Greatest College Football Players

This is the America's Best Online list of the greatest college football players of all time. This top 100 list starts with Jim Thorpe who played in the early 1900's when players didn't have thick pads and proper head gear. It was a tough game back then and Jim was the best of the best. Tim Tebow makes the list as a recent player who undeniably deserves to be in the top 10 based on his total offence numbers leading Florida to two national championships during this time there. You will recognize many other names from this list. Many went on to success in the National Football League, coaching careers, and broadcasting. Others were great college football players but had little to no success playing in the NFL (examples include Steve Emtman and Brian Bosworth).

The top ten list includes a quick summary of the player and his accomplishments in college. Keep in mind that this entire list is based on collegiate performance and statistics not their professional careers. As you review the list you'll see names that might make the top 10 professional football players of all time list (e.g. Jerry Rice, John Elway). Several of these players are still playing pro football and will make the Hall of Fame.

1. Jim Thorpe HB, Carlisle -
In 1911, Thorpe played running back, defensive back, place-kicker, and punter for his school's football team. He scored all of his team's points (four field goals and a touchdown) in an 18-13 upset victory over Harvard. Carlisle finished the season 11-1. The next year, Thorpe led Carlisle to the national collegiate championship, scoring 25 touchdowns and 198 points, including an upset victory over national powerhouse Army. He won All-American honors in both 1911 and 1912.

2. Herschel Walker RB, Georgia -
At UGA, Walker set an NCAA freshman rushing record and led Georgia to the national football championship. He earned consensus All-American honors three consecutive years, set 10 NCAA records, 15 Southeast Conference records, 30 Georgia all-time records. In his junior and final year at Georgia, he was awarded the 1982 Heisman Trophy.

3. Red Grange HB, Illinois - In his sophomore year, the "The Galloping Ghost" ran for 723 yards and scored twelve touchdowns while leading Illinois to a national championship. But, he is most remembered for his 4 touchdowns(95, 67, 56, 44 yards) in the first quarter against Michigan in 1924. He played only 20 games in college but had 31 touchdowns and 3,362 yards.


  4. Sammy Baugh QB/DB/P, TCU - "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh of Texas Christian was the first great passer in college football. In 1934, "Slingin'" Sammy threw 587 passes in his three varsity seasons for 39 touchdowns and nearly two miles in yardage. In an era when a quaterback usually three less than 10 passes a game. Baugh was also an excellent punter. He was named All American in 1935 and 1936. and repeated as a consensus All- America in his 1936 senior season. On New Year's Day of 1937 Texas Christian played in the first Cotton Bowl defeating Marquette 16-6.

5. Tim Tebow QB, Florda - He played college football at the University of Florida, where he won a Heisman Trophy. He was the first college football player to both rush and pass for twenty or more touchdowns in a single season and was the first college sophomore to win the Heisman. Tebow won 2 national championships and 3 SEC Title games in his first 3 years at Florida.

6. Hugh Green DE, Pittsburgh -
Hugh Green was a defensive end for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers where he was a three-time All-American from 1978-80. In 1980, Green won the Walter Camp Award, the Maxwell Award, and the Lombardi Award, and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, losing to running back George Rogers of the University of South Carolina.Green left the university with 441 tackles and 53 career sacks in his college career.

7. Archie Griffin RB, Ohio State -
Archie 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.

8. Dick Butkus LB/C, Illinois -
Dick Butkus played with intensity and desire. He was a devastating 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,Butkus made 23 tackles against Ohio State in 1963. Since 1950, only one player linebacker has been voted Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten; that was Butkus in 1963. The American Football Coaches Association named him Player of the Year in 1964.

9. Bronko Nagurski FB/T, Minnesota -
Bronko Nagurski played fullback on offense and tackle on defense at the University of Minnesota from 1927-1929. He was named an All-American at both positions by the New York Sun in 1929. Coach Steve Owen said, "There's only one defense that could stop Nagurski--shoot him before he leaves the dressing room."

10. Earl Campbell RB, Texas -
Earl"the Tyler Rose" Campbell played for the University of Texas from 1973-1977. In a four-year career, he rushed for 4,443 yards. This was the fifth highest total of all time when he retired. His ran for 928 yards as a freshman, 1118 as a sophomore, 653 as a junior (he missed four games), and 1,744 as a senior. He was All-America in 1975 and 1977, and he led the nation in rushing and scoring and won the Heisman Trophy in 1977.

