Power Ranking the 15 Biggest NFL Factories in College Football
The NFL is filled with players from all levels of collegiate competition, but over the years some schools have produced more NFL talent than others.
While it is not uncommon to find a big-time player from a small school, in most instances the top players in the NFL come from the most successful programs.
Even though Notre Dame did not quite make the list, the Fighting Irish have produced more NFL players than any school in the history of college football, and it is not even close.
In recent years other teams have began to emerge, with a good portion of those teams coming from the SEC.
This list is not necessarily the colleges with the most players in the NFL, but a combination of the quantity and quality of the players.
Here are the top 15 NFL factories in college football today.
*Names are according to the ESPN list of players by college for the 2012 season
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Here are eight schools who just missed the list, but have still produced some amazing NFL talent over the past few years.
UCLA Bruins: In 2012, UCLA had 27 players in the NFL, including star running Maurice Jones-Drew.
Maryland Terrapins: Vernon Davis leads the way of talented Terps in the league right now. In 2012, there were 26 former Maryland players in the NFL.
North Carolina Tar Heels: North Carolina does not have the sheer number of players with only 21 in the NFL, but there are some big names in the bunch, including Julius Peppers and Hakeem Nicks.
Nebraska Cornhuskers: Nebraska had 30 NFL players during the 2012 season, including Carl Nicks and Ndamukong Suh.
Auburn Tigers: 28 Tigers were in the NFL in 2012. Leading the way out of that group was Carlos Rogers and Cam Newton.
Purdue Boilermakers: There are 23 Boilermakers in the NFL and without question, the biggest name on the list is Drew Brees.
South Carolina Gamecocks: Steve Spurrier is no stranger to producing talent as there are currently 27 former Gamecocks in the league, including Johnathan Joseph and Sidney Rice.
Florida State Seminoles: 32 players in the NFL is not to shabby. Former Seminoles include Sebastian Janikowski, Anquan Boldin and Antonio Cromartie.
No. 15 Penn State Nittany Lions
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Joe Paterno produced some amazing talent during his time in Happy Valley.
Even though the Nittany Lions tailed off slightly during the end of his tenure, in 2012 the university was still tied for No. 10 with 33 NFL players.
While there are not a ton of big name Nittany Lions in the NFL right now, during the better part of the '90s, it was known as 'Linebacker U'.
Among the most well-known Nittany Lions in the NFL right now are Cameron Wake, NaVorro Bowman, Tamba Ali and Paul Posluszny.
Look for the names to continue to filter into the NFL with Bill O'Brien doing so well in his first season as head coach.
No. 14 Iowa Hawkeyes
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Iowa is one of a few Big Ten universities on the list that have been known to produce talented offensive linemen.
The Hawkeyes had 35 players in the NFL in 2012, good for seventh overall.
While there are not many All-Pro level players anymore, there are some solid contributors to excellent NFL teams.
The most recognizable names are probably Dallas Clark and Shonn Greene, but those who have had the most success in recent years include Chad Greenway, Marshall Yanda and Bryan Bulaga.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz has done an excellent job helping to get his players to the next level.
No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide
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Alabama might be much higher on the list a few years from now with all the young talent coming into the NFL, but for now the Crimson Tide are outside the top ten.
In 2012, Alabama was tied for tenth with 33 players in the NFL.
There were not many players who had All-Pro talent, but some young players who appear ready to emerge.
Some of the top players include Andre Smith, Trent Richardson, Evan Mathis, Julio Jones and DeMeco Ryans.
Look for head coach Nick Saban to have the Crimson Tide near the top of the list five years from now.
No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners
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Oklahoma does not have as many players in the NFL as the other teams in the top 15, with only 26, but the Sooners have produced some of the best players in the league over the past decade.
At the top of of the list is without question Adrian Peterson. While he is undoubtedly the best of the former Sooners, there are also some other talented players including Jermaine Gresham, Sam Bradford, Jammal Brown, Curtis Lofton, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Broyles.
Head coach Bob Stoops has not had any shortage of talent during his time at Oklahoma.
Look for that to continue for years to come.
No. 11 Michigan Wolverines
There are currently 28 Wolverines in the NFL, and expect that number to keep rising with new head coach Brady Hoke turning the program back around.
The most recognizable name hailing from Michigan is without question Tom Brady.
While Brady stands out above everybody else, there are also some other talented players who have emerged from Ann Arbor in recent memory. Among the biggest names on the list are Jay Feely, Leon Hall, Jake Long, Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley.
Like Iowa and Wisconsin, Michigan is no stranger to producing talented offensive linemen as well.
No. 10 Florida Gators
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Florida does not even crack the top 10 when it comes to sheer number of NFL players, but the Gators have given the NFL some explosive players.
Of the 32 Gators players in the NFL, a lot of the names are very easily recognizable.
The most talented of the bunch include the likes of Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap, Percy Harvin, Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Hernandez.
Former head coach Urban Meyer can be credited with producing a lot of these players, but new head coach Will Muschamp will likely continue the tradition.
No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers
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Wisconsin not only produces offensive linemen, but defensive linemen as well. Perhaps the best defensive player in the league, J.J. Watt hails from Wisconsin.
