NCAA FB

CFN: 100 Best - No. 34 Charles Woodson

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Some were amazing players, some revolutionized their positions, some were legends, and some we just think were truly great. Yes, there was a bias towards players who played in the bigger conferences and against the biggest teams, but we also give a nod to the best who weren't in the spotlight as well. You can consider this the list of the college football careers as we give high marks to the legends.

How do you possibly pick an offensive lineman over a quarterback? It's tough, but our friends at the CollegeFootballNews.com we tried to make the call in regards to how good of a player they were without necessarily giving more credit to one position over another. Think of it this way, if you could take one running back, who would you take? You couldn't go wrong with Walker, Dorsett, Williams, Simpson, Dayne or about 20 other backs. Now if you had to pick one center, who would you go with? There are very few who stand out.

No. 34: Charles Woodson, DB/WR/KR - Michigan 1995-1997

Let's dispel with this notion right now. Charles Woodson didn't win the Heisman Trophy because of his defensive abilities. He should have, but he didn't. Woodson won the 1997 Heisman because of his highlight kick returns and receptions to go along with his breathtaking interceptions. Had he stayed on the defensive side full-time, there would've been no way he would've won the award as the voters just aren't that progressive. However, as just a defensive player, he was the best college football player in 1997 and one of the greatest defensive backs to ever play the game with a peerless combination of quickness, tackling ability and athleticism. He was as great an all-around player as college football had ever seen and few had his flair for the dramatic. Just ask Ohio State as Woodson, as a freshman, shut down Buckeye star WR Terry Glenn and he picked off two passes. The 1997 Ohio State game: Marching toward the national title, Woodson was the difference staying on the field for 83 plays in the 20-14 win over the No. 4 Buckeyes. He clinched the Heisman with 78-yard punt return for a score and his interception in the end-zone snuffed out a late Buckeye drive. The all-around athlete: Out of high school, Ohio's Mr. Football traveled north after racking up 5,996 yards of offense in his three seasons amassing 2,028 total yards and scoring 230 points as a senior (he scored 466 points in his career.) He ran the ball (for 3,861 career yards) and returned punts and kicks, but his real talent was on the defensive side of the ball as the top rated defensive back in the Midwest. At Michigan, he started in his second game as a true freshman and never came out of the lineup, was the Big Ten freshman of the year and first team All-Big Ten according to the coaches picking off five passes. In his junior year, Woodson set a Michigan record with 15 broken up passes as he was a finalist for the Thorpe AND the Biletnkoff Awards. Woodson caught 11 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score. Forget the stats, it was his presence that made the difference as defenses freaked out whenever he entered the game and took the focus off the other receivers. Even with a star like Tai Streets on the offense, when Woodson was on the field, he was the best receiver Michigan had. 1997: Even with everyone knowing all about him and hardly ever throwing his way, Woodson 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 national title. The pro career: As the fourth pick in the draft by the Oakland Raiders, Woodson has been widely renowned as one of the top, if not the top, defensive back in the NFL and a regular Pro Bowler. Honors: Heisman Trophy - 1997, Jim Thorpe Award Winner - 1997, Walter Camp Player of the Year - 1997, Bronko Nagurski Award - 1997, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year - 1996, 1997, First Team All-Big Ten - 1995, 1996, 1997, First Team All-America - 1996, 1997.

  • Tagged: Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Western Michigan, Ohio

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