My Five Best College Football Players of All Time

Each year college football attracts millions of fans to stadiums around the United States.  The season typically starts around the end of August and continues until well into January.  Conferences such as “The Big Ten” create huge rivalries and sports fans clamor to the games dressed in “their” teams colors.


But of all of college football, who were the best players?  The answer can be debated.  Do you count players who only made it to professional football?  If so, you count out greats like Ernie Davis, Eric Crouch, and upcoming NFL hopeful, Tim Tebow.  However, none of these people have made my list for the Best Five College Football Players Who Ever Played the Game.  I am sure there will be people who disagree with me.  Then again, that’s the purpose of this web site.  See who you think is the Best Five…  



Red Grange, The Galloping Ghost1.      Red Grange HB, Illinois –  Arguably the reason anyone even pays attention to college football, Red Grange, known as “The Galloping Ghost”, ran for 723 yards and scored twelve touchdowns while leading Illinois to a national championship. His most memorable moment was in 1924 when he four touchdowns in the first quarter against Michigan in 1924.  Most remarkably, Grange had 31 touchdowns and 3,362 yards – but only played 20 games!




jim thorpe2.      Jim Thorpe HB, CarlisleThorpe first gained nationwide attention in 1911 when he played running back, defensive back, place-kicker, and punter for Carlisle. In one game against Harvard that year, he scored all of his team’s points (four field goals and a touchdown) to lead the team to an 18-13 upset victory. Carlisle finished the season 11-1. In 1912, Thorpe led Carlisle to the national collegiate championship, scoring 25 touchdowns and 198 points including a victory over national powerhouse Army. He won All-American honors in both 1911 and 1912.



dick butkus3.      Dick Butkus LB/C, IllinoisButkus was a linebacker for Illinois from 1962 through 1964 and also played center. He was a unanimous All-America in 1963 and 1964.  In one of his biggest games, in 1963, Butkus made 23 tackles against Ohio State.  Since 1950, Dick Butkus is the only linebacker to be voted Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten.  The American Football Coaches Association named him Player of the Year in 1964.




archie griffin4.      Archie Griffin RB, Ohio StateArchie Griffin played at Ohio State from 1972-75 and was voted All-America three times. Griffin is the only player to start in four Rose Bowls, the only player to win the Heisman Trophy twice. He rushed for 1428 yards as a sophomore, 1620 as a junior, 1357 as a senior. The Sporting News named him the 1975 “Man of the Year.” He set an NCAA rushing record of 31 consecutive 100-yard games rushing. His career rushing total, 5177 yards, was an NCAA record at the time.



gayle sayers5.      Gayle Sayers RB, Kansas Sayers was a two-time All-American player at the University of Kansas. During his college career, he rushed for 2,675 yards and gained 3,917 all-purpose yards. In 1963, he set an NCAA Division I record with a 99-yard run against Nebraska. In his senior year, he led the Jayhawks to a 15-14 upset victory over Oklahoma with a 96-yard kickoff return. Sayers is considered by many to have been the greatest open field runner in college football history.



Other players of honorable mention (and another “Best Five”) are: Earl Campbell, Bronko Nagurski, George Gip, Sammy Baugh, and Jim Brown.


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