The history of college football has featured many terrific individual seasons by all-time greats. In that elite firm, nonetheless, are some gamers who stood out brighter amongst their elite friends, and whose exploits grew to become somewhat bigger — and, in some instances, the stuff of myths and legends — whilst time handed.
When discussing the impression and scope of college football, it is inconceivable to miss how its largest, brightest stars — the gamers — helped impression the sport. How so? By dazzling us with their play to such a level that, even now, we would swear they may nonetheless play, and dominate the best way they do in our reminiscences and spotlight reels. So spectacular is that this listing that it leaves out the likes of Marcus Allen, Johnny Manziel and Ndamukong Suh, gamers who regardless have rightfully earned a everlasting place in college football lore.
With that stated, Sporting News presents its second in a sequence of lists celebrating college football’s 150-year history: Pulling from one of the best Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans throughout positions over 15 a long time, SN has whittled down college football’s high 10 individual single-season performances in an additional particular decuplet:
CFB 150: Sporting News celebrates 150 years of college football
Honorable mentions: First 5 out
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin, 2014
2,587 dashing yards, 29 dashing touchdowns, 153 receiving yards, three dashing touchdowns
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
3,706 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, 1,410 dashing yards, 21 dashing touchdowns
Steve McNair, QB, Alcorn State, 1994
5,377 passing yards, 47 passing touchdowns, 904 dashing yards, 9 dashing touchdowns
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska, 2009
85 tackles, 12 sacks, 24 tackles for loss
Randy Moss, WR, Marshall, 1997
96 receptions, 1,820 receiving yards, 26 receiving touchdowns, 534 kick/punt return yards
10. Reggie Bush, RB, USC, 2005
Stats: 1,740 dashing yards, 16 dashing touchdowns, 37 receptions, 478 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns, 493 kickoff return yards, 179 punt return yards, punt return landing
Bush was the primary participant to forfeit the Heisman after an investigation into improper advantages did not go in his favor. But though history now reveals a vacated trophy, it might’t erase how particular a contributor Bush was for the Trojans that season, when his crew went 12-Zero earlier than shedding a thriller to nationwide champion Texas in the Rose Bowl. Bush was equally spectacular as an influence again, receiving again and return man, including as much as a blinding all-purpose participant who was a menace to attain each time he touched the ball, both in tight quarters or in the open area.
9. Charles Woodson, CB, Michigan, 1997
Stats: Seven interceptions, 231 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns, one dashing landing, 283 punt return yards, punt return landing
Woodson grew to become the primary — and, so far, solely — defensive participant to win the Heisman Trophy in 1997. Through 2019, he nonetheless stands as the latest non-quarterback, non-running again to get the award. He bought loads of assist from his highlights on offense and particular groups to beat out Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning.
For his work as a defensive again, Woodson additionally swept the Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe awards. In changing into the third Wolverines’ Heisman winner of all time, Woodson saved his greatest clutch performs for the most important moments, serving to Michigan to a 12-Zero report throughout the common season and a share of the 1997 nationwide title with a red-zone interception in the Rose Bowl victory over Washington.
8. Derrick Thomas, DE/OLB, Alabama, 1988
Stats: 27 sacks, 39 tackles for loss, two pressured fumbles, one fumble restoration, 4 move break-ups, one blocked area purpose, one blocked punt
The late nice future Chiefs Hall of Famer started his prolific edge-pass-rushing for the Crimson Tide, placing collectively an absurd 27 sacks in 1988, a part of an equally absurd 52 profession sacks in three seasons in Tuscaloosa. So prolific was Thomas’ edge-rushing prowess that he managed to face out on a defensive entrance that additionally included fellow top-four NFL draft picks Cornelius Bennett and Keith McCants.
While Thomas’ 27 sacks get essentially the most notoriety from that stellar 1988 season, he additionally added 12 non-sack tackles for loss to build up what can be thought-about 39 tackles for loss immediately. Those metrics (27 sacks, 39 tackles for loss) are each greater than the official NCAA data, because it didn’t preserve these stats on the time he performed. Thomas, who gained the Butkus Award and completed 10th in Heisman voting in 1988, additionally was integral to Bama’s win over Army in the Sun Bowl. Thomas additionally holds the report for many sacks in a single NFL recreation with seven.
