College Football Power Rankings: The 50 Best Players of the 2000's

Joey HnathCorrespondent IFebruary 11, 2011

College Football Power Rankings: The 50 Best Players of the 2000's

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    The 2000's were a great decade for college football.  Some of the greatest players in the history of the sport helped shape and define this era.

    With the BCS creating more debate and controversy than ever before, college football became an even bigger spectacle as well.

    Here are the 50 best players of the 2000's.

50. Toby Gerhart

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    The Stanford running back had an incredible 2009 season.

    Finishing second in the Heisman voting, Gerhart ran for 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns while helping Stanford become nationally relevant again.

49. Mike Hart

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    Hart was the workhorse of the Michigan offense from 2004-2007.

    His best year came in 2006.  Aside from leading Michigan to an 11-0 record to start the season, Hart ran for 1,562 yards while finishing fifth in the Heisman voting.

48. Glenn Dorsey

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    Dorsey was a dominant force for the Tigers in the mid-2000's, leading them to the National Championship in his final season.

    In his senior season, Dorsey became the first player to ever win the Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy, Nagurski Trophy and the Lott Trophy.

47. A.J. Hawk

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    Hawk was a key member of the Ohio State defense from 2002-2005.

    He capped off his senior season by winning the Lombardi Trophy in 2005.

46. Pat White

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    During his career in Morgantown, White led the Mountaineers to two BCS bowl victories.

    White finished in the top 10 of the Heisman voting his junior and senior seasons.

45. Sean Taylor

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    One of the hardest hitting safeties to ever play, Taylor was one of four freshmen to play for the 2001 National Champion Hurricanes, one of the greatest teams in college football history.

    In his junior season, Taylor was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Thorpe Award.

44. Josh Heupel

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    Despite finishing second to Chris Weinke in the 2000 Heisman trophy voting, Heupel got the best of him in the Orange Bowl, capturing the National Championship for the Sooners.

    In that 2000 season, Heupel won the Walter Camp Award and was named AP Player of the Year.

43. Ian Johnson

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    Johnson helped put Boise State on the college football map after scoring the game-winning two-point conversion against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

    What Johnson lacked in physical ability, he made up for with heart.

42. James Laurinaitis

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    Laurinaitis, a three-time All-American, is one of the greatest Ohio State linebackers in their rich history.

    He helped lead the Buckeyes to three outright Big Ten championships during his four years in Columbus, and he is the only player to win two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year awards.

41. Ken Dorsey

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    A two-time Heisman trophy finalist, Dorsey was the leader of the Miami offense during the early-2000's.

    He finished with a record of 38-2 and was the co-MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl, where the Hurricanes won the National Championship.

40. Kellen Winslow Jr.

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    Just like Sean Taylor, Winslow was one of four freshmen to play on the 2001 Miami Hurricanes.

    In his two other seasons with Miami, Winslow won the Mackey Award and was a two-time first team All-American.

39. Cedric Benson

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    Benson finished his career with 5,540 yards rushing, which is good for sixth on the all-time list.

    A four-year starter at Texas, Benson won the Doak Walker Award his senior season in 2004.

38. Alex Smith

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    Smith led the Utes to the first BCS berth for a non-BCS school.  Utah would beat Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl to cap a perfect season.

    After being named a Heisman finalist in 2005, Smith was taken number one overall in the 2005 NFL Draft.

37. Terrell Suggs

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    Suggs won the Lombardi Award and the Nagurski Trophy in his junior season of 2002.

    He also holds the NCAA record for most sacks in a season with 24.

36. Brady Quinn

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    Quinn is one of the best quarterbacks in Notre Dame history, holding 36 Fighting Irish records.

    He was also a Heisman finalist twice, and helped the Irish reach two BCS bowl games.

35. Michael Huff

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    Huff was the leader of the defense for the Longhorns during their 2005 title run.

    He won the Thorpe award that season, and also came up with a big stop of LenDale White on fourth down, which would set up Texas' game-winning touchdown.

34. Jason White

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    White is one of the most decorated players in Oklahoma history.

    He won the 2003 Heisman Trophy, and finished third in 2004.  He also led the Sooners to two berths in BCS championship games.

33. Larry Johnson

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    Johnson's best season came in his senior year in 2002.  He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting after running for over 2,000 yards.

