The 50 Greatest College Football Players of All Time

David LutherFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2011

The 50 Greatest College Football Players of All Time

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    Listing the 50 greatest college football players in history sounds simple enough, but with over 125 years of history to sift through, the task quickly becomes quite daunting.

    There are a great many players that take the field every season, and a few of them become legends. But of those legends, which special few are worthy of greater recognition?

    Who is the best of the best? Who is deserving of recognition as one of the greatest of all time?

    Here's our list of the 50 greatest college football players of all time.

50. George Gipp, Notre Dame

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    Despite Gipp enrolling at Notre Dame with absolutely no football experience (he was a baseball player), Knute Rockne convinced him to join the Irish football team.

    In his final three seasons with the Irish, he led the team in both passing and rushing (1918-1920). Gipp was more than the team's quarterback; he was also the punter, kick returner and linebacker/cornerback—among several other positions.

    Perhaps Gipp is remembered most for his death at age 25 due to strep throat.

    His memory is immortalized in the famous pregame pep talk given by Rockne to the Irish before their 1928 upset win over Army:

    “I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Sometime, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy.”

49. Desmond Howard, Michigan

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    Desmond Howard may be best known today as the co-host of ESPN's College GameDay, but a couple of decades ago, he was known for smashing records at the University of Michigan.

    During his time at U-M, Howard tied or broke 12 U-M records and five NCAA records.

    He won the 1991 Heisman Trophy by the largest margin ever at the time, earning a first-place vote on 17 of every 20 ballots cast.

    He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.

    Howard is also famous for the now-ubiquitous on-field Heisman pose. This moment ranks near the top in the annals of televised college football when accompanied by Keith Jackson's call of “Hello, Heisman!”

48. Jerry Rice, Mississippi Valley State

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    It still seems a little shocking that Jerry Rice slipped under the radar of the top football programs in the nation, but Rice didn't let that stop him.

    Attending college at Mississippi Valley State, Rice broke NCAA Division I-AA records in single-game receptions, season receptions, season receiving yards and season receiving touchdowns. His receiving touchdowns mark also set an NCAA all-division record.

    Rice was a consensus Division I-AA All-American 1983, and in 1984, despite playing at a Division I-AA college, he finished ninth in Heisman voting and was named an AP All-American.

47. Eric Dickerson, Southern Methodist

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    Eric Dickerson was originally committed to playing football at Texas A&M, but his grandmother took a liking to SMU head coach Ron Meyer, and Dickerson changed his commitment.

    Along with Craig James, Dickerson was part of the famed “Pony Express” rushing attack at SMU. Dickerson eventually broke the Southwest Conference record for rushing yards with 4,450. He also tied legendary running back Doak Walker's SMU touchdown mark at 48.

    In his senior season, Dickerson finished third in Heisman voting.

    Unfortunately, Dickerson may most be remembered for being involved in the early stages of what eventually became the SMU recruiting scandal that led to the NCAA's “death penalty” for the Mustangs.

46. Lawrence Taylor, North Carolina

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    After a stellar career at North Carolina from 1978 to 1981, Taylor was eventually selected as the second overall draft pick in the 1981 NFL draft.

    Taylor became defensive team captain for the Tar Heels and tallied 16 sacks in his final season (1980) in Chapel Hill. He was also a consensus All-American and ACC Player of the Year in 1980.

    His number 98 has been retired by UNC.

45. Anthony Carter, Michigan

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    During the Bo Schembechler years at Michigan, the Wolverines were known for their prototypical Big Ten offensive attack: a big, strong running game that ate up the clock before putting points on the board.

    Anthony Carter gave Michigan a big-play option in the passing game should the ground game sputter.

    By the time Carter left Ann Arbor in 1982, he had amassed 37 touchdown receptions.

44. Mike Singletary, Baylor

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    When anyone thinks of some of the all-time great linebackers to play football, Mike Singletary has to be one name that pops into your mind.

    Singletary is not only a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame but a member of the College Hall as well.

    Singletary is a two-time winner of the Davey O'Brien Memorial Trophy and still holds numerous school records at Baylor, including a eye-popping single-season mark of 232 tackles as a senior in 1978—the first time Baylor had ever won 10 games in a season.

43. Johnny Lujack, Notre Dame

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    One of the greatest football athletes of the first half of the 20th century, Lujack led Notre Dame to national championships in back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1946 and 1947.

