2001 Miami Hurricanes and the Most NFL-Rich College Football Teams Ever
As the college football season wraps up, a national champion will be crowned, and all eyes will turn to the NFL Draft. Players will declare and work out for teams in hopes of being one of the top picks selected.
Being selected in the NFL Draft is the culmination of one's collegiate efforts and is sometimes why players decide to attend the schools they do.
After all, some college teams, even if they weren't national title contenders, have brought in a boatload of talent that went on to have great success in the NFL.
The following are 20 of the best college classes in this regard—the ones who gave the NFL the greatest talent.
2001 Miami Hurricanes
One of the greatest college teams of all time also had one of the greatest draft pools of all time.
Six players were drafted in the first round, and many of them still play today: Andre Johnson, Bryant McKinnie, Jeremy Shockey, Phillip Buchanon, Ed Reed and Mike Rumph.
Not to be outdone, the later rounds included Clinton Portis, Ken Dorsey and Najeh Davenport. Underclassmen who later joined the league include Jonathan Vilma and Willis McGahee.
You could build an NFL team with just the 2001 Hurricanes.
2004 Miami Hurricanes
The Hurricanes in 2004 did not have the same success as the team in 2001, but once they got to the NFL, they could hang with the rest.
Drafted players include Antrel Rolle, Roscoe Parrish and Frank Gore. Underclassmen who later went on to be drafted include Devin Hester, Kelly Jennings and Brandon Meriweather.
1980 Pittsburgh Panthers
The Pittsburgh Panthers had a great team in the early 1980s that saw some NFL success. They don't have the quantity that Miami does, but they had multiple Hall of Famers. Hugh Green, Randy McMillan, Mark May, Rickey Jackson and Russ Grimm were among the selections.
Their sophomore quarterback was also drafted a couple years later: Dan Marino.
1982 SMU Mustangs
Controversy aside, this team focused on quality over quantity in moving to the NFL.
Eric Dickerson became a high-level pro running back and set the single-season rushing record, Wes Hopkins is an underrated defensive back and Craig James was the last white player until recently to rush for 1,000 yards.
Beyond that, Dale Hellestrae was a longtime fixture in the Cowboys' multiple Super Bowl victories, and Rod Jones and Joe Phillips played for a while as well.
1999 Tennessee Volunteers
Despite losing Peyton Manning, the 1999 Vols were a great team. They were national champions, and the talent they sent to the NFL reflected that.
Jamal Lewis and Shaun Ellis were both first-round draft picks, and later picks included Raynoch Thompson, Deon Grant and Chad Clifton.
The undergraduate roster is likely better: Travis Henry, Donte' Stallworth, John Henderson and Albert Haynesworth.
1980 USC Trojans
The roster of the 1980 Trojans is so good that it could be compared to the 2001 Hurricanes. Keith Van Horne, Dennis Smith and Ronnie Lott were first-round draft picks, and the players drafted in the 1981 class were even more decorated.
The 1980 team at USC included Marcus Allen, Chip Banks, Bruce Matthews, Jack Del Rio, Roy Foster and Hoby Brennan. Add a quarterback to this core and you have yourself a team.
2003 USC Trojans
You could move this up or down a year depending on who you want to include (put it at 2002 if you want Carson Palmer or Troy Polamalu in), but nonetheless USC in the early 2000s was an NFL factory.
The draft class in 2004 wasn't anything special: just Keary Colbert and Kenechi Udeze. After that, though, the doors flew off.
NFL players on the 2003 team include Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel, Sedrick Ellis, Steve Smith, Eric Wright and Lofa Tatupu, to name a few. Perhaps there are no future Hall of Famers there, but certainly there are good players.
1987 UCLA Bruins
Once upon a time, UCLA was actually good in football. They had Freeman McNeil, Jay Schroeder and others that ended up drafted.
Their 1987 team, however, was amazing at the pro level. Players drafted included Gaston Green, Ken Norton Jr., Willie "Flipper" Anderson and David Richards.
The following year, Carnell Lake was drafted, as was a quarterback selected by the Cowboys named Troy Aikman.