    His 7.8 yards per carry average in 2002 is the second-best average of all time.

32. Colt Brennan

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    Brennan holds 30 NCAA FBS records, including the most touchdowns in a single season with 58.

    Aside from individual accolades, Brennan helped lead the Warriors to an undefeated regular season in 2007 and a Sugar Bowl berth.

31. Carlos Rogers

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    Rogers was the leader of the 2004 Auburn Tigers defense that finished the season a perfect 13-0.

    During his senior season of 2004, he won the Thorpe Award and was a finalist for the Nagurski Award.

30. Calvin Johnson

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    Johnson is one of the most physically gifted players to ever play college football.

    He won the 2006 Biletnikoff Award and finished 10th in the Heisman voting.  His career would have been even more impressive had he more talent surrounding him.

29. Chris Weinke

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    Weinke helped lead the Seminoles to a victory in the 2000 Sugar Bowl, which gave them the national title.  The following season, he won the Heisman Trophy and helped earn the Seminoles another appearance in a national championship game.

    Weinke had a career 32-3 record at Florida State and has his number 16 retired.

28. Robert Gallery

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    The Iowa Hawkeyes had some of the best offensive linemen in the 2000's, and Robert Gallery was perhaps the best of them.

    After switching from tight end, Gallery became an All-American left tackle and won the 2003 Outland Trophy.

27. Braylon Edwards

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    While in Ann Arbor, Edwards rewrote the Michigan and Big Ten record books, and caught 39 career receiving touchdowns.

    Edwards won the Biletnikoff Award in his senior season in 2004, while also being named a consensus All-American.

26. Paul Posluszny

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    Posluszny was the best linebacker of the decade at Linebacker U.

    While being named a two-time first team All-American, as well as being a two-time winner of the Bednarik Award, Posluszny helped lead the Nittany Lions to their first BCS bowl victory in 10 years during his junior season of 2005.

25. Joe Thomas

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    Thomas was the best Wisconsin Badger of the decade.

    He was a two-time All-American and won the Outland Trophy in 2006 before being drafted third overall by the Cleveland Browns.

24. Ed Reed

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    Reed did it all for the Canes.  He holds the school record for interceptions, interception yards and interceptions returned for a touchdown in a career.

    A two-time consensus All-American, he led the nation in interceptions with nine in Miami's National Championship season of 2001.

23. Colt McCoy

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    After becoming the Texas starter the year after its national championship, McCoy continued the momentum from the Longhorns' 2005 season.

    During his four years at Texas, McCoy set many NCAA records, including most wins in a career with 45.  He also was a Heisman finalist his junior and senior seasons.

22. Sam Bradford

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    Despite only starting two full seasons for the Sooners, Bradford holds many of the school's records.

    In his sophomore season, Bradford won the Heisman trophy, throwing for 4,721 yards and 50 touchdowns, and led Oklahoma to a berth in the BCS National Championship Game.

21. Jake Long

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    Jake Long was the anchor of the Michigan during his four years in Ann Arbor.

    He was a two-time All-American, and was a unanimous selection in 2007.  After winning the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award for the second consecutive year, Long was taken number one overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2008 NFL Draft.

20. Dan Morgan

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    While in Miami, Morgan helped lead the Hurricanes' resurgence under Coach Butch Davis.

    In the 2000 season, Morgan won the Butkus Award, Nagurski Trophy and the Bednarik Award, as well as being named a consensus All-American.

19. Carson Palmer

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    Despite a rocky start to his career in Los Angeles, Palmer ended his Trojan career on a high note, including finishing as the Pac-10's all-time leader in passing yards.

    In his senior season of 2002, Palmer won the Heisman Trophy while leading the Trojans to an Orange Bowl victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes.

18. Julius Peppers

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    Peppers is one of the best athletes of the decade, playing for the Tar Heels' football and basketball teams.

    A consensus All-American his senior season, Peppers also won the Bednarik and Lombardi awards in 2001 before being drafted second overall by the Carolina Panthers.

17. LaDainian Tomlinson

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    Before his Hall of Fame NFL career, Tomlinson was a standout running back for the TCU Horned Frogs.

    In his senior season of 2000, Tomlinson broke the NCAA record for most rushing yards in a game with 406 yards.  This helped Tomlinson win the Doak Walker award and finish fourth in the Heisman voting.

