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award winner and earned his second Big East Defensive Player of the Year award. He finished his collegiate career with 58.0 tackles for a loss and 35.0 sacks.
34. Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas
2001-04 (LB #5)
The big-play machine from Waco, Texas, was one of the greatest linebackers in Longhorns program history. He finished his career with 458 tackles, 65.0 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, nine interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Johnson was a three-time All-Big 12 selection and a two-time All-American. He capped his career with the Butkus, Lambert and Nagurski national awards as well as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors before being taken 15th overall by the Chiefs in the 2005 NFL Draft.
33. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
2009-12 (LB #4)
It’s possible that the Notre Dame linebacker is the most decorated college football player of all-time. As a senior, Te’o won the Butkus, Bednarik, Lambert, Lombardi, Nagurski and Lott awards while becoming the only defensive player of the BCS era to win the Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Trophy as well. He posted 113 tackles and seven interceptions while leading Notre Dame to a perfect regular season and BCS title game berth. His legacy off the field was soiled by a bizarre catfish scandal but shouldn’t factor into his spectacular overall college career.
32. Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
2008-10 (DB #5)
The supremely gifted Peterson played in every game as a true freshman for the defending BCS champs. One of the most versatile, impactful athletes in the nation, Peterson scored on both defense and special teams throughout his career. He was a dynamic return man who brought a rare explosiveness to the game. As a junior, Peterson won the Thorpe and Bednarik Awards and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year while being recognized as an All-American for a second time.
31. Chris Samuels, OL, Alabama
1996-99 (OL #5)
The massive 'Bama blocker earned every award possible for an offensive tackle. Samuels claimed the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy and earned the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman in 1999. He helped Alabama to its first SEC championship since 1992 and was a consensus All-American. He was picked third overall by the Redskins in the 2000 NFL Draft.
30. Sean Taylor, S, Miami
2001-03 (DB #4)
The 2001 Miami national title team might be the best college team ever assembled and Taylor was one of just four true freshman to see playing time that year. He earned All-Big East honors as a sophomore en route to another national title game in 2002. His 2003 campaign, however, is one of the best in school history. Taylor led the nation with 10 interceptions and his rare blend of size and speed made him Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Miami was 35-3 during Taylor’s time.
29. Greg Eslinger, C, Minnesota
2002-05 (OL #4)
Not many centers have an Outland Trophy on their mantle at home but Eslinger does (2005). He was a freshman All-American in 2002, a third-team All-American as a sophomore, a first-teamer in '04 and earned consensus All-American honors as a senior. He won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center and earned Big Ten Lineman of the Year honors in ’05 too. The best stat for Eslinger, however, is that Minnesota never had a losing record during his four-year career and had the school’s first 10-win campaign since 1905.
28. Reggie Bush, RB, USC
2003-05 (RB #6)
Sort of a first of his kind, the all-purpose talent was unstoppable with the ball in his hands. He played a prominent role on the '03 National Championship team before providing 908 yards rushing, 509 yards receiving, nearly 1,000 return yards and 15 total TD during USC’s 2004 romp to a second national title. He exploded as a junior, rushing for 1,740 yards on a ridiculous 8.7 yards per carry and scoring 19 times. He earned his second consecutive Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year award as well as the Doak Walker, Walter Camp and Heisman Trophy. His career 7.3 per carry average is fourth all-time.
27. Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech
1999-00 (QB #6)
Johnny Manziel might be the only redshirt freshman to ever match Vick's impact on the game in just one season. The Hokies signal caller revolutionized the quarterback position in one year as he led Virginia Tech to its only BCS title game appearance with unprecedented foot speed and arm strength. He dropped jaws and popped eyes every step of the way, including a furious second-half comeback in the Sugar Bowl against eventual champion Florida State. He finished third and sixth in the Heisman voting both years he played, and had he stayed three full seasons under center, he could have pushed Young or Tebow for top billing simply based on never-before-seen athleticism.
26. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, TCU
1997-00 (RB #5)
The mid-level recruit had one of the greatest careers in NCAA history. After two solid seasons, L.T. took over the national scene as a junior with 1,974 yards and 20 TD, including the NCAA single-game rushing record of 406 yards against UTEP. He backed that up with another 2,158 yards and 22 scores, winning the Doak Walker, his second WAC Offensive Player of the Year award, consensus All-American honors and a fourth place finish in the Heisman voting. He scored 162 TDs in his NFL career.
25. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
2008-11 (QB #5)
Griffin III beat out Andrew Luck to win the 2011 Heisman Trophy while leading Baylor to back-to-back bowl games. He led the NCAA in passing efficiency (189.5), was a consensus All-American and won the Davey O'Brien and Manning awards to go with his stiff-armed trophy. In fact, RG3 is just one of the few players to have meant more to their school than Luck. His impact on Baylor Bears football is immeasurable and could continue for decades. Had he been healthy for his entire career — he missed nine games in 2009 — his numbers might have been the best the BCS era has ever seen.
24. Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
2004-06 (WR #3)
Appropriately nicknamed Megatron, no player has combined the size and speed Johnson possesses. He was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2004 before earning back-to-back All-American honors in 2005-06. He owns school records for receiving yards and touchdowns during his time at Tech and claimed the Biletnikoff Award as well as ACC Player of the Year honors in 2006. He is one of 13 wide receivers to finish in the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting during the BCS era (10th). He is simply a freak of nature.
23. Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee
2007-09 (DB #3)
He posted a school record with 222 INT return yards on five picks, led all SEC freshmen with 86 tackles and was named SEC Freshman of the Year. He then returned seven INT for 265 yards as a sophomore en route to his first of two unanimous All-American seasons. He was also the SEC Defensive Player of the Year that year. As a junior, Berry returned to win the Thorpe and Jack Tatum Awards and ended with an SEC record for INT return yards. Used on offense and special teams as well, Berry’s superior athletic ability made him the fifth overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.
22. Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
2005-07 (RB #4)
When it comes to pure breakaway speed and big play ability, few can match Run-DMC’s talent. The North Little Rock prospect finished second in Heisman balloting in back-to-back seasons, coming up just short to Troy Smith in 2006 and Tim Tebow in 2007. McFadden won the Doak Walker and SEC Offensive Player of the Year awards in both consensus All-American seasons. His 4,590 yards is No. 2 all-time in SEC history to only Herschel Walker. He helped lead Arkansas to the SEC Championship Game in 2006 but came up short against eventual national champion Florida.
21. Ron Dayne, RB, Wisconsin
1996-99 (RB #3)
Dayne is the only player in history with 7,000 yards rushing and is one of four players to score at least 70 rushing TD. He carried the ball more than any player in history (1,220) and he owns multiple BCS bowl rushing records with his two Rose Bowl MVP performances. He capped his illustrious career with a 2,000-yard Heisman Trophy and Big Ten championship season. The consensus All-American won Big Ten Player of the Year, Maxwell, Walter Camp and Doak Walker recognition in his final season.
20. Joe Thomas, OL, Wisconsin
2003-06 (OL #3)
One of the few big-time recruits from the state of Wisconsin, Thomas was a two-time All-American and Outland Trophy winner for a team that went 31-7 during his three seasons as the starting left tackle. He has rare footspeed, agility and overall athletic ability — and it’s why he has been to the Pro Bowl in all six of his NFL seasons. He was taken No. 3 overall in 2007 by the Cleveland Browns.
19. Patrick Willis, LB, Ole Miss
2003-06 (LB #3)
The unheralded Tennessee native was overlooked by most of the SEC big boys and made them all pay by becoming the league’s best linebacker of the BCS era. Rising from utter poverty to the best LB in the nation, Willis claimed the Butkus and Lambert Awards in 2006. He posted 265 tackles and 21.0 for loss over his final two seasons, earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and All-American status as a senior.
18. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
2009-12 (OL #2)
No offensive lineman during the BCS era was more decorated than the Memphis native. He started at right guard and earned freshman All-American honors for the 2009 BCS champs. He slid out to left tackle in 2011 and won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman for the 2011 BCS champs. Jones then manned the pivot and won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center for the 2012 BCS champs. The two-time consensus All-American won three national titles at three different positions while graduating with a Master’s Degree and 4.0 GPA.
17. James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
2005-08 (LB #2)
Few players in the nation are as decorated, productive, talented and successful as the Minneapolis native. Laurinaitis won the Butkus, Nagurski, two Lambert Awards and two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year awards while being a three-time All-American. He posted three straight seasons of at least 115 tackles and helped Ohio State win a share of four Big Ten titles, including two trips to the BCS National Championship game.
16. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2009-11 (QB #4)
Few players have meant more to their school in history than Luck meant to Stanford. He led his program to its first BCS bowl win and set every school passing record en route. The two-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year finished second in the Heisman twice (2010, '11) and won the Unitas, Walter Camp and Maxwell awards in 2011. He is the Pac-12's all-time leader in completion percentage, yards per play (8.5) and passing efficiency (162.8). He was 27-4 in his last 31 starts and has an architecture degree from Stanford.
15. Julius Peppers, DE, North Carolina
1999-01 (DL #5)
From a talent standpoint, few players have ever been able to match Peppers' freakish quickness and size. As a two-sport star in Chapel Hill, Peppers was a freshman All-American in 1999 before leading the nation in sacks (15.0) as a sophomore. He capped his junior season as a consensus All-American along with Lombardi, Bednarik and Willis Trophy honors. Peppers finished 10th in the Heisman voting in 2001. He started 33 of 34 possible career games and finished with 167 tackles and 30.5 sacks. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.
14. LaVar Arrington, LB, Penn State
1997-99 (LB #1)
Arrington was an elite leader who helped Penn State to a 28-9 record during his three-year tenure in Happy Valley. He was named as the Butkus and Lambert Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker and was the recipient of the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player after 72 tackles, 20 for loss, nine sacks and two blocked kicks in 1999. He was a consensus All-American and has arguably the most signature defensive play of the BCS Era when he leapt over the Illinois offensive line on 4th-and-1 to secure the win.
13. Terrell Suggs, DE, Arizona State
2000-02 (DL #4)
The star pass-rusher is best known as the NCAA’s all-time single-season sack master when he totaled 24 QB takedowns in 2002. That year, Suggs was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and the inaugural Ted Hendricks Award winner. The accolades didn’t end there, however, as he also took home the Lombardi, Nagurski and Willis trophies as well. He led the NCAA with 31.5 tackles for a loss and forced six fumbles that year tool. He finished his Sun Devils career with 163 tackles, a school-record 65.5 for a loss, 44 sacks and 14 forced fumbles.
12. Ricky Williams, RB, Texas
1995-98 (RB #2)
The power back from San Diego gave fans in Austin a preview of things to come when he rushed for 990 yards as a true freshman fullback. His two-year run as an upperclassmen may never be matched as he posted back-to-back seasons with at least 1,800 yards and 25 rushing TD. Williams was a two-time consensus All-American, a two-time Doak Walker Award winner, a two-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and claimed the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award and Heisman Trophy as a senior. He left school as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher (since broken) and he is one of four players to ever score at least 70 rushing TD.
11. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
2004-07 (DL #3)
The local kid from Baton Rouge helped lead LSU to an SEC and BCS National Championship in 2007 while earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He also claimed the Outland, Nagurski and Lott Trophies as well as the Lombardi Award — becoming the first LSU Tiger to win any of those prestigious awards. Dorsey wound up ninth in the Heisman voting '07 too. He was a two-time All-American and finished with 179 tackles, 27 for a loss and 13 sacks. He started 31 of his 52 career games and was drafted fifth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.
10. Roy Williams, S, Oklahoma
1999-01 (DB #2)
One of the biggest hitters in college football history, Williams dominated college football during his time in Norman. He led the Sooners to an unbeaten BCS National Championship in 2000 while setting the school record for tackles for loss by a defensive back (12.0). The following year, he claimed the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back as well as the Nagurski and Jack Tatum Trophies and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was a unanimous All-American, first-round pick of the Cowboys in 2002 and will go down in Red River Shootout lore for this spectacular play in the Cotton Bowl.
9. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
2006-09 (DL #2)
The Boy Named Suh won the 2009 Outland and Nagurski Trophies as well as the Lombardi, Bednarik and Willis Awards. He was the first defensive player to win AP Player of the Year honors since its inception in 1998 and he finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in ’09. That year Suh claimed the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award when he came up just seconds shy of leading the Huskers to their first conference championship since 1999. He finished his career with 215 tackles, 57 for a loss, 24 sacks and six blocked kicks.
8. David Pollack, DE, Georgia
2001-04 (DL #1)
The Bulldogs' defensive end is the most decorated defensive lineman of the BCS era. Pollack is a three-time first-team All-SEC and All-American, twice earning consensus All-American honors. He won the SEC Player of the Year award twice in 2002 and '04 as well as the Bednarik, Hendricks (twice), Lombardi and Lott Awards. He and roommate David Greene helped lead Georgia to its first SEC title (2002) in two decades. His highlight-reel plays — namely against South Carolina — and UGA all-time sack record (36.0) makes him the greatest defensive lineman of the BCS era.