    Like many other Notre Dame icons, Lujack excelled at a number of positions, including running back, safety and punter.

    Lujack also captured the 1947 Heisman Trophy.

42. Charlie Ward, Florida State

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    In 1993, Charlie Ward quarterbacked the Seminoles to a 12-1 record and Florida State's first national championship.

    That year, Ward eclipsed Desmond Howard on the list of biggest Heisman voting margin of victory. Depending on the metric used (percentage of first-place votes or vote points), Ward's Heisman victory was the largest or second-largest (to O.J. Simpson) in history.

    Ward opted for an NBA career, but this College Football Hall of Famer still ranks as one of the top 50 college gridiron players of all time.

41. Anthony Munoz, USC

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    Anthony Munoz missed a large portion of his senior season, but that doesn't stop this monster of a offensive lineman from making our top 50 list.

    This powerful yet agile blocker was able to keep both defensive ends and tackles from the Trojan backfield.

    In addition to his exploits on the football field, Munoz was a pitcher for USC's 1978 national champion baseball team.

40. Derrick Thomas, Alabama

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    Derrick Thomas was easily one of the most dominant linebackers of the 1980s.

    In 1988, Thomas managed an unheard-of 27 sacks, and he finished his career at Alabama with 52.

    Thomas went on to a successful NFL career before his life was tragically cut short after a car accident at age 33.

39. Bubba Smith, Michigan State

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    Bubba Smith was a highly sought-after recruit at defensive end, and his dream was to play for the Texas Longhorns.

    The problem was Smith was black, and the Southwest Conference didn't allow black players.

    So Bubba decided on Michigan State, and he helped the Spartans capture a national championship in 1965. It wasn't long after that the SWC began to see the stupidity of its policy.

    After a decade in the NFL, Bubba Smith entertained a new generation as Moses Hightower in the Police Academy movies. Considering he couldn't play in the SWC in college, it's interesting to note in the first Police Academy movie, Hightower is kicked out of the academy—briefly—after he flips a car over (by hand) when someone uses a pejorative about a fellow cadet's skin color.

    Bubba Smith passed away in August of 2011 of natural causes.

38. Warren Sapp, Miami (FL)

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    Looking back on all the great players to suit up for Miami over the decades, Warren Sapp is easily one of the best.

    Sapp was a two-time All-American, and in 1994 he was named the Defensive Player of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America. He also won the Lombardi Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Bill Willis Award that same season.

37. Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh

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    The 21st century isn't very old yet, but we've already seen some great players emerge since 2000.

    One of the very best is Larry Fitzgerald.

    Fitzgerald won the Walter Camp Award, Biletnikoff Award and the Paul Warfield Award, all as a sophomore for Pittsburgh. That season Fitzgerald had 92 receptions for 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns.

    His numbers rank him as the top receiver in Pittsburgh Panthers history.

36. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

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    Ndamukong Suh was one of the most dominating defensive linemen in recent memory and was even considered a Heisman candidate late into the 2009 season with Nebraska.

    Suh finished fourth in Heisman voting that year—the highest DL finish since 1972. Since the award was created in 1998, Suh was the first defensive player ever to win the AP's College Player of the Year award.

    Suh has gone on to fame as a defensive terror for the Detroit Lions.

35. Jim Brown, Syracuse

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    Jim Brown isn't just one of the best college football players of all time—he's one of the greatest athletes of all time.

    In 1956, Brown rushed for 986 yards and 14 touchdowns—in eight games. In the '56 season finale, Brown rushed for six touchdowns and kicked seven extra points as the Orangemen's placekicker.

    In addition to being a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, Brown is also a member of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. In addition to football and lacrosse, Brown was also a member of Syracuse's basketball and track teams.

34. Steve McNair, Alcorn State

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    After high school, Steve McNair received several scholarship offers, including from Florida, but the Gators wanted him to play defensive back.

    McNair insisted on playing quarterback and chose Division I-AA Alcorn State.

    In his 1994 senior season, McNair shattered NCAA all-division records, as he amassed nearly 6,000 yards in total offense, including 53 combined touchdowns.

    McNair was awarded the Walter Payton Award (top Division I-AA player) and finished third in Heisman Trophy voting.

    He still holds Division I-AA/FCS records for career passing yards (14,496) and total offense (16,283).

33. Mike Reid, Penn State

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    Over the years, the great Penn State teams have been known for their suffocating defenses.