7. Herschel Walker, RB, Georgia, 1981
Stats: 1,891 dashing yards, 18 dashing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns
Walker had his greatest general season in Athens following up his crew’s 1980 nationwide championship — and earlier than he gained the Heisman Trophy in 1982. His wonderful three-year stretch of dominance which began as a prolific, explosive true freshman All-American needed to be represented right here in some type. Walker completed second in Heisman voting as a sophomore in 1981 and lifted the Bulldogs to a 10-2 report. At 6-1, 215 kilos, one of many most-hyped highschool outcomes ever exceeded expectations for his residence state program as among the best athletes — interval — to step on a college campus. No one has ever translated track-star standing into such speedy working on the sphere so seamlessly.
6. Tony Dorsett, RB, Pittsburgh, 1976
Stats: 2,150 dashing yards, 22 dashing touchdowns, receiving landing
Dorsett put Pitt on his again throughout his Heisman Trophy-winning senior season. He capped off his good Panthers profession by powering his crew to a nationwide championship. The final spike in numbers stamped his three-time All-American profession, in which he rushed for no less than 1,000 yards in all 4 seasons. Dorsett left the sport because the all-time main rusher in NCAA Division I FBS, a mark that would not be topped till Ricky Williams 22 years later.
5. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida, 2007
Stats: 3,286 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns, 895 dashing yards, 23 dashing touchdowns
Tebow, between his Gators nationwide championship runs as a freshman gadget participant and junior venerable chief, grew to become the primary sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy. He was additionally the primary participant in FBS history to provide no less than 20 touchdowns passing and 20 touchdowns dashing in the identical season. He did all that constantly producing in opposition to SEC defenses along with his distinctive mix of measurement (6-2, 236) and pace. Before Newton exploded, Tebow made “touchdowns responsible for” a extra commonplace time period to measure the true MVP value of an elite college QB.
4. Dick Butkus, ILB/C, Illinois, 1963
Stats: 145 tackles, 10 pressured fumbles
Before he did his lasting harm to NFL offensive opponents as a Chicago Bear, Butkus was a two-way, one-man wrecking crew down the street, proper down the center in Champaign. He was a first-team All-American at each heart and inside linebacker to steer the Fighting Illini to an 8-1-1 report and a Rose Bowl victory over Washington. He completed sixth in the Heisman voting, which trying again appears low given how he created his personal model of ferociously taking on video games.
3. Cam Newton, QB, Auburn, 2010
Stats: 2,854 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, 1,473 dashing yards, 20 dashing touchdowns, 42 receiving yards, receiving landing
Newton bought his one SEC likelihood after his troubled time at Florida behind Tim Tebow, and he took full benefit. A bodily dominant pressure at a very powerful place, he was one thing the sport had by no means seen earlier than in such an entire bundle at 6-5, 245 kilos. Faster than most dashing edge-rushers, extra highly effective than most linebackers and in a position to leap defenders in a single sure, he cemented his Superman standing by carrying the Tigers to an undefeated 14-Zero season and a nationwide championship with each his arm and legs.
2. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU, 2019
Stats: 5,671 passing yards, 60 passing touchdowns, 369 dashing yards, 5 dashing touchdowns
Burrow didn’t have one unhealthy recreation in essentially the most prolific mixed scoring season ever for a serious college quarterback. He had full command of the downfield passing recreation, boosted by his footwork and athleticism, to interrupt NCAA single-season data for landing passes (60) and touchdowns liable for (65). That allowed him to run away with the Heisman Trophy as early as LSU’s Nov. 9 win over Alabama, the crew’s first since 2011. His management and toughness additionally delivered a nationwide championship — LSU is barely the second crew in the fashionable period to go 15-0 — as he saved his greatest for the most important video games. He threw 27 touchdowns to solely two interceptions in opposition to a mixed seven top-10 opponents in 2019. That clutch play skyrocketed him to No. 1 general standing for the 2020 draft.
1. Barry Sanders, RB, Oklahoma State, 1988
Stats: 2,628 dashing yards, 37 dashing touchdowns, 515 kick/punt return yards, two return touchdowns
Sanders put collectively a blinding Heisman Trophy-winning season that will probably be arduous for any working again — or some other participant at some other place — to greatest. His report dashing yardage has been challenged by gamers who’ve had extra video games to make a run at it, however it stays one of the unbreakable marks in college football, 31 years later. That’s saying one thing, contemplating the sport’s evolution to extra favor the offense.
The reality Sanders additionally starred on particular groups for the Cowboys, combining for 515 mixed kickoff/punt return yards, coupled with a landing on each kickoffs and punt returns, fast-tracked him to the highest spot. Sanders’ is a method of play that may stand timeless amongst his friends, no matter period.