Top 10 college football players of the 1990s


As NFL Network continues to celebrate '90s week, College Football 24/7 takes a look at the 10 greatest players from the 1990s. Criteria here eliminated NFL careers as a factor. We focused more on value to team, and dominant play over at least two seasons. Raw statistics were also a consideration.

10. Charlie Ward, QB, Florida State


The most dynamic dual-threat quarterback of the decade, Ward led Florida State's first national championship team as a senior in 1993 and won a landslide victory in the Heisman Trophy balloting that year. He passed for more than 3,000 yards and had a TD-INT ratio of 27-4 as a senior. Over his two years as a starter, Ward threw for 5,747 yards and rushed for another 910, accounting for 59 touchdowns.

9. Desmond Howard, WR, Michigan


In three seasons in Ann Arbor, Howard won three Big Ten titles and a Heisman Trophy, catching an incredible 19 touchdown passes in his final year. He also averaged 14.1 yards per punt return, including a legendary touchdown that produced one of the sport's most iconic photographs. Howard is in the College Football Hall of Fame.

8. Dre Bly, DB, North Carolina


Bly either intercepted or broke up an incredible 47 passes in his UNC career, and was the best man-to-man cornerback in the country in leading the Tar Heels. He intercepted an ACC-record 20 passes in his career, including a record 11 in a single season, and was the ACC's first three-time All-American. UNC finished ranked in the top 10 twice in his three years there. Bly is one of the College Football Hall of Fame's newest members.

7. Warren Sapp, DL, Miami


In his last college season, as a junior, Sapp made 84 tackles, an unheard of total for a defensive tackle, with 10.5 sacks as the nation's most dominant defender. He started as a freshman and made 39 stops that year, breaking into one of the nation's deepest defensive line rotations immediately. A member of the UM Hall of Fame, Sapp was known for both high effort and candid opinions.

6. Charles Woodson, DB, Michigan


Woodson is the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy, although it took a couple of side roles (return specialist, wide receiver) to get him fully noticed as the nation's best player. He intercepted 18 passes and broke up another 30 in three seasons, setting the stage for an outstanding pro career. Woodson also saved his best play for the biggest games, as Ohio State fans might be pained to recall.

5. Orlando Pace, OL, Ohio State


Pace did not allow a sack in his last two college seasons at left tackle for the Buckeyes, dominating defensive fronts on a weekly basis to win the Outland Trophy twice. The term "pancake block" was coined for Pace by the Ohio State media-relations staff as it counted his knockdown blocks at 80 during his junior and final season. The College Football Hall of Famer started all 38 games of his career.

4. Ron Dayne, RB, Wisconsin


The former Badgers star had two seasons of 2,000-plus rushing yards and finished his career with a whopping 7,125, including bowl games (official stats did not include bowls at the time). Dayne-led teams won three bowl games for the Badgers, including back-to-back Rose Bowl wins over Stanford and UCLA. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1999 and is in the College Football Hall of Fame.

3. Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee


The Volunteers legend made 45 starts at UT, including eight as a true freshman, and amassed 11,201 passing yards in his career with 89 touchdown passes. A consensus first-team All-American in 1997, Manning was a Heisman Trophy runner-up that year and broke every passing record in school annals. He was 40-5 as a starter in his career and had 18 300-yard passing games.

2. Danny Wuerffel, QB, Florida


Of all the impressive things that can be said about Wuerffel's career, one that strikes hardest is that he won four straight SEC titles. History isn't kind to first-year SEC quarterbacks, particularly when it comes to winning the league title. Wuerffel won a national championship with the Gators in 1996, beating archrival and No. 1-ranked FSU in the Sugar Bowl, 52-20, with three touchown passes to Ike Hilliard and a fourth on a 16-yard run. He eclipsed 10,000 passing yards for his career, was a two-time first-team All-American and took home a Heisman Trophy.

1. Tommie Frazier, QB, Nebraska


Frazier compiled a 33-3 record as a starter in his career, leading the most dominant title team of the decade. In 1994, a blood clot sidelined him for NU's last seven regular-season games, and he returned to beat Miami 24-17 in the national championship game. The next year, he ran for 199 yards against Florida to win his second national title in a legendary 62-24 thrashing.

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