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Greatest college football players of all time: The contenders

Who's the best college football player ever?

Ten players considered to be among the best to play the game (in alphabetical order):

Earl Campbell, Texas

He was a four-time All-Southwest Conference running back and finished his career with 4,443 rushing yards. He had 21 games in which he rushed for 100 or more yards. He was the 1977 Heisman Trophy winner.

Tony Dorsett, Pittsburgh

In four years as a running back at Pitt, he had 6,082 yards and led his team to the 1976 national championship. He won the 1976 Heisman Trophy with 701 first-place votes to Ricky Bell's 73.

Red Grange, Illinois

The running back was nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost" because defenders couldn't catch him. In 1924 he scored four touchdowns in 12 minutes against Michigan (95, 67, 56 and 44 yards) before rushing 21 times for 402 yards in the second half. He played just 20 college games but had 31 touchdowns and 3,362 yards.

Archie Griffin, Ohio State

Legendary coach Woody Hayes called Griffin "the greatest football player I have ever coached." He rushed for 5,589 yards on 924 carries in his four seasons, then an NCAA record. He is the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner (1974 and '75).

Bo Jackson, Auburn

A three-sport athlete who also excelled at baseball and track, Jackson was the 1985 Heisman winner. The running back finished his career with 4,303 rushing yards and averaged 6.6 yards a carry.

Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State

The 1988 Heisman Trophy winner, he set 25 NCAA records and averaged 200 yards per game during the 1988 season. He led the nation in rushing yards (2,628) and all-purpose yards (3,250) and scored 39 touchdowns in that season, all NCAA season records.

Roger Staubach, Navy

He is still considered the greatest quarterback Navy has had. Staubach completed 292 of 463 pass attempts for a 63 percent completion rate and was intercepted only 19 times. He won the 1963 Heisman.

Jim Thorpe, Carlisle

He played halfback for the Carlisle Indian School in 1907-08 and had 53 touchdowns and 421 points in 44 games. He averaged 8.4 yards per carry. In 1912 he led the nation with 29 touchdowns and 224 points. An Olympian in the pentathlon and decathlon in 1912, he was named the greatest athlete of the half-century by the Associated Press in 1950.

Doak Walker, Southern Methodist

A 1948 Heisman Trophy winner as a junior, he was a three-year All-American halfback who scored 303 points and 40 touchdowns, 60 extra points and one field goal in 35 games. Had more than 3,500 rushing and passing yards.

Herschel Walker, Georgia

He set an NCAA record for rushing yards in three seasons with 5,259. He led Georgia to its only national championship and had a three-year record of 32-2. He was the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner.

Antonya English, Times staff writer

Greatest college football players of all time: The contenders 08/08/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 8, 2009 9:26pm]
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