11. Vince Young QB, Texas

12. Jim Brown RB, Syracuse

13. Deion Sanders CB, Florida State

14. O.J. Simpson RB, USC

15. Archie Manning QB, Ole Miss

16. Walter Payton, Jacksonville State

17. John Hannah OL, Alabama

18. Barry Sanders RB, Oklahoma State

19. Bubba Smith DL, Michigan State

20. Joe Washington, RB Oklahoma

21. Lawrence Taylor LB/DE, North Carolina

22. Ron Dayne RB, Wisconsin

23. Doak Walker RB, SMU

24. Dave Rimington C, Nebraska

25. Tony Dorsett RB Pittsburgh

26. Tommy Nobis LB/G, Texas

27. Doug Williams, Grambling State

28. Bo Jackson RB, Auburn 

29. Matt Leinart QB USC

30. Jim Parker OG, Ohio State

31. Marcus Allen RB, USC

32. Doug Flutie QB, Boston College 

33. Ricky Williams RB Texas

34. Bennie Oosterbaan End, Michigan

35. Reggie Bush RB, USC

36. Orlando Pace OT, Ohio State

37. Jerry Rice, Mississippi Valley State

38. Lee Roy Jordan LB/C, Alabama

39. Charles Woodson CB/WR/KR, Michigan

40. Doc Blanchard RB, Army

41. Keith Jackson TE, Oklahoma

42. Lee Roy Selmon DT, Oklahoma

43. Mike Ditka TE/DL, Pittsburgh

44. Chuck Bednarik C/LB, Pennsylvania

45. John Elway QB, Stanford

46. Johnny Rodgers WR/KR, Nebraska

47. Brian Bosworth LB, Oklahoma

48. Rich Glover DL, Nebraska

49. Bill Fralic OT, Pittsburgh

50. Dean Steinkuhler OG, Nebraska

51. Jerry Rice WR, Miss Valley St

52. Chris Spielman LB, Ohio State 

53. Anthony Carter WR, Michigan

54. George Connor T, Holy Cross & Notre Dame

55. Ernie Davis RB, Syracuse

56. Jack Tatum DB, Ohio State

57. Tommy Casanova DB/RB, LSU

58. Mike Singletary LB, Baylor

59. Howard Twilley WR, Tulsa

60. Jerry Robinson LB, UCLA

61. Glenn Davis HB, Army

62. Kenneth Sims DT, Texas

63. Tommie Frazier QB, Nebraska

64. Johnny Lujack QB, Notre Dame

65. Bob Hayes WR, Florida A&M

66. Randy White DL, Maryland

67. Tim Brown FL, Notre Dame

68. Ted Kwalick Tight End, Penn St

69. Leon Hart Line, Notre Dame

70. Ernie Nevers FB, Stanford

71. Jay Berwanger HB, Chicago

72. Charlie Ward QB, Florida State

73. Davey O'Brien QB, TCU

74. Johnny Lattner Back, Notre Dame

75. Steve Emtman DT, Washington

76. Raghib Ismail WR, Notre Dame

77. Charles White RB, USC

78. Bruce Smith HB, Minnesota

79. Desmond Howard WR, Michigan

80. Tom Harmon HB, Michigan

81. Elmer Oliphant Back, Army

82. Bob Gain T/PK, Kentucky

83. Art Shell OT DT, Maryland State

84. Kenny Easley S, UCLA

85. Ronnie Lott S, USC

86. Eric Dickerson, RB, SMU

87. Dan Dierdorf OT, Michigan

88. Ross Browner DE, Notre Dame

89. Paul Robeson End, Rutgers

90. Leroy Keyes RB, Purdue

91. Randy Moss WR, Marshall

92. Randy Gradishar LB, Ohio State

93. Peyton Manning QB, Tennessee

94. John Hicks OL, Ohio State

95. Frank Sinkwich HB, Georgia

96. Jamar Fletcher CB, Wisconsin

97. Jim McMahon QB, BYU

98. Terrell Buckley CB, Florida State

99. Charlie Justice HB, N. Carolina

100. Rod Woodson DB, Purdue

This listing of the top 100 College Football Players of All-time is constantly being revised as we experience and see more college football games and see the atmosphere surrounding these classic stadiums. So, if you feel we are missing one, please email us and let us know!