16. Mark Ingram

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    Ingram's hard running style helped Alabama rejoin the nation's elite.

    In 2009, Ingram became the first Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy, setting a school record for rushing yards in a season while helping the Tide win the 2009 National Championship.

15. Michael Crabtree

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    Crabtree was the best player to play in Texas Tech's spread offense in the 2000's.

    While winning the Biletnikoff Award in both 2007 and 2008, Crabtree is best remembered for his last-second touchdown against the top-ranked Texas Longhorns in 2008.

14. Matt Leinart

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    All Leinart did during his time at USC was win, finishing his career with a 37-2 record.

    Leinart won the Heisman trophy during USC's undefeated national championship season of 2004.

13. Eric Crouch

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    Crouch was the prototypical option quarterback, holding the record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 59.

    In 2001, Crouch won the Heisman trophy while leading Nebraska to a berth in the 2001 Rose Bowl to play for a national championship.

12. Tommie Harris

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    Harris was the best defensive player of the decade for the Sooners, who had many great players on that side of the ball.

    He won the 2003 Lombardi Trophy and was a two-time All-American.

11. Bryant McKinnie

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    The best offensive lineman of the decade, McKinnie helped the Hurricanes to the 2001 National Championship.

    McKinnie won the Outland trophy in 2001 and finished eighth in the Heisman voting.

10. David Pollack

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    Next to Herschel Walker, David Pollack is the greatest player in the history of Georgia football.

    Pollack was a three-time All-American, and in his senior season in 2004, he won the Lombardi Award and the Bednarik Award.

9. Michael Vick

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    While at Virginia Tech, Vick helped revolutionize the quarterback position.

    In 2000, Vick finished sixth in the Heisman voting, and was subsequently taken number one overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft.

8. Ndamukong Suh

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    Suh was one of the most dominating defensive tackles to ever play college football. 

    His dominance was on display in the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game when he recorded 4.5 sacks against the Texas Longhorns.

    Among his many accolades from the 2009 season include the AP Player of the Year, the first time a defensive player has ever won the award.

7. Darren McFadden

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    McFadden was the Arkansas offense while he was at school, being named a consensus All-American in 2006 and 2007.

    He also finished as the Heisman runner-up in both 2006 and 2007 as well, coming up just 200 points shy of winning it in 2007.

6. Larry Fitzgerald

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    Fitzgerald was by far the best receiver of the decade.

    Finishing second in the Heisman voting in 2003, Fitzgerald holds the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a touchdown reception.

5. Adrian Peterson

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    In 2004, Peterson put together the best season of any freshman running back in the history of college football.

    Peterson ran for 1,925 yards while leading the nation in carries with 339 carries.

    That season, Peterson finished second in the Heisman voting, the highest finish ever for a freshman.

4. Troy Smith

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    Troy Smith is the most successful quarterback in Ohio State history.

    In his career, Smith played in 44 games and only threw 13 interceptions.

    He won the 2006 Heisman by one of the most lopsided totals in the history of the award.

3. Reggie Bush

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    Reggie Bush is no doubt the most electrifying player of the decade.

    Though the award was later vacated, Bush won the 2005 Heisman Trophy in a landslide.

    Bush's most memorable game came against Fresno State in 2005, when he set the Pac-10 record for most yards from scrimmage in a game with 513 yards, while also scoring one of the most memorable touchdown runs in college football history.

2. Vince Young

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    Even though he finished second to Bush in the 2005 Heisman voting, Young gets the nod on this list for his performance in the 2006 Rose Bowl Game.

    In possibly the greatest game in college football history, Young rallied the Longhorns back from an 11-point deficit to claim the 2005 National Championship.

    Young accounted for 467 total yards of offense in that game, cementing his spot as one of the greats in college football history.

1. Tim Tebow

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    Not only is Tebow the greatest college football player of the decade, but he is quite possibly the best college football player ever.

    A two-time national champion and first-team All-American, Tebow became a legend in Gainesville both on and off the field.

    The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner holds many NCAA, conference, and school records, including the SEC record for most rushing touchdowns in a career with 57 touchdowns.

    Tim Tebow is now the standard of success for which all other college quarterbacks are measured against.