Nebraska Football: The Cornhuskers' All-Time Dream Team
Who is the Greatest Of All-Time? The GOAT is the quintessential sports debate, one that is guaranteed to start an argument (sometimes friendly, sometimes otherwise) as fans defend their particular heroes.
The Olympic basketball tournament always gives us a chance to think about what a Dream Team for every sport and program would look like. So before we get too deep into the new season and new glories the Children of the Corn hope to see Nebraska achieve, let’s open the history books and see what NU’s Dream Team would look like.
These lists are less about being a definitive answer and more about being a starting point for conversation, so let me know who you think got left off and who should be part of the team.
Quarterback: Tommie Frazier (1992-96)
This one’s not too difficult. Frazier won two national championships, ended his career at 33-3 and a case could be made that Frazier was the best college quarterback in history. His touchdown run against Florida in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl would at least compete with Johnny Rodgers’ return against Oklahoma as Nebraska’s most iconic moment in history.
Backup: Eric Crouch (1997-2001)
Crouch won Nebraska’s third Heisman Trophy, shattered school rushing and total offense records and led Nebraska to a national title game against Miami in 2001.
Running Back: Mike Rozier (1981-83)
Rozier won Nebraska’s second Heisman Trophy and still holds the school record for rushing yards in a career. His 93-yard touchdown run against Kansas State as a sophomore helped propel him to a starter, moving Roger Craig to fullback in 1982.
Backup: Ahman Green (1995-97)
In three seasons, Green rushed for almost 4,000 yards, averaging 6.8 yards per carry and 117.6 yards per game, scoring 42 touchdowns. Green was also instrumental in Nebraska’s 1997 national title.
Fullback: Tom Rathman (1981-85)
Rathman may be the iconic image of Nebraska’s hard-nosed rushing attack in the Tom Osborne era. He ended his career with almost 1,500 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, including runs of 84, 60, and 44 yards in 1985.
Backup: George Sauer (1931-33)
Referred to by one writer as “the premier ball carrier in the nation,” Sauer led Nebraska to a 23-4-1 record. He also played on the defensive line, threw for 701 yards and punted.
Center: Dave Rimington (1980-83)
When they name the trophy for best center in the nation after you, it’s a safe bet you were pretty good. Rimington pioneered the position, being the only player in history to win the Outland Trophy in back-to-back years. Rimington led Nebraska’s offensive line during the Scoring Explosion and was a crucial factor in Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier’s success.
Backup: Dominic Raiola (1998-2000)
Raiola was, ironically enough, Nebraska’s first Rimington Award winner, as well as a finalist for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Trophy.
Guard: Dean Steinkuhler (1980-83)
Steinkuhler won the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Trophy in 1983 and was part of the offensive line that made Nebraska’s scoring explosion possible. He also scored a touchdown against Miami in the Orange Bowl on the famous fumblerooski play.
Backup: Will Shields (1989-92)
You know a position is deep when a legend like Shields is relegated to a backup. Shields was an Outland Trophy winner in 1992 and part of an offensive line that made Nebraska lead the nation in rushing three of his four years.
Guard: Bob Brown (1960-63)
“Boomer” is one of only two Nebraska players with his number permanently retired by the school. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, a distinction shared by only one other Cornhusker.
Brown helped Bob Devaney win his first conference title since 1940. He was also a two-way player, excelling at linebacker.
Backup: Aaron Taylor (1994-97)
Taylor won the 1997 Outland Trophy and was part of an offensive line that won three national championships and amassed a 49-2 record.
Tackle: Ed Weir (1923-25)
Weir is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and was part of the Nebraska team that defeated Notre Dame’s legendary “Four Horsemen” squad. Weir excelled at track as well, and Nebraska’s track facility is named in his honor.
Backup: Zach Wiegert (1991-94)
Wiegert was the Outland Trophy winner in 1994 and was part of the offensive line that earned Tom Osborne his first national title. In his three years as a starter, Nebraska’s quarterback was only sacked once.
Tackle: Bob Newton (1970-71)
Newton was a two-time all-American who helped pave the way for Jeff Kinney’s success, and ultimately to earn Nebraska its first national championship.
Backup: Rob Zatecha (1991-94)
Zatecha was a second-team all conference player as a senior and was part of the offensive line that led the nation in rushing and earned Tom Osborne his first national title.
Tight End: Junior Miller (1977-79)
Miller was a consensus All-American in his senior season and set every Nebraska offensive record for a tight end before graduation. He was the seventh overall pick in the 1979 NFL draft.
Backup: Matt Herian (2002-06)
Although injuries limited his production, Herian ended his Nebraska career holding school records for receptions in a game and total yards receiving for a tight end.
Wide Receiver: Johnny Rodgers (1970-72)
It’s a little hard to figure out where to classify Rodgers, given his versatility and deadly playmaking ability. But there’s no question Nebraska’s first Heisman Trophy winner is part of its Dream Team, with Rodgers still holding school records for yards gained and touchdowns in a season and a career for a wide receiver.
Backup: Nate Swift (2004-08)
Benefiting some from Bill Callahan’s West Coast offense transition, Swift holds Nebraska school records for receptions in a game and in a career.
Wide Receiver: Irving Fryar (1981-83)
Fryar was part of Nebraska’s Scoring Explosion. Fryar ended his Nebraska career as a consensus all-American with 1,196 total yards receiving and 603 yards rushing. Fryar was the first Nebraska player to be selected first overall in the NFL draft.
