College Football: Greatest Offensive Player of the Decade

Justin HokansonSenior Writer IJuly 22, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators runs the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the FedEx BCS National Championship game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Yesterday it was the greatest defensive player of the decade. Today it's time to crown the greatest offensive player of the decade.

Now this doesn't include offensive linemen, because that is a very hard thing to rank and decide which ones were truly the best.

So we'll stick with skill position players, but that will provide more than enough firepower to choose from in the last 10 years. This includes even players who only played one or two years in this decade, so guys like LaDainian Tomlinson is included.

The list that you are about to read is absolutely prolific in every way, and many of them would be among the best at their positions of all time, not just the current decade.

Let's get to it then, and you decide who was left off and who you would choose as the best offensive player in the last decade.

Matt Leinart, Quarterback, Southern Cal

10,693 yards passing, 99 touchdowns

Before he was wasting his career away by partying, Leinart was winning back-to-back national championships and leading one of college football's greatest teams in 2004. A two-time winner of the Archie Griffin award, and winner of the Heisman Trophy, Manning Award, Johnny Unitas Award, and the Maxwell Award.

Tim Tebow, Quarterback, Florida

6,159 yards passing, 67 touchdowns/2,037 yards rushing 43 touchdowns
*Career still in progress

The most popular college football player maybe of all time is a no brainer. Tebow has already won two national titles, one as a starter, a Heisman Trophy, the Manning Award, and the Davey O'Brien Award. Tebow has his team geared up for another national title run in 2009 and could add his second Heisman Trophy as well.

Vince Young, Quarterback, Texas

6,040 yards passing, 44 touchdowns/3,127 yards rushing, 37 touchdowns

While Tebow is a great dual threat talent, Young was more dangerous with the ball in his hands. Vince Young single-handedly beat USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl to win a national title racking up over 450 total yards himself. Winner of the Davey O'Brien Award, Archie Manning Award, and Heisman runner-up to Reggie Bush in 2005.

Adrian Peterson, Running back, Oklahoma

4,057 yards rushing, 41 touchdowns

Nicknamed "A.D.", meaning "All Day", Peterson was a man amongst boys running the football. He rushed for a ridiculous 1,900 plus yards as a true freshman in 2004 and was a Heisman runner-up to Matt Leinart. Peterson was a Doak Walker and Heisman Trophy finalist, and a Jim Brown Award winner as well.

Darren Sproles, Running back, Kansas State

4,979 yards rushing, 45 touchdowns

Sproles was one of the most exciting college backs of all time. Who can forget his great performance in the 2003 Big 12 championship game helping defeat No. 1 Oklahoma 35-7. Sproles had a crazy 6.1 yards per carry for his career and ranks sixth all time in NCAA all purpose yardage.

Carnell Williams, Running back, Auburn

3,831 yards rushing, 45 touchdowns

If not for a man named Bo Jackson, Carnell Williams might be the most famous Auburn player of all time. Nicknamed "Cadillac", Williams was a four-year starter whose numbers would have been even better if not for sharing carries with his counterpart Ronnie Brown.

Williams was a nine-time SEC player of the week and set a school record with an incredible 741 attempts.

Larry Johnson, Running back, Penn State

2,782 yards rushing, 25 touchdowns

Now known as "LJ", Larry Johnson burst on the scene in 2002 rushing for over 2,000 yards. While Johnson didn't win the Heisman in 2002, he was the winner of the Doak Walker Award, Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award.

LaDainian Tomlinson, Running back, TCU

5,263 yards rushing, 40 touchdowns

Tomlinson ranks right up there with Barry Sanders, Bo Jackson, and others as the most gifted college backs to ever play. Tomlinson won the Doak Walker Award and the Jim Brown awards in 2000, and set a single game record with 406 yards against UTEP in 1999.

Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh

2,677 yards receiving, 34 touchdowns

Absolutely the best hands I've ever seen on a receiver, period. Who knew a former Minnesota Vikings ball boy turns out to be a college great. Fitzgerald was a Fred Biletnikoff Award and Walter Camp Award winner.

Michael Crabtree, Wide receiver, Texas Tech

3,127 yards receiving, 41 touchdowns

Crabtree just finished an incredible career including the play of the year last season with a game-winning catch against Texas that is for all time. Crabtree was a two-time Fred Biletnikoff Award winner and a two time Paul Warfield Award winner.

Calvin Johnson, Wide receiver, Georgia Tech

2,927 yards receiving, 28 touchdowns

One of the most physically gifted receivers to ever play college football, Johnson was a freak of an athlete recording a sub 4.4 40-yard dash as well as a 45-inch vertical leap. He made All-American and All-ACC teams as well as winning the Biletnikoff Award as well.

Josh Reed, Wide receiver, LSU

3,001 yards receiving, 17 touchdowns

Who knew a backup running back would turn into one of the all time SEC great receivers. Reed set a SEC single game record with 293 yards against Alabama, averaged 145 yards per game in 2001, and won the Biletnikoff Award.

Charles Rogers, Wide receiver, Michigan State

2,551 yards receiving, 27 touchdowns

Rogers holds school records for touchdowns in a career, and also holds the record for most yards in a game with 270. He's a Biletnikoff Award winner and was the second overall draft pick in 2003.

Braylon Edwards, Wide receiver, Michigan

3,541 yards receiving, 39 touchdowns

In a program known for great wideouts, Edwards may be the best to wear the maize and blue. In 2004, Edwards set single season records for receptions and yards, and holds the career record for receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Edwards also won the Biletnikoff Award in 2004.

Kellen Winslow Jr., Tight end, Miami (FL)

1,330 yards receiving, 9 touchdowns

Regardless of the overall attitude and ego that Winslow has, he was one of the most gifted tight ends to play college football. Following in Jeremy Shockey's footsteps, Winslow won the Mackey Award given to the best tight end in the nation.

He also had a record game in the 2003 national championship loss to Ohio State, racking up 11 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Heath Miller, Tight end, Virginia

1,703 yards, 20 touchdowns

Miller had some of the best hands for a tight end you will ever see making plenty of acrobatic catches in his career at Virginia. Nicknamed "Big Money", Miller won the Mackey Award in 2004, and was actually originally signed to play quarterback with the Cavaliers.

Reggie Bush, Running back, Southern Cal

6,541 all purpose yards, 42 touchdowns

Did you think I was going to forget Bush? One of the most electrifying players in college football history, Bush was a Heisman Trophy winner in 2005 and was the closest thing we've seen to Barry Sanders since Sanders won the Heisman. Bush also won the Doak Walker Award, Walter Camp Award, and was AP player of the year in 2005.

So who's it going to be? So many ridiculous playmakers that you can't really go wrong.

After some deep, insightful thought (not really), the best offensive player of the last decade in my eyes is you guessed it, Tim Tebow.

Now I'm not a Tebow fanatic, but you can't ignore a guy with two national title rings, as a crucial role player and as a starter, and a Heisman Trophy winner as a sophomore with a chance to win a second Heisman in 2009.

Tebow will have over 11,000 yards of total offense and over 125 career touchdowns for his career, and doing it both through the air and on the ground is even more impressive in my mind than just being a prolific passer.

We don't even have to get into the kind of leader he is either, although that would just strengthen his hold on the best offensive player of the last decade.

I'd say Reggie Bush was a close second, followed by LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Fitzgerald.

So I'm sure the Tebow haters will voice their opinions, so let's hear it. Who would you have chosen? Who did I leave off?

I look forward to seeing your responses.


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