- 10 Greatest Quarterbacks of
10 Greatest Defensive Players
- 10 Greatest Regular Season
Games of All-Time
Playmakers of All-Time
- 10 Worst Heisman Winners
All-Time Offensive Team
| All-Time Defensive Team
The All-Time Defensive Team ...
I chose this team the same way I'd pick
an All-America team: merit. I'm not trying to fill a position; I'm going off what actually happened
along with how good they were at a collegiate level. I don't care two
hoots about what these guys did in the pros.
Defensive Ends - Hugh Green, Pitt (1977-1980) and Lawrence
Taylor, North Carolina (1977-1980)
Would any quarterback survive with these two on the ends? They're
hybrids of linebackers and ends and were always, always, always in the
the biggest, most intense and toughest player than the world of college
football had ever seen as the prototype player for
the old days of leather helmet college football. Remember, back in those
days, tackles were 175 to 190 pounds which meant the 6-2, 228-pound Bronk
was bigger than just about everyone else.
Defensive Tackles - Bubba Smith, Michigan State (1964-1966),
Bronko Nagurski, Minnesota (1927-1929)
Tackle was much harder to come up with than end, but I love my
combination of a big, tough player and a smallish, tougher defender.
Smith wasn't just a big player, he was big
and fast requiring teams to use two, three and four players to routinely
keep their eyes on him to block and to make sure he was accounted for when
the plays ran the other way.
Linebackers - Brian Bozworth, Oklahoma (1984-1986), Dick Butkus,
Illinois (1962-1964), Tommy Nobis, Texas (1963-1965)
Nobis averaged 20 tackles
per game during his career and had a flair for the dramatic highlighted by a
stop on fourth and goal at the one to preserve a win in the over No. 1
Alabama in the 1965 Orange Bowl. Behind all the gimmicks and and all the
Bosworth wasn't just all bravado and brashness, he had an ability to
rise up in the big games and had a tackling ability second to none. He was the model of consistency and improved each year
making 128, 131 and 136 tackles leading the Sooners in tackles all three
seasons highlighted by a 22-stop game in the 1986 classic against Miami. He was a consensus All-American in 1985 and 1986 and the first ever
two time Butkus Award Winner.
It wasn't just the 373 tackles he made in his
career, it was the way he made the tackles as the most unblockable
linebacker college football has ever seen. Butkus set the standard to which all
other linebackers are measured with the Butkus Award going each year to the
nation's best college football linebacker.
Cornerbacks - Deion Sanders, Florida State (1985-1988), Charles
Woodson, Michigan (1995-1997)
No brainers on this one for me. As part of one
of the great secondaries in college football history including such future
NFL notables as Leroy Butler and Martin Mayhew, Sanders picked off 14 passes
including three in bowl games. Mere stats don't come close to showing what
kind of player he was as he simply shut down any of the receivers he covered
handling some of the nation's best. He won the Jim Thorpe Award in 1988 as
the nation's best defensive back.
Even with everyone knowing all
about Woodson and hardly ever throwing his way, he still picked off eight passes
including a brilliant one handed grab against Michigan State which made
every highlight reel. Want clutch? Along with the game-saving pick against
Ohio State, he killed a drive in the Rose Bowl intercepting Ryan Leaf in the
end zone. While QB Brian Griese had a magnificent season and the defense was
great as a whole, without Woodson the Wolverines wouldn't have won the
Safeties - Kenny Easley, UCLA (1977-1980), George Webster,
Michigan State (1964-1966)
Ronnie Lott and Roy Williams were
close and I won't argue if you want to add either one. Easley
was everything you'd ever dream of in a defensive back with enough size
(6-1, 206) to hit like a linebacker and 4.5 speed to cover most
receivers. He made 374 tackles and picked off 19 passes.
From his roverback
position, the 6-4, 220 pound Webster was a devastating hitter making 93
stops in 1966 and ten tackles for loss. He was a menace in run support
and still covered receivers as well as any defensive back with peerless
speed for a player of his size.
