NCAA FB

CFN: 100 Best - No. 89 Jerry Rice

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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. 89: Jerry Rice, WR - Miss Valley St. 1981-1984

On our list of the 100 Greatest College Football Players, no one was tougher to place than Rice. Rice and QB Willie Totten were one of the best pitch and catch combinations in the history of college football, but they didn't do it on the Division I level and that's why Rice is so low. Putting Rice on this list is also a nod to Totten. We looked at Rice as a dominant player who amassed 51 touchdown catches in his career including a sick 28 in 1984 averaging more than 10 catches per game. Obviously he was a superstar and his statistics are great on any level, but was he a better non-Division I player than Walter Payton or Steve McNair (both of which didn't make our list)? Does a I-AA player like Rice deserve mention over a Division I player of superior caliber like Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick who had one unbelievable season and one average one? How about making it over superstar D-I receivers like Peter Warrick or Randy Moss who were dominant against the best competition? (Vick, Warrick and aren't on the list, Moss is.) Would he have numbers anywhere near these if he had gone to a Division I school? It obviously depends on what school he would've gone to, but considering the pro career he had, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt and take his college numbers on their merits. Put Rice on Notre Dame, Michigan or Ohio State, cut his numbers in half and he still makes our list. The numbers don't lie: This isn't a misprint. In 1984, Mississippi Valley State scored 628 points. That's just over 59 points a game with Rice, an auto tech major, catching 112 passes for 1845 yards and 28 touchdowns in 11 games. For his career, Rice caught 310 passes for 4856 yards and 51 touchdowns in 42 games. He averaged two touchdowns per game in his junior and senior seasons. That begs the questions though, if Rice is on the list, why not QB Willie Totten? Totten's senior season numbers ... 358 of 593 for 5043 yards and 58 touchdowns. That's for one season. The acknowledged star: Even though Totten made the offense go, Rice was the acknowledged best player on the team named to every All-American team in 1984 and regarded as a top NFL prospect. Listed in college as 6-3, 200 pounds with an ability to go short, over the middle or deep Rice could do it all. In 1984, he caught 17 passes for 199 yards against Southern, 17 for 294 against Kentucky State and 15 for 285 against Jackson State, the first time they beat them since 1954. He scored 5 TDs twice that year. Not a bad NFL career: A sure-fire first ballot Hall-of-Famer when eligible, we'll go on the record as saying Jerry Rice is the greatest player to ever play pro football. Who's the greatest quarterback of all-time? Montana? Elway? Unitas? Graham? Bradshaw? Marino? How many more could you name? Greatest running back? Brown? Emmett? Simpson? Payton? Sanders? Dorsett? How about defensive player? LT? White? Lilly? Bednarik? Singletary? Greene? Wide receiver ... there's Jerry Rice and absolutely no rational football historian can find someone challenge him. The gap between Rice and a #2 receiver of all-time, Monk? Carter? Hutson? Largent?, is bigger than any "all-time greatest" argument in any sport. He's the NFL's all-time touchdown leader and set a record in a strike shortened season in 1987 with 22 touchdown catches. Honors: Heisman Trophy: 9th in 1984, AP All-American Team - 1984, Blue/Gray game MVP - 1984, Kodak, Sporting News, Gannett News Services, AFWA, SBN, Birmingham World All-American Teams - 1984, Mississippi Valley State's football stadium named after him and Willie Totten.

  • Tagged: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Ohio State, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Rice, Notre Dame

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