    A major factor in the great Nittany Lions teams of the late 1960s was Mike Reid, a defensive tackle for PSU.

    This consensus All-American won the Outland Trophy and Maxwell Award for his senior season and finished fifth in Heisman voting that year (1969).

32. Tom Harmon, Michigan

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    Of all the college football programs in the country, there is arguably no program with more history than Michigan.

    To be one of the best in Michigan history is to be one of the best in the history of the college game, and Tom Harmon certainly fits the bill.

    Harmon lead the nation in rushing in both 1939 and 1940, and his performance in 1940 is still considered one of the greatest seasons by a running back of all time.

    Over the course of the 1940 season, Harmon accounted for nearly 3,500 yards of offense—a crazy-big number for the era—which included passing, rushing, receiving and kick returning. Harmon was also the team's kicker and a starting defensive back.

    Harmon easily won the Heisman Trophy in 1940.

31. Ronnie Lott, USC

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    USC has certainly had more than its fair share of great players, not the least of which was Ronnie Lott.

    Lott was a member of the 1978 USC national championship team, and the Trojans played in two Rose Bowls with Lott anchoring the defensive backfield.

    Lott was a consensus All-American in 1980 and went on to a great pro career not far from his old college stomping grounds with the San Francisco 49ers.

30. John Hannah, Alabama

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    John Hannah appears on pretty much every list of top college football players ever assembled.

    As an offensive lineman under legendary Bear Bryant at Alabama, this two-time All-American was easily the best O-lineman ever to put on the Crimson Tide uniform and is one of the best to play at the position in the history of the college game.

    In fact, Bryant called Hannah the best lineman he ever coached. Hannah, a two-time All-American, is a member of both the college and pro football halls of fame.

29. Billy Sims, Oklahoma

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    Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer spend a lot of effort recruiting Billy Sims, but after the first two injury-laden years for Sims at OU, it looked as if Sims might be one of those highly touted recruits that never managed to pan out.

    Wrong.

    In his junior and senior seasons for the Sooners, Sims absolutely exploded with the promised talent, as promised, and as a junior in 1978, Sims captured the Heisman Trophy with 1,762 yards on just 231 carries—an amazing 7.6 yards per carry. With another 134 yards in the Sooners' bowl game that season, Sims finished with 1,896 yards—a record at Oklahoma that stood until 2004.

    Sims finished second in Heisman voting during his senior season in 1979.

28. O.J. Simpson, USC

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    Putting O.J. Simpson on any list of “greatest” that doesn't end in “examples of getting away with murder” is usually taboo.

    But double murder acquittals and armed robbery convictions aside, Simpson had a stellar career at USC. Playing just two seasons, the Juice rushed for 3,423 yards, which still places Simpson fifth on the all-time USC rushing list.

    After USC, O.J. had a Hall of Fame career in the NFL before moving into the broadcasting booth. He also had small roles in low-budget movies, most famously the Naked Gun series.

27. Charley Trippi, Georgia

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    Charley Trippi was one of the greatest Georgia Bulldogs of the 20th century, even with an interrupted career at UGA.

    Trippi was named the MVP of the 1943 Rose Bowl, where he led the national champion Bulldogs to a 9-0 victory over UCLA.

    Trippi left UGA after the 1942 season to fight in World War II but later returned to play two more seasons in 1945 and 1946.

26. Marcus Allen, USC

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    Prior to 1981, the 2,000-yard threshold for running backs had never been reached.

    Marcus Allen not only reached the 2,000-yard plateau, he ran right past it.

    Allen was the first player to finish with 2,000 or more yards in a single season when he finished 1981 with an obscene 2,427 rushing yards.

    His reward for a record-setting season that included 16 NCAA marks was a well-deserved Heisman Trophy.

25. Ernie Nevers, Stanford

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    Today, college football players have the benefit of instant care from trainers and countless medical tests and only return to the field once they've been medically cleared to play.

    Compare that to Ernie Nevers, who played in the 1925 Rose Bowl against arch-rival Notre Dame on two broken ankles.

    Sitting out for a couple of weeks with turf toe doesn't seem so tough now, does it? Add in the fact that Nevers rushed for 114 yards on his two broken ankles, and the feat is even more impressive.

    It's just too bad the Indians lost to the Irish.

    In addition to being an All-American at Stanford, Nevers was a member of the track team and the baseball team. After graduating, Nevers played both football and baseball professionally.

