Athlon looks at the 10 greatest players since 1967.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive end from Caldwell, Idaho, is one of the great defensive players in school history. He was a two-time first-team all-conference selection (2010, WAC and 2011, Mountain West) and finished his illustrious career by starting 37 consecutive games. McClellin was a part of one of the winningest senior class in NCAA history by posting a 50-3 record over his four-year career. He posted 130 total tackles, 20.5 sacks and 33 tackles for a loss over his 49 game career. He also proved his versatility by intercepting four passes and returning one 36 yards for a score in 2010. The stabilizing force for the Broncos defensive line for the better part of four seasons was selected with the No. 19 pick by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft — making him only the fourth BoiseState player ever drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft (Ryan Clady, Doug Martin and Kyle Wilson).
Statue of Liberty and marriage proposals aside, Ian Johnson will go down in Boise history as one of the most productive players to ever suit up for the Broncos. All told, Johnson carried the ball 752 times (strangely, the identical number of carries as another talented RB on this list) for 4,184 yards – good for second-best in school history. His 25 rushing scores in 2006 are second-best and his 58 total rushing TDs rank first in school history. His 1,713 yards in ’06 are a single-season school record. His 4,953 career all-purpose yards were good for fourth all-time in school history. The Broncos were 44-7 in Johnson’s four seasons at Boise State. And, of course, he scored the most important two points of his career — and in Boise State history — when he took the Statue of Liberty hand-off and raced around the left end and into NCAA history in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma. Five seconds later, he was engaged to be married to long-time girlfriend and BSU cheerleader Chrissy Popadics.
A local product from Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho, Potter is a key member of a senior class of Broncos that will go down in school history as one of the best classes in NCAA history. He played on four teams that combined to go 50-3 and was a three-time first-team All-Conference performer protecting quarterback Kellen Moore. The 6-foot-6, 295 pounder missed only four games in his 53-game career and ended as an All-American as a senior.
It didn’t take long for Broncos fans to realize how good Wilson would be. As a redshirt frosh, Wilson capped a freshman All-America season by making 10 tackles in the historic 2007 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma. As a sophomore, Wilson earned second-team all-WAC honors after 41 tackles, two INTs, a sack and blocked kick. In 2008, he led the team in INTs (5), passes broken up (10) and passes defended (15) as a junior. He also scored on three punt returns (33 returns for 470 yards) and was awarded All-America honors by several publications. As a senior, Wilson led the team to a second unbeaten season in his four-year tenure and playing a huge game against TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl win. Boise went 49-4 in his time on campus. Wilson was selected with the 29th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.
As a redshirt sophomore, Zabransky took over the Boise offense and led the Broncos to an 11-1 record in 2004. Despite a tough start against Georgia in 2005, Zabranksy still started all 13 games, leading Boise State to a 9-4 record (with losses to Oregon State, UGA, Fresno State and Boston College). As a senior, Zabransky topped his career with an unbeaten 13-0 record and memorable performance against Oklahoma in the historic 2007 Fiesta Bowl win – where the QB earned Offensive MVP honors. His 66.3% completion rate was a single-season school record at the time. He finished with a fourth-best 144.99 career QB rating, a fourth-best 8,256 passing yards and fourth-best 58 TD passes.
As a redsirst freshman, Clady started 11 of 13 games in 2005. After several All-America awards, Clady switched to left tackle for 2006 and started all 13 games, helping lead the Broncos to a historic unbeaten season and Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma. He started every game as a junior in 2007 and was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He has become one of the league’s elite backside protectors in only a few seasons.
As a two-time All-American, Minter set the single-season rushing record for Boise as only as sophomore when he posted 1,526 yards in 1978 (later broken). As a senior, Minter became the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,475 yards – a mark that still stands today. His 37 career rushing TDs were a school record at the time and are still good for third-best today. Minter helped lead the 1980 Broncos to the I-AA National Championship.
If it were not for No. 1 on this list, Dinwiddie would go down in Boise history as the greatest quarterback in school history. Boise owned a 33-6 record with Dinwiddie as the quarterback, and he left school with his name atop every major passing list in school history. His 9,819 career yards were a school record. His 82 career TD passes were a school record. His 4,356 yards in 2003 are still a single-season record. His 532 yards against Lousiana Tech in 2003 are a school record. The most impressive marks from Dinwiddie were his efficiency, however. He set an NCAA record with a career QB-rating of 168.79 (later broken), and his 188.18 QB-rating in 2003 is a school record - and technically is better than Colt Brennan's recognized 186.0 NCAA QB-rating record.
This two-time All-American is the only Boise State Bronco to be inducted into the NCAA Football Hall of Fame. The monster defensive lineman dominated Big Sky competition and earned the 1981 Defensive Player of the Year honors. He helped lead the Broncos to the I-AA 1980 National Championship and was drafted in the ninth round of the 1982 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.
There is little more a coach or fan base can ask of a quarterback than what Moore accomplished during his time at Boise State. He is the winningest quarterback in NCAA history and became the first signal caller to reach 50 wins (50-3). He never missed a game in his career, and if it wasn't for Case Keenum, would have thrown more touchdown passes than any player in NCAA history. His finished with 142 passing touchdowns for his career against only 28 interceptions. He was second in the nation in QB-rating as a sophomore (161.65), led the nation in QB-rating as a junior (182.63) and finished third nationally during his final season (175.19). He rewrote the Broncos record book by tossing a total of 14,667 yards, also the fifth highest total in NCAA history. He owns school and conference records for career and single-season touchdown passes and completions as well as six of the top 10 single-game passing outputs in program history. His 16 career 300-yard games are a school record and he led his team to three conference championships and won three conference player of the year awards (WAC in 2009 and 2010, Mountain West in 2011). There is no hole on the 2010 Heisman Trophy Finalist's resume as it is impossible to truly evaluate Moore's overall value to the Boise State program.