7. Bryant McKinnie, OL, Miami
2000-01 (OL #1)
He only played two seasons for Miami after beginning at Lackawanna College (Pa.) but he was downright unstoppable during his time in a Hurricanes' uniform. He was an All-American in both seasons, won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman and led Miami to a 23-1 record and the 2001 BCS National Championship. He is the only offensive lineman during the BCS era to finish in the top 10 of Heisman Trophy balloting. The Pro Bowl left tackle was the seventh overall pick by the Vikings in the 2002 NFL Draft.
6. Matt Leinart, QB, USC
2003-05 (QB #3)
Leinart won two national titles in three years starting at powerhouse USC under Pete Carroll. He finished in the top six of Heisman voting in all three seasons, winning the award in 2004, finishing sixth in 2003 and third in 2005. He also earned AP Player of the Year, Manning, Walter Camp, Unitas and consensus All-American honors during his remarkable Heisman campaign of 2004. He capped the season with arguably the second-best performance by a quarterback in a national title game by dissecting Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
5. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Pitt
2002-03 (WR #1)
Few players have ever been as impossible to cover as th Pitt star. He became the first Panther to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, owns the school record with 34 TD (in just 26 games) and owns the NCAA record for consecutive games with a TD reception (18). As a sophomore in his final season at Pitt, he caught 92 passes for 1,672 yards and 22 TD, winning Big East Player of the Year honors and the Walter Camp and Biletnikoff awards. His second-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting is the highest by any wide receiver during the BCS era.
4. Ed Reed, S, Miami
1998-01 (DB #1)
The star safety is one of the greatest to ever put on the pads. He led the team as a freshman in INTs and forced fumbles en route to back-to-back All-American seasons in 2000 and '01. He led the nation as a senior with nine INT for 209 yards and three TD. His leadership helped a stacked Miami team go unbeaten and claim the BCS National Championship in 2001. He was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Reed holds the school record for career interceptions (21), return yards (389) and defensive touchdowns (5). Oh by the way, Reed was a Big East track and field champ in the javelin.
3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
2004-06 (RB #1)
The BCS version of Herschel Walker or Bo Jackson was "All-Day." A three-time first-team All-Big 12 runner finished No. 2 in the Heisman Trophy voting as a true freshman in 2004. His 1,925 yards was an NCAA record for a true freshman and it earned him unanimous All-American honors. Despite missing chunks of time with injuries in each of his next two seasons, Peterson still topped 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. His natural blend of power, speed, size and balance has never been duplicated during the BCS era. He rushed for 970 yards for the Vikings in 2011 in a season shortened by a torn ACL, the only time since high school that A.D. hasn’t rushed for at least 1,000 yards.
2. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
2006-09 (QB #2)
Four years of huge statistics makes him the all-time SEC leader in total yards, total touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and passing efficiency (170.8). He won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 as well as the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Award. He won the SEC Player of the Year, Manning and Maxwell Awards the following year in which he led Florida to its second national title in three years. He fell one game shy in 2009 of playing in — and likely winning — three national titles in four years. His speech following the loss to Ole Miss in '08 has been immortalized in Gator football lore.
1. Vince Young, QB, Texas
2003-05 (QB #1)
The Texas quarterback was the most unstoppable single force of the BCS era. He earned Rose Bowl MVP honors following his ridiculous performance against Michigan to finish his sophomore season. It was a sign of things to come as he was named Big 12 Player of the Year in 2005. His offense averaged more than 50 points per game, he was a consensus All-American, led the Big 12 in passing efficiency, won the Davey O'Brien, Manning and Maxwell awards while finishing second in the Heisman ballot. His smooth running skills led to an all-time Big 12 career record 6.8 yards per carry. And no one will ever forget his second Rose Bowl MVP performance against USC in the greatest game of the BCS era, returning the national championship to Austin.
Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter
Home Page Infinite Scroll Left
4 days 1 hour ago by Steven Lassan
4 days 16 hours ago by David Smith
4 days 17 hours ago by Athlon Sports
5 days 1 hour ago by Steven Lassan
5 days 19 hours ago by Tom Bowles
6 days 1 hour ago by Steven Lassan
6 days 1 hour ago by Steven Lassan