The Badgers have 27 players currently in the NFL, and while Watt is at the top of the list, a close second is Joe Thomas. Among the other names include Russell Wilson, Kevin Zeitler and Owen Daniels.
Things might change a little with a new head coach, but something tells me linemen will continue to be produced by the Badgers.
Producing somebody with the talent level of a Watt or Thomas will not be something easy to duplicate, however.
No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers
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The man who allows Tennessee to crack the top 10 on the list is former Vols quarterback Peyton Manning.
Tennessee currently has 33 players in the NFL, leaving them tied for 10th.
The good news for the Vols is Manning is not the only player they have produced. Among the other names are Jerod Mayo, Eric Berry and Jason Witten.
One position the Vols seems to excel in is wide receiver. They have produced plenty of players in recent memory including Donte' Stallworth, Robert Meachem and Denarius Moore.
The 2013 draft should produce three more wide receivers for Tennessee.
No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes
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Ohio State has more players in the NFL than all but four schools, and with 43 players in the league, the Buckeyes come in at No. 7 on the list.
Part of the reason Ohio State is farther down the list than some would have anticipated is because a lot of the talent is too old and some has not developed yet.
With that being said, the Buckeyes have produced some talented cornerbacks in the past 15 years, including Antoine Winfield, Nate Clements, Chris Gamble and Chimidi Chekwa.
There have been other talented players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, including linebackers James Laurinaitis and A.J. Hawk.
Offensive linemen have also been a strength for the Buckeyes.
No. 6 Texas Longhorns
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The Longhorns are third with 44 players in the NFL, and they have produced talent at practically every position all over the field.
Leading the way is running back Jamaal Charles. Other talented players include Leonard Pope, Jermichael Finley, Phil Dawson, Michael Huff, Earl Thomas, Henry Melton and Colt McCoy.
Head coach Mack Brown and his squad might not always live up to expectations at the collegiate level, but when it comes to producing NFL talent, few coaches in college football have had quite the success of Brown.
No matter what position, Brown and his Longhorns have it covered at the NFL level.
No. 5 California Golden Bears
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When it comes to top-level NFL talent, few college teams in the country have matched what the Cal Bears have produced at the NFL level.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers is the most prevalent of all the names, but there are other excellent players including Marshawn Lynch, Tony Gonzalez, Nnamdi Asomugha, Alex Mack and DeSean Jackson.
In all, there are 30 Golden Bears in the NFL, which is not as high as a lot of other teams, but with the amount of Pro Bowl caliber players, they crack the top five.
Some other recognizable former Bears in the NFL include running backs Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen.
One has to wonder how California has never had the success some other teams have with much less talent.
No. 4 USC Trojans
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USC ranked second in the country with 48 former players on NFL rosters in 2012. While many might think the Trojans would have mostly skill players in the NFL, that is not necessarily the case.
One position where USC has produced a ton of talent is linebacker. Leading the way are Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Keith Rivers, Nick Perry and Ray Maualuga.
There has been some offensive players as well, including Reggie Bush, Matt Kalil, Ryan Kalil, Steve Smith, Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer and Fred Davis.
Maybe the biggest name of them all is Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. He has been one of the best in the league at his position over the past decade.
No. 3 LSU Tigers
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LSU is tied with Texas for third overall with 44 current NFL players.
There are some prominent players hailing from Baton Rouge. The Tigers have produced some talented defensive backs in recent years, including Patrick Petersen, Morris Claiborne, Corey Webster, LaRon Landry and Ryan Clark.
Another position that has been very productive for LSU is wide receiver. Some of the names include Dwayne Bowe, Early Doucet and Devery Henderson.
Other well known Tigers in the NFL include Andrew Whitworth, Matt Flynn, Jacob Hester and Glenn Dorsey.
One thing is certain, Les Miles is never on a shortage of talent.
No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs
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The Georgia Bulldogs only rank fifth with 40 NFL players, but with the exception of possibly California, they have more top-level players than any university.
There are plenty of All-Pro players from Georgia, with the best of the bunch being Geno Atkins and A.J. Green.
One of the best cornerbacks of all-time in Champ Bailey is also from Georgia as is Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
While Richard Seymour may not be what he once was, he has been a very productive player during a long NFL career and also hails from Georgia.
Mark Richt has spent the past 12 seasons in Athens, and during that time he has had no problem giving the NFL some very talented players.
No. 1 Miami Hurricanes
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What may come as a surprise to some is the team at the top of the list.
The Miami Hurricanes could have likely claimed the top spot each of the last 15 years, and even though there has been a drop-off as far as their record is concerned, the Hurricanes are still better at producing NFL talent than any university in the country.
With 53 players in the NFL during the 2012 season, Miami had more players than any other school, topping USC by five.
Some of the best players in the league hail from Miami, including Andre Johnson, Ed Reed, Frank Gore, Jimmy Graham, Reggie Wayne, Vince Wilfork, D.J. Williams and of course the newly retired Ray Lewis.
There are just too many talented players to even try to list.
Miami has produced talent all over the field, and when it comes to NFL players, no team in the country is even close to the Hurricanes.