Best College Footballer of All States: In the Biggest Debates

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By Sean Merriman
FOX Sports Editor-in-Chief

Who is the greatest college football player in each of the 50 states?

That’s the question FOX Sports College football writer RJ Young and I attempted to answer in our recently published article on “Best College Player Of All States.”

While some of the selections on our list were as straightforward as it gets (Barry Sanders for Kansas and Ronnie Lott for New Mexico), other states were much more difficult and led to heated debate.

First of all, it’s important to break down the criteria that RJ and I used when creating this list.

  • This list is based on the place of birth of each player.
  • This list is based on the college careers of the players.
  • This list is based on an entire college career, not a single season.

Now that that part is settled, let’s get into the states that have sparked the hottest debates.

CALIFORNIA: REGGIE BUSH (SPRING VALLEY, CALIFORNIA)

Who else was in the running: Marcus Allen, JO Simpson, Matt Leinart, Ricky Williams

In the debate: If you grew up watching Reggie Bush destroy enemy defenses in the early to mid-2000s, then chances are you looked at his name under the State of California, you thought “yes, that walk “and continued.

But the same can be said of Ricky Williams in the ’90s, Marcus Allen in the’ 80s, and OJ Simpson in the ’60s. These three full-backs have covered over 3,400 yards in their college careers and all of them. three won the Heisman Trophy. In fact, Williams broke Tony Dorsett’s all-time NCAA running record in 1998, totaling 6,279 yards in just 46 career games.

Bush’s college teammate Matt Leinart was another record star born and raised in California. He left USC as the school’s all-time leader in touchdown passes and career completion percentage and placed second behind former Heisman winner Carson Palmer in yards by the pass. He was the 2004 Heisman recipient and finished third in his senior year vote behind Bush and runner-up Vince Young.

But in the end, the choice was Bush, who was arguably the greatest all-rounder in college football history. In three years, Bush totaled 6,541 multi-purpose yards en route to being named a two-time All-American and 2005 Heisman recipient. In addition to his incredible individual stats, Bush helped the Trojans to 34 straight wins and two domestic titles at USC.

GEORGIA: CAM NEWTON (ATLANTA)

Who else was in the running: Jim Brown, Calvin Johnson, Herschel Walker, Charlie Ward

In the debate: While there were at least 10 or 12 really tough decisions to make with this list, picking the best Georgia State college football player was by far the toughest. One could make a legitimate argument for Jim Brown and Herschel Walker not only as the best player in the state of Georgia, but also as the best player in college football history.

In the mid-1950s, Brown was the most dominant player in the sport, and frankly, it wasn’t close. He led the country in average kickoff returns as a junior and touchdowns as a senior en route to becoming Syracuse’s first unanimous All-American.

Fast forward 30 years when Walker entered the University of Georgia campus, and he’s quickly established himself as the player every great college backer is measured against. During his three-year college career, Walker racked up 5,259 yards and 52 touchdowns while being named a three-time All-American. He was named SEC Player of the Year every three years in college and won the 1982 Heisman, as well as the Maxwell and Walter Camp awards. Walker set 41 Georgia football records, 16 SEC records and 11 NCAA records while leading the Bulldogs to a combined mark of 33-3 from 1980 to 82.

While Calvin Johnson and Charlie Ward weren’t as highly regarded as Brown and Walker, they were certainly part of the conversation. Ward was a star of two sports at Florida State and the 1993 Heisman winner after leading the Seminoles to their first national championship. Meanwhile, Johnson was a two-time US First Team All-Star and 2006 ACC Player of the Year at Georgia Tech. His 2,927 receiving yards and 28 career touchdowns are both school records.

When all was said and done, a decision had to be made between Newton, Brown and Walker. All three had incredible stats and an accolades list as long as a novel, and perhaps more importantly, they were all winners.

As a result, we relied on the good old eye test, and there was simply nothing Newton couldn’t do on the football field. In 2010 at Auburn, he lost just 73 total yards after a season of 3,000 passing and 1,500 yards rushing while counting 51 touchdowns and just seven picks. He rushed, got it and caught a touchdown this season while recording a tackle. Quite simply, there is only one Cam Newton.