Backup: Matt Davison (1997-2000)
Admittedly, Davison makes the team more for a moment than for a career. But oh, what a moment.
Defensive End: Grant Wistrom (1994-97)
Wistrom was part of a Blackshirts squad that won three national championships and went 49-2 over his career. He was a finalist for the Nagurski Award, as well as the Big 12 defensive player of the year.
Backup: Broderick Thomas (1985-88)
Yes, I know he’s a linebacker. But Nebraska’s official records include outside linebackers as ends from 1988-95, so I’m using that loophole to get the Sandman on my Dream Team roster.
Defensive End: Kyle Vanden Bosch (1997-2000)
Vanden Bosch was a powerful force at defensive end, winning a number of lifting awards in addition to all-conference consideration. After his career at Nebraska, Vanden Bosch was a second-round pick in the NFL draft.
Backup: Ed Stewart (1991-94)
Same as with Broderick Thomas, Nebraska’s records allow me to use an outside linebacker from this time period, so I’m using that rule to put Eddie Stewart and his 257 career tackles on the Dream Team squad.
Defensive Tackle: Ndamukong Suh (2005-09)
What more can be said about big No. 93, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist in addition to racking up just about every award a defensive tackle can amass during a career? Add in his scoring touchdowns for fun, and you come up with an obvious Dream Team selection.
Backup: Neil Smith (1984-87)
Once again, you learn about the strength of a position when a legend like Neil Smith, an All-American and second overall pick in the NFL draft, is left on the bench.
Defensive Tackle: Rich Glover (1969-72)
Glover won both the Outland and Lombardi Trophies in his senior season and helped lead Nebraska to a national championship. He recorded 22 (!) tackles against Oklahoma in “The Game of the Century” and was listed in the Sports Illustrated all-century team.
Backup: Larry Jacobsen (1968-71)
Jacobsen was Nebraska’s first Outland Trophy award winner, and an integral part of the defense that delivered NU’s first two national championships.
Linebacker: Tom Novak (1946-49)
“Train Wreck” Novak was the first Cornhusker to have his number permanently retired by the school. He was Nebraska’s only four-time all-conference player and still holds the school record for career interceptions by a linebacker. He also excelled at center.
Backup: Carlos Polk (1997-2000)
Polk was an All-American and all-conference player, a semifinalist for the Nagurski Award and led Nebraska in tackles his senior season.
Linebacker: Trev Alberts (1990-93)
Alberts is the only Nebraska linebacker to win a Butkus Award, helping to set the defensive table for Nebraska’s run of three national championships. He was an All-American and All-Conference player and was the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft.
Backup: Barrett Ruud (2001-04)
Ruud, an All-American and All-Conference player, still holds the Nebraska school record for total unassisted tackles.
Linebacker: Jerry Murtaugh (1967-70)
Remember what we just said about Barrett Ruud having Nebraska’s school record for total tackles? It was Murtaugh’s record that Ruud broke. Murtaugh was an All-American and All-Conference player and helped Nebraska win its first national title in his senior season.
Backup: Lavonte David (2010-11)
In only two seasons, junior college transfer David became a dominating force at linebacker, shattering the school record for tackles in a season and single-handedly making two game-saving defensive plays in the 2011 season.
Cornerback: Michael Booker (1994-96)
Booker was an All-Conference player and was the defensive MVP of the 1995 Fiesta Bowl where Nebraska beat Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators for Tom Osborne’s second national championship. He was a first-round NFL draft pick.
Backup: Dana Stephenson (1967-70)
Stephenson is still Nebraska’s all-time leader in interceptions with 14 for his career. He had a three-interception game against then-18th ranked Colorado in 1968 to help Nebraska notch an upset 20-7 win over the Buffaloes
Cornerback: Ralph Brown (1996-99)
Brown holds the school record for most consecutive games started (52) in a career. He also holds the records for most passes broken up in a career, is third in pass breakups for a season and fourth in interceptions for a career.
Backup: Fabian Washington (2002-04)
Washington is tied for fourth in school history for interceptions in a career and is second in school history in passes broken up.
Safety: Mike Brown (1996-99)
Brown was an All-American and All-Conference player who finished his Nebraska career second in total tackles. He is currently seventh overall in school history in unassisted tackles. He was the first defensive back to lead the team in tackles for three consecutive years.
Backup: Josh Bullocks (2001-04)
Bullocks was an All-American and holds Nebraska’s record for interceptions in a season.
Safety: Mike Minter (1992-96)
Minter was a part of the Nebraska defense that won back-to-back national titles in 1994 and 1995. He was an All-Conference player and is tied for eighth in school history with five interceptions in a season. He also is ninth in school history with an 84-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
Backup: Bret Clark (1982-84)
Clark has the third most interceptions in school history with 12, and twice had five interceptions in a season, tying him for eighth in school history for a season.
Punter: Sam Koch (2002-05)
Koch holds Nebraska’s school record for punting average in a season, is third all-time for punting average for a career and has the second-longest punt in school history at 84 (!) yards.
Kicker: Alex Henery (2007-10)
The Skinny Assassin is Nebraska’s career scoring leader and holds the record for the longest field goal in school history. You may have seen it.
In addition to that kick against Colorado, Henery has the sixth-longest kick and tied himself for the seventh-longest field goal in school history. Dude had a leg.
Returner: Johnny Rodgers (1970-72)
Man, woman and child, did that put ‘em in the aisles! Johnny the Jet Rodgers just tore ‘em loose from their shoes!
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