Oklahoma State Football: 10 Greatest Cowboy Players in NFL History
The Oklahoma State Cowboys have one of the most underrated histories in college football. Few people know that they've had many players who have had big success in the NFL.
While they have had many guys in past years do nice things at the next level, most of their NFL exposure has been within the last decade. However, the best of their NFL talent came in the form of running backs Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders in the 1990s.
Here are the top 10 NFL players in Cowboy history.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Charlie Johnson was drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft out of Oklahoma State. Johnson played for the Indianapolis Colts for five seasons before moving to the Minnesota Vikings for one.
Johnson is on this list for one reason: He's a Super Bowl champion. He was the on the line that protected Peyton Manning during the Colts' 2006 Super Bowl run.
After becoming the fifth overall pick of the 1978 NFL draft, Terry Miller rushed for over 1,000 yards in his rookie season with the Buffalo Bills.
Despite his rookie success, Miller never got back to that level and was relegated to mostly kick return duty in his third season.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Brandon Pettigrew is the first Mike Gundy-coached NFL-er to crack this list. The tight end was the first-round choice of the Detroit Lions in the 2009 draft.
He hasn't disappointed. The 6'5" pass-catcher has 184 career receptions for 1,845 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Despite missing his entire last season at Oklahoma State due to NCAA infractions, Dez Bryant was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
Donning the same number as legend Michael Irvin, Bryant has caught 108 passes for 1,489 yards and 15 touchdowns in his two seasons as one of the Dallas' primary receivers.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
A standout at Oklahoma State, R.W. McQuarters played 11 seasons for four different teams. During those seasons, he amassed 403 total tackles, 14 interceptions and three interceptions returned for touchdowns from the cornerback position.
He also accumulated over 2,000 punt return yards and over 1,300 kickoff return yards, along with three touchdown returns. The crowning moment of his career was winning the Super Bowl XLII with the New York Giants over the New England Patriots.
Bob Levey/Getty Images
A fifth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2004 NFL draft, Antonio Smith has had a long and productive career in the NFL.
He's recorded 29.5 sacks from the defensive end position in five seasons with the Cardinals and three with the Houston Texans, including 6.5 for the Texans during the 2011 season.
After being drafted in the fifth round in 1966 by the Dallas Cowboys, Walt Garrison took over starting fullback duties during the 1969 season for Tom Landry's team. Garrison rushed for 3,886 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career.
On a loaded team that included Roger Staubach and Mike Ditka, Garrison earned a ring in Super Bowl VI. He also played in a Super Bowl V loss.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Kevin Williams was the ninth overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft for the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have not regretted that pick.
Williams is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time All-Pro selection. He's recorded 404 tackles, 54.5 sacks and four interceptions during his illustrious career with the Vikings. If all that weren't enough, Williams is also a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade team.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
These last two guys are pure elite.
Thurman Thomas fell to the 40th overall pick in the 1988 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills after a knee injury. That injury didn't last long.
Thomas was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, a five-time All-Pro selection and played in four Super Bowls. He rushed for 12,074 yards and 88 touchdowns. He was also the NFL MVP in 1991 and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1992.
Thomas also headlines the NFL 1990s All-Decade team and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images
After winning the only Heisman Trophy in Oklahoma State football history, Barry Sanders was the third overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft.
Sanders would earn that type of draft pick and his place as Oklahoma State's best NFL player of all time. The third all-time leading rusher in NFL history, Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards and 109 touchdowns in his 10-year career with the Detroit Lions.
Elected to the Pro Bowl and as an All-Pro every single year of his career (10 times), Sanders is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was voted by NFL.com as the Most Elusive Running Back of All Time. He was also the NFL MVP in 1997 and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1994 and 1997.
A four-time rushing champion, Sanders joins his college teammate Thurman Thomas on the NFL 1990s All-Decade team. He retired in July 1999, despite being healthy and having a sure chance at becoming the NFL's all-time leading rusher by a considerable margin.