No argument if you want these guys on the list: Champ Bailey, DB
Georgia; Bennie Blades, DB Miami; Terrell Buckley, DB Florida State;
Chuck Bednarik, LB Penn; Steve Emtman, DL Washington; Jamar Fletcher, DB
Wisconsin; Rich Glover, DL Nebraska; Randy Gradishar, LB Ohio State;
Jack Ham, LB Penn State; Ted Hendricks, DL Miami; Terry Hoague, DB
Georgia; Bob Lilly, DL TCU; Merlin Olsen, DL Utah State; Ronnie Lott, DB
USC; Alan Page, DL Notre Dame; Mike Reid, DL Penn State; Jerry Robinson,
LB UCLA; Lee Roy Selmon, DL Oklahoma; Kenneth Sims, DL Texas; Mike
Singletary, LB Baylor; Bruce Smith, DL Virginia Tech; Chris Spielman, LB
Ohio State; Jack Tatum, DB Ohio State; Derrick Thomas, LB Alabama; Randy
White, DL Maryland; Reggie White, DL Tennessee; Roy Williams, DB
Oklahoma; Rod Woodson, DB Purdue
The All-Time Defensive Team ...
DE Hugh Green, Pittsburgh
(1977-80) If ever a defensive player deserved to win the Heisman, it
was Green in 1980. And maybe 1978 and 1979, too. He was arguably
the fastest defensive end to ever play at this level. Green had a
sudden burst and speed off the edge that led to 441 tackles, 53
sacks and an infinite number of bewildered tackles in his wake.
DT Rich Glover, Nebraska (1970-72) – Glover wasn’t all that
big by tackle standards, but he had blinding quickness that allowed
him to author two of the best seasons ever by a defensive lineman.
During the Huskers’ great run of the early 1970s, he was the
defensive catalyst, disrupting backfield, absorbing multiple blocks
and earning Defensive MVP honors in the 1972 and 1973 Orange Bowls.
Lee Roy Selmon (1972-75) – Selmon was the most complete interior
lineman to ever play the game, and the most heralded athlete in the rich
history of Sooner football. Physically and intellectually, he was the
total package, and he parlayed that skill set into the Outland Trophy
and Lombardi Award following his senior year. Washington’s Steve Emtman
and Maryland’s Randy White were relentless beasts worthy of honorable
DE Bubba Smith, Michigan State (1964-66) – Smith was a
larger-than-life figure who terrorized quarterbacks in the 1960s and
routinely commanded the attention of multiple blockers. More than just
respected by the opposition, the two-time All-American was genuinely
feared, especially by quarterbacks.
LB Dick Butkus, Illinois (1962-64) – The violent and physical
side of football is encapsulated in a single photo of a bloodied and
beaten Butkus. He’s still the embodiment of what it means to de a
defensive warrior. So tough and competitive, Butkus would have body
slammed his mother if she was fighting for extra yards.
LB Tommy Nobis, Texas (1963-65) – Younger generations won’t
remember Nobis, which is unfortunate because he was an absolute stud at
linebacker and a pretty darn good offensive lineman as well. He was the
emotional catalyst of the ‘Horns’ 1963 national championship, and a
two-time All-American. During his three years in Austin, the fiercely
competitive Nobis averaged almost 20 stops a game.
LB Lawrence Taylor, North Carolina (1977-80) – Taylor
revolutionized the outside linebacker position in Chapel Hill, stalking
unsuspecting quarterbacks with cornerback speed and unmatched ferocity.
He was one of those rare individuals that could completely change the
tenor and the momentum of a game from the defensive side of the ball.
Oklahoma’s Brian Bosworth gets unfairly judged by a forgettable NFL
career, but in Norman, he was a tackling machine and a two-time
recipient of the Butkus Award.
CB Deion Sanders, Florida State (1985-88) – Had Deion been born
in the 1930s, he’d never have made it to the football field. His cover
skills and playmaking ability would have been wasted on an era that
largely shunned the forward pass. However, in the 1980s, he was a
game-changer, a defensive weapon capable of nullifying the other team’s
best receiver. He also had crazy speed and moves as a return man for
S George Webster, Michigan State (1964-66) – The somewhat
forgotten man on those suffocating Michigan State defenses, Webster was
a hybrid—part safety, part linebacker and all-world. At 6-4 and 215
pounds, he was one of those versatile size-speed types that was
literally capable of playing any role that the coaching staff assigned
him. Ohio State’s Jack Tatum spent an entire career earning his
nickname, The Assassin. UCLA’s Kenny Easley was that rare breed of
collegiate athlete that earned All-American honors three consecutive
S Ronnie Lott, USC (1977-80) – The way Butkus and Taylor
epitomized what it meant to be a linebacker, Lott evolved into the
definition of a safety. He was one of the most intimidating forces to
ever patrol a secondary, and had uncanny football instincts and
leadership skills. Lott was a unique defensive player capable of
changing the tone of a game with a single punishing hit or turnover.