24. Davey O'Brien, Texas Christian

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    In the long history of TCU football, there has been only one Heisman winner. Davey O'Brien, the legendary quarterback who is immortalized in the Davey O'Brien Award today, won the 1938 Heisman Trophy with a then-record performance of 1,457 passing yards and 19 touchdowns.

    While that may not sound like much by today's standards, in the era of the 1930s, when the forward pass was just starting to become a go-to play, O'Brien's numbers were downright impressive—so much so that he became the first college football player to win the Heisman, Maxwell and Walter Camp awards in the same season.

23. Charles Woodson, Michigan

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    If ever there was a team that could thank one player for its national championship, the 1997 Michigan Wolverines can thank Charles Woodson.

    When Woodson wasn't intercepting passes as a ball-hawking corner, he was scoring touchdowns as a wide receiver or return specialist.

    Woodson was so good that he became the first—and to date, only—primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.

    While there have been many great defensive players over the years, the seeming offensive bias of the award voters make it possible that Woodson's feat of winning the Heisman Trophy from the defensive side of the ball may never be repeated.

22. Ron Dayne, Wisconsin

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    When Ron Dayne finished his career at Wisconsin, he had rewritten the NCAA Division I-A record books.

    He left Madison having accounted for 6,397 rushing yards—more than any other Division I-A/FBS player.

    As hard as it may be to believe, those numbers do not include his bowl game stats either. In addition to his 6,397 rushing yards in the regular season, Dayne added another 692 yards in three bowl games during his four years as a Badger, bringing his total to a whopping 7,089 yards.

21. Deion Sanders, Florida State

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    When you think of iconic cornerbacks, Florida State's Deion Sanders has to be one of the first names to pop into your brain.

    During his sophomore and junior seasons, Sanders was a first-team All-American and earned the name “Prime Time.”

    Quarterbacks soon learned not to throw the ball to Sanders' side of the field, and Deion soon found other ways to contribute, particularly in returning kicks.

    Sanders was also a member of FSU's baseball and track teams and even played Major League Baseball in addition to his NFL career.

20. Bronko Nagurski, Minnesota

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    There are few names at Minnesota that can compare to Bronko Nagurski.

    After beginning his career at tackle, he was moved to fullback for the 1928 season. His 230-pound frame was absolutely massive by 1920s standards, and he was able to simply run right over most opposition.

    Just how good was Nagurski? He was named an All-American at two positions—tackle and fullback.

19. Ernie Davis, Syracuse

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    Ernie Davis was more than a great running back at Syracuse. Davis became the first black player ever to win the Heisman Trophy when he captured the award in 1961.

    Prior to that, Davis endured a difficult personal journey, encountering the worst the South had to offer in terms of racism as he led the Orangemen to the 1959 national championship and Cotton Bowl victory over Texas—a game in which Davis was named MVP.

    While it may not rank up there with such football movies as Rudy, 2008's The Express is a inspirational movie about Davis' journey and his battle against segregationists and outright racism during his time at Syracuse.

    Sadly, Davis never played in the NFL. After becoming the first black player to be drafted No. 1 overall, Davis was diagnosed with leukemia.

    He died before being able to take the field for the Cleveland Browns.

18. Glenn Davis, Army

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    One half of Army's famous Inside-Outside duo, Glenn “Mr. Outside” Davis was the very speedy halfback who could run around defenders on sweeps and blaze down the field once into open territory.

    After finishing second in Heisman voting in both 1944 and 1945, Davis finally won the Heisman in 1946.

    Along with his partner, “Mr. Inside” Doc Blanchard, Davis helped keep the nation's spirits up during the long years of World War II.

17. Tim Tebow, Florida

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    Perhaps it's too soon to really determine where Tim Tebow will fit into a 50 greatest of all time list. After all, it's only been a few short years since Tebow took off his Florida Gators uniform for the last time.

    Tim Tebow is, at once, one of the most revered and reviled college football stars of the last decade. Love him or hate him, though, you can't ignore his amazing success at Florida.

    After playing a minor role in Florida's 2006 BCS championship season, Tebow became the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman the following season.

    Always in the Heisman race after that, he never quite broke through to capture his second award, although he did lead the Gators to the 2008 BCS title.

    Although Tebow had some impressive numbers at Florida, including his combined 145 touchdowns, perhaps his most impressive stat is the fact that he threw just 15 interceptions over four years.