OHIO: ARCHIE GRIFFIN (COLUMBUS, OHIO)

Who else was in the running: Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard, Orlando Pace

In the debate: Let’s start by stating the obvious… you can’t create a list of the greatest college football players of all time and not include the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner. That said, when you also have the first defensive player to win Heisman, the third wide receiver to win Heisman, and arguably the most dominant offensive lineman in college football history, it makes things a bit difficult. .

Charles Woodson was a unique talent in a generation that took the college football world by storm in the mid-1990s. He played the role of defensive back, but was also a remarkable wide receiver and a specialist in returns. ‘University of Michigan. In his three seasons at Ann Arbor, Woodson totaled 16 interceptions, 370 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns, 167 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 321 punt return yards and one scoring. Most importantly, he helped lead the Wolverines to the 1997 National Championship, the program’s first since 1948.

Before Charles Woodson became the University of Michigan’s “campus big man”, Desmond Howard was Ann Arbor’s biggest name. After being drafted as a fullback, Howard switched positions and played both the wide receiver and the return specialist role. His signing moment came in his 1991 Heisman season, when he returned a 93-yard punt for a score against rival Ohio State and then hit the Heisman pose in the end zone.

The other name to consider in the state of Ohio was former Buckeye offensive tackle Orlando Pace, aka “The Pancake Man.” A two-time unanimous All-American, Pace became the first player in college football history to win the Lombardi Award in his sophomore and then repeat as a junior.

It was a tough decision that led to quite a debate, but the two-time Heisman winner who started in four consecutive Rose Bowl games had to be the choice. During his four-year career, Griffin passed the 100-yard rushing mark on 34 occasions, including in an NCAA record 31 straight games.

TEXAS: VINCE YOUNG (HOUSTON)

Who else was in the running: Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson

In the debate: Texas is known as the football capital of the world, so picking the top Lone Star State player was no easy task. Apart from Vince Young, every other player who was considered a running back happened to be a running back, and two of them played at the college level around the same time.

Besides being both born and raised in the state of Texas, Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson had a lot of similarities on the grill. Both were known for their punitive running style, as they used their size and strength to get through their opponents. Campbell ended his college career in Texas with 4,443 yards and 40 rushing touchdowns in 40 games en route to winning the 1977 Heisman Trophy.

Soon after, Dickerson hit the college scene with a bang, totaling 4,450 yards on 790 carries, which broke Campbell’s Southwestern Conference record for yards and attempts.

There were plenty of outstanding backs from the state of Texas over the next two decades, but when Adrian Peterson set foot on the Oklahoma campus as a true freshman, he brought with him a feeling of grandeur. Nicknamed “AD” for “All Day,” Peterson burst onto the scene in 2004, rushing for 1,925 yards and 15 touchdowns while leading the Sooners to the BCS Championship game. He broke the 1,000-yard rushing mark over his three seasons at Norman, ending his college career with 4,041 yards and 41 rushing touchdowns.

As good as this trio were, there simply wasn’t a college football quarterback like Vince Young, which became more than evident during the 2006 Rose Bowl, when he arguably achieved the greatest ever. individual performance in college football history: 267 passing yards, 200 rushing yards, three touchdowns and a victory over a USC team that had won 34 straight games.

Young finished this season with 3,036 passing yards, 1,050 rushing yards and 38 total touchdowns, making him the first player in NCAA Division I history to throw more than 3,000 yards and run over 1,000 yards in a season.

Other states that have sparked great debate:

FLORIDA: Deion Sanders (Fort Myers, Florida)

Who else was in the running: Anthony Carter, Tommy Frazier, Derrick Thomas

MISSISSIPPI: Jerry Rice (Starkville, Mississippi)

Who else was in the running: Hugh Green, Archie Manning, Steve McNair, Walter Payton

NEW JERSEY: Mike Rozier (Camden, New Jersey)

Who else was in the running: Mark Ingram, Franco Harris, Raghib Ismail

OKLAHOMA: Sam Bradford (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)

Who else was in contention: Brian Bosworth, Lee Roy Selmon, Jim Thorpe, Jason White

PENNSYLVANIA: Tony Dorsett (Rochester, Pennsylvania)

Who else was in the running: Chuck Bednarik, Fred Biletnikoff, Eddie George, Red Grange


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