CB Charles Woodson, Michigan (1995-97) – Safety size coupled with
corner quickness and agility made Woodson one of the all-time great
college cornerbacks. Opposing quarterbacks avoided him like a tax audit
in 1997, yet he still picked off eight passes and found time to make
plays as a wide receiver and kick returner in a brilliant Heisman-culminating
season. Another Woodson, Purdue’s Rod, isn’t far behind Charles on the
cornerback totem pole.
P Ray Guy, Southern Miss (1970-1972) – How good was Guy? He was
the first punter enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame, first
Southern Miss player to have his number retired and a first-round draft
choice of the Oakland Raiders in 1973. Guy also picked off 18 passes as
a safety and cranked out a 61-yard field goal in his senior year.
Iowa’s Reggie Roby is next in line behind Guy.
The All-Time Defensive Team ...
All-time First Team Defensive roster
DT – Rich Glover, Nebraska
DT – Chris Zorich, Notre Dame
DE – Ted Hendricks, Miami
DE – Hugh Green, Pitt
LB – Tommy Nobis, Texas
LB – Dick Butkus, Illinois
LB – Mike Singletary, Baylor
S – Jack Tatum, Ohio State
S – Kenny Easley, UCLA
CB – Deion Sanders, Florida State
CB – Charles Woodson, Michigan
All-time Second Team Defensive roster
DT – Steve Emtman, Washington
DT – Bubba Smith, Michigan State
DE – Reggie White, Tennessee
DE – David Pollack, Georgia
LB – Lawrence Taylor, North Carolina
LB – Cornelius Bennett, Alabama
LB – Jerry Robinson, UCLA
S – Bennie Blades, Miami
S/CB – Ronnie Lott, USC
CB – Jerry Gray, Texas
CB – Rod Woodson, Purdue
The All-Time Defensive Team ...
Tackles: Lee Roy Selmon,
Oklahoma; Chris Zorich, Notre Dame. Two imposing players at big-name
schools who: A) were vital, central cogs in national championship
seasons; and B) have tremendous staying power in the collective memories
of fans who were able to see them play. If you're an enduring legend at
Oklahoma or Notre Dame the way these two players are, that speaks to the
depth of your greatness as a college football player, especially on
Ends: Hugh Green, Pittsburgh; Bubba Smith,
Michigan State. Green's dominance in the late 70s and 1980, plus the
imposing nature of Smith's play, makes this a fierce and forceful
combination of bookend pass rushers.
Linebackers: Tommy Nobis, Texas; Lee Roy Jordan,
Alabama; Dick Butkus, Illinois. Three gamers, three warriors, three
winners. Just contemplating a linebacking corps composed of this
trifecta is enough to inspire reverent silence and open-mouthed awe.
Corners/DBs: Jim Thorpe, Carlisle Indian School;
Charles Woodson, Michigan.
At opposite ends of the 20th century, these two
young men featured tremendous athleticism and playmaking ability on a
notably large scale.
Thorpe has the distinction of being one of the top
three athletes of the 20th century (Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali);
Woodson the honor of winning the Heisman Trophy. This is a pair of
corners that can support the weight of history.
Safeties: Kenny Easley, UCLA; Ronnie Lott, USC.
These two men would make all of LA a lot safer, based on the nature and
trajectory of their decorated college careers, which were rich with
accomplishment... and hard hits.
Punter: Todd Sauerbrun, West Virginia. By far, the
most out-of-his-mind punter I've ever seen at the collegiate level. I
remain dumbfounded that he performed so poorly in the NFL, but in
college, he was nothing short of spectacular... VERY spectacular.