16. Randy Moss, Marshall

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    It's probably fair to say that Randy Moss didn't get off to the best of starts in college, but before all was said and done, his two years for Marshall were probably two of the most productive years for any wide receiver ever.

    Moss had always wanted to play for Notre Dame, and when he was offered a scholarship, he gladly signed his letter of intent. Before enrolling, however, Moss was involved in a racially motivated fight, and Notre Dame refused to admit him afterward.

    Moss wanted to instead go to Florida State, but the NCAA declared him ineligible to play because he had signed a letter of intent and therefore was a transfer, not a incoming true freshman.

    Moss redshirted his 1995 freshman year as a transfer to Florida State. While serving a 30-day jail sentence, Moss tested positive for marijuana, violating his probation. He served an additional 60 days in jail and was expelled from Florida State.

    Moss decided to attend Marshall, which was then a Division I-AA program, meaning he could play immediately without sitting out a year due to transfer rules.

    After beginning his college career in Division I-AA, Marshall moved up in class to I-A for the 1997 season. Moss proved that his success in 1996 against I-AA opposition was no fluke or due to a lower level of competition.

    Moss finished his career at Marshall with 4,706 all-purpose yards and 55 touchdowns—having played just 28 games.

15. Dave Rimington, Nebraska

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    Dave Rimington is easily considered the greatest college center of all time—so much, in fact, that the Rimington Trophy has been awarded to the nation's top center since 2000.

    Rimington wasn't only a beast on the field. He exemplified exactly what college football players are supposed to be: student-athletes. In addition to his winning the Outland Trophy twice and being named an All-American twice, Rimington was also a two-time Academic All-American.

14. Bo Jackson, Auburn

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    Before the rest of us knew what Bo knew, he was one of the greatest players ever to take to the gridiron for the Auburn Tigers.

    In 1985, Jackson averaged 6.4 yards per carry on his way to 1,786 rushing yards. That 6.4 yards per carry was at the time the best single-season SEC mark and earned Jackson the 1985 Heisman Trophy.

    His number 34 has been retired by Auburn, and Jackson went on to successful careers with the Oakland Raiders in the NFL and the Kansas City Royals in the American League of Major League Baseball.

13. Roger Staubach, Navy

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    In the long history of Annapolis football, there is one name that stands out above the rest.

    Roger Staubach is easily the greatest football player ever to suit up for the United States Naval Academy, and he led Navy to its highest-ever finish—No. 2—in his 1964 Heisman season.

    After college, he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Staubach was committed to serving in the US Navy, though, and instead served a brief tour of duty in the South China Sea during Vietnam.

    After joining the Cowboys as a 27-year-old rookie, he built a Hall of Fame career in Dallas.

12. Doc Blanchard, Army

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    The other half of Army's prolific and devastating running attack was Doc “Mr. Inside” Blanchard.

    Together, Davis and Blanchard made up one of the game's greatest duos. The year prior to Davis' Heisman Trophy success, it was Doc Blanchard bringing home the hardware. In his 1945 Heisman season, Blanchard scored 19 touchdowns, leading Army to a national championship, and became the first junior to win the Heisman Trophy.

11. Howard Cassady, Ohio State

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    There have been a lot of amazing players at Ohio State, but there may be none more important to Ohio State's tradition of excellence than Howard Cassady.

    In his 36 games for the Buckeyes, Cassady scored 37 touchdowns between 1952 and '55. He was easily the nation's top runner of the time, and he also excelled at cornerback for the Buckeyes.

    He also captured a Heisman Trophy and led Ohio State to a national title.

10. Earl Campbell, Texas

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    There's a reason the NFL requires its players to spend at least two years in college before arriving in the pros. Most 18-year-olds just don't have the physical maturity to survive the murderous hits dished out every Sunday in the NFL.

    Earl Campbell may be the exception. Famed Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer once said that Campbell was the only player he had ever seen that could have gone straight from high school to the NFL and been a star.

    Pretty high praise coming from the coach of your arch-rival.

    In 1977, Campbell became the first Longhorn to win the Heisman Trophy while leading the nation in rushing.

9. Dick Butkus, Illinois

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    Dick Butkus is perhaps the top contender for title of “greatest linebacker of all time.”

    Butkus had 373 tackles during his career at Illinois, but many people forget that he also started at center for the Illini.

    Not only is this College Football Hall of Famer an easy selection for any top 50 list, he's a shoo-in for any top 10 list as well.

8. Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh

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    There are few times when being small is an advantage on the football field.

    When you're the running back is one of them.

    It may be hard to remember, but there was a time when Pittsburgh was relevant to the national college football picture, and Tony Dorsett was right in the middle of that conversation. Not only did Dorsett lead the Panthers to the 1976 national championship, but he won the 1976 Heisman Trophy as well.

    This three-time All-American finished his career at Pitt with 6,082 rushing yards, an NCAA record that would stand until 1998.

    Dorsett was selected No. 2 overall in the 1977 NFL draft, and he went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Cowboys.

7. Jim Thorpe, Carlisle

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    There is, still today, no better compliment one can give any athlete than to compare him to Jim Thorpe.

    Thorpe was an All-American at Carlisle in 1911 and 1912 and led Carlisle to a shocking 18-15 upset over Harvard. Not only did Carlisle knock off Harvard, but Thorpe scored every point in the game. Carlisle captured the 1912 national championship, with the obvious reason being that no athlete on the field was anywhere close to Thorpe's level.

    Thorpe was also a baseball standout and an Olympic track runner.

6. Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State

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    It's hard to believe that Barry Sanders started only one season at Oklahoma State, especially given the statistical display during that 1988 season.

    One of the greatest, if not the greatest, running backs in college football history, Sanders rewrote Oklahoma State and NCAA record books with 2,628 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns during the regular season. He added another 222 yards and five touchdowns during the Holiday Bowl that season.

    After his one year in the spotlight after two years serving as an unknown backup, Sanders took his 1988 Heisman Trophy and left for a successful, record-breaking career with the Detroit Lions.

5. Archie Griffin, Ohio State

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    Without question, no list of top college football players would be complete without Archie Griffin.

    Griffin is, to date, the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, and to hear an Ohio State fan tell it, Griffin is the closest thing to God Almighty had He ever decided to play football.

    Griffin won the nation's top college football honor in 1974 and 1975, but there are more than a few who still feel his 1975 trophy was awarded more on his reputation than anything else. After all, his senior season didn't quite measure up statistically to his junior year.

    Whether or not Griffin deserved two Heisman Trophies, it's clear that he is one of the greatest college football players in the history of the game.

4. Tommie Frazier, Nebraska

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    As God-like as Archie Griffin's aura is in Columbus, Lincoln has its own version of a football deity in Tommie Frazier.

    Frazier led Nebraska to two straight national championships in the 1990s and is the only quarterback to accomplish such a feat in the previous four decades.

    When Frazier finally left Lincoln, he had rewritten the Cornhuskers' record books, setting marks for total offense, touchdown passes and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

    He also broke several NCAA marks.

    Yet the one thing lacking on Frazier's résumé is a Heisman Trophy. He came close in 1995, finishing second in the voting that season.

3. Doak Walker, Southern Methodist

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    Doak Walker is one of the all-time greats and may be the best running back in the history of the game.

    Walker won the 1948 Heisman as a junior at SMU after rushing for 537 yards. He was also an occasional quarterback and frequent defensive back. He was also SMU's kicker.

    After his four years at SMU were finished, Walker had amassed 1,928 rushing yards, 454 receiving yards and 1,654 passing yards.

    Today, the Doak Walker Award is presented to the nation's top running back.

2. Red Grange, Illinois

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    Besides Dick Butkus, there is only one player at Illinois to have his number retired. That player is “The Galloping Ghost,” Red Grange.

    In his first game for the Illini, he rushed for three touchdowns against Nebraska.

    Grange had 3,362 career rushing yards, 253 receiving yards and 31 total touchdowns at Illinois. He also threw for 575 yards in his three seasons, 1923 through 1925.

    Grange was named an All-American in all three seasons.

1. Herschel Walker, Georgia

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    We finally come to our top pick on our list of the top 50 players in college football history.

    Herschel Walker is without question one of the greatest players ever to suit up for “dear old U,” and right from his freshman season at Georgia, everyone knew this player was a once-in-a-lifetime athlete.

    As a freshman, Walker rushed for 1,616 yards and 15 touchdowns, leading the way for Georgia towards an undefeated season and national championship.

    With Walker as a Bulldog, Georgia would lose just three games in three seasons, and Walker left UGA after his Heisman-winning junior season for the upstart USFL.

    Many believe to this day that had Walker stayed at Georgia for his senior season, he would have been a shoo-in for a second Heisman Trophy in 1983.