2003 LSU Tigers
Many remember the championship dispute between USC and LSU in 2003, but what some may not is that LSU's team may have been better in the NFL. Marcus Spears and LaRon Landry led the defense, but the offense is what was truly loaded.
Outside of bust quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn, the offense in the NFL includes Joseph Addai, Michael Clayton, Devery Henderson and Dwayne Bowe. They also make up half of the Bengals' offensive line with Andrew Whitworth and Nate Livings.
1994 Florida State Seminoles
One year removed from the national championship, the 1994 Florida State team was likely better as an NFL team than a college team.
The many players that went on to the NFL include Derrick Brooks, Zack Crockett, Corey Fuller, Orpheus Roye, Warrick Dunn and Tra Thomas, just to name a few.
1999 Florida State Seminoles
The 1999 team was another one that was simply loaded on offense. They did have some players drafted on the defensive end (Corey Simon, Chris Hope), but it was the offense that shined. Players drafted from that include Chris Weinke, Travis Minor, Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans.
If those names sound more like NFL busts, let's try Laveranues Coles, Anquan Boldin, Javon Walker and Sebastian Janikowski.
1997 Michigan Wolverines
When one thinks of Michigan, late 1990s, Tom Brady comes to mind. Beyond that, though, they were also the national champions in 1997 and turned that into a great NFL legacy.
Besides Brady, NFL players included Brian Griese, Jay Feely, Steve Hutchinson, Dhani Jones, Anthony Thomas and Charles Woodson.
2003 Ohio State Buckeyes
While many of these teams load up the NFL with great offense, Ohio State teams go the other way, bringing loads of defense into the league.
The 2003 team sent Will Smith, Chris Gamble and Michael Jenkins into the league in the first round, though they did take a year off in 2004, not sending in much besides Mike Nugent.
In 2005 and 2006, they unloaded everything into the NFL, including A.J. Hawk, Donte Whitner, Santonio Holmes, Bobby Carpenter, Nick Mangold, Ashton Youboty, Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez and Troy Smith.
2005 Texas Longhorns
The 2005 Longhorns had a mix of great upperclassmen that won the championship as well as great freshmen who are now making an impact on the NFL. Players drafted include Vince Young, Ahmard Hall, Cedric Griffin and Michael Huff.
Players drafted or who played later on include Justin Blalock, Colt McCoy, Selvin Young, Jamaal Charles, Limas Sweed, Brian Orakpo and Michael Griffin.
1981 Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Nebraska Cornhuskers always seem to create NFL talent, even if they don't have the country's best teams.
Such was the case in the early 1980s, where graduates included Irving Fryar, Roger Craig, Mike Rozier and Dave Rimington. Not necessarily huge names, but they had very nice careers nonetheless.
1995 Nebrasksa Cornhuskers
While the 1981 team was good, the 1995 team was great, winning the national title for the second straight year.
Players that went on to the NFL from this team were Kris Brown, Ahman Green, Eric Warfield and Grant Wistrom, to name a few.
1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Some time ago, Notre Dame was the face of college football, as is evident in their 1988 championship. While they had many go on to the pros, some of them ended up having short yet tragic careers (Jeff Alm and Rodney Culver).
Others did have solid careers, however, such as Todd Lyght, Andy Heck, Rod Smith, Anthony Johnson and Raghib Ismail. The cream of the crop, however, was potential Hall of Famer Ricky Watters.
1984 BYU Cougars
This group of national championship players took a while to get moving in the NFL but was great once they did.
The top of this group is Hall of Famer Steve Young, though linemen Trevor Matich and Bart Oates were solid. Others who were productive at the pro level include Kurt Gouveia, Leon White, Vai Sikahema and Jason Buck.
1987 Oklahoma State Cowboys
The 1987 Oklahoma State team didn't have many players enter the NFL. What they lacked in quantity, they made up for in quality. In 1988, Ricky Shaw and Thurman Thomas were drafted, and in 1989, Hart Lee Dykes was drafted.
Another player that was drafted in 1989 was none other than Barry Sanders.
1997 Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia in the late 1990s was composed of a team of very good players. Once they made the leap to the NFL, they became great.
Players on the 1997 team include Hines Ward, Champ Bailey, Chris Terry, Patrick Pass, Marcus Stroud and Richard Seymour.