Down 29-24 to Eastern Kentucky in the I-AA championship game and facing a fourth down and less than 0:10 to play from the Colonel 14, quarterback Joe Aliotti rolled right and threw back across the field to a wide-open Duane Dlouhy in the end zone to give the Broncos a 31-29 win and the national championship.
Sophomore Jared Zabransky threw for three TDs and ran for another to lead Boise State to a 53-34 win over visiting Oregon State, giving the Broncos their first-ever win over a Pac-10 school. The triumph avenged a loss to the Beavers a year earlier and extended BSU’s winning streak to 13 games, a string they would eventually push to 22.
Eight months later, with the nation still not convinced of Boise State’s prowess, despite the Fiesta win, the Broncos traveled across the country to whip Virginia Tech in northern Virginia, 33-30. Kellen Moore’s third TD pass of the game, a 13-yarder to Austin Pettis with 1:09 left, secured the victory and further established BSU as a national power.
Tied 10-10 with Texas Christian in the fourth quarter of the Fiesta Bowl and facing a fourth-and-nine from its own 33, Boise State got tricky again. Punter Kyle Brotzman threw a 30-yard pass to tight end Kyle Efaw on a play called “The Riddler,” prolonging a drive that ultimately ended in Doug Martin’s two-yard TD run in a 17-10 victory.
After years of modest success, the Broncos earned a Fiesta Bowl berth and upset heavily favored Oklahoma. Trailing 35-28 with less than a minute left, the Broncos used a hook-and-lateral play to earn the tying touchdown. After spotting the Sooners a TD in overtime, BSU pulled within one and then shocked everyone by lining up for a two-point conversion. Quarterback Jared Zabransky faked a pass and hands the ball to Ian Johnson on the Statue of Liberty play. Johnson waltzed into the end zone to give Boise State a 43-42 win and then proposed to his girlfriend, a BSU cheerleader.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback from Bakersfield (Calif.) Christian followed in his brother’s, David, footsteps by excelling as one of Fresno State’s greatest players. With one year left to go, the younger Carr should easily rewrite the FSU passing record book. Carr earned Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year honors after posting a conference-record 4,104 yards and 37 touchdowns a year ago. He is the highest-rated passer in school history (150.6) and is a modest 2,863 yards and 21 touchdowns from claiming the school’s all-time marks in those categories.
Hailing from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, Pope was a hard-hitting safety for the Bulldogs. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder was a three-time All-Big West first-team selection and two-time conference defensive co-MVP. He was drafted with the 33rd overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft by San Diego, and put together a 10-year pro career.
From a statistical standpoint, few Bulldogs have been as productive as the San Diego (Calif.) Madison running back. The diminutive 5-foot-7 tailback consistently overachieved, rushing for a school-record 4,647 yards and finishing No. 2 all-time with 37 touchdowns. His 110 catches were 13th all-time in school history as well. The talented runner posted three straight 1,100-yard seasons and posted 1,008 career offensive touches during his illustrious Bulldogs career.
After a stellar senior season in 2012, the Bakersfield (Calif.) High safety became the first player in Fresno State history to be a unanimous All-American. He led the nation and set a new Mountain West record with eight interceptions in 2012 — three of which he returned for touchdowns. He finished with 178 total tackles, 17.0 tackles for loss, 13 interceptions, six forced fumbles and 4.0 sacks during his four-year, 39-game Bulldog career.
Yet another star prospect from Bakersfield, Calif., to play at Fresno State, Mathews was one of the most talented players to ever suit up for the Bulldogs. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder is third all-time with 3,280 yards rushing and has the school record for rushing touchdowns with 37. His 1,808 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2009 were single-season school records and, had he stayed around for his senior season, Mathews likely would have been the school's all-time leading rusher despite Robbie Rouse’s prestigious career. He was the 12th overall pick by the San Diego Chargers in the 2010 NFL Draft.
A big-time prospect from Aptos, Calif., Dilfer became a starter for the Bulldogs as a redshrit freshman. He went on to win at least a share of three conference championships and started in two bowl games. As a junior, Dilfer earned WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors and set an NCAA record for consecutive passes without an interception (271) that lasted until 2007. He left school with single-season record for yards and touchdowns (later broken). He set a record for most yards in a bowl game (523) and led Fresno to a historic win over USC in the Freedom Bowl. Dilfer was a first-round pick by the Bucs, won a Super Bowl with the Ravens and has already had his number retired at Fresno.
The nasty blocker from Catheys Valley (Calif.) Mariposa started all 14 games as a redshirt freshman, blocking for David Carr and allowing just two sacks. He was a freshman All-American and started all 14 games as a sophomore before tearing his ACL as a junior. He returned as a senior and started all 14 games in 2004 and didn’t allow a sack. He was first-team All-WAC and was the first offensive lineman in school history to win the team MVP honors. The five-time Pro Bowler has played in two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots after being selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
One of the greatest blocking fullbacks in NFL history began his football career as a running back for Fresno State. His 2,405 yards were second all-time when he left (sixth now). The Hanford, Calif., native was a two-time All-Big West selection and actually placed seventh nationally as a heavyweight NCAA wrestler. The 5-foot-11, 250-pounder was a fourth-round pick by the Saints in 1993. Neal went to four Pro Bowls and played 16 seasons at one of the toughest positions for seven different NFL teams. He is one of the most underrated players of his generation.
A track star from Fresno, Calif., Ellard starred at his hometown school for four seasons. The undersized wideout — 5-foot-11, 170 pounds — set an NCAA record with 1,510 yards as a senior and left school as the all-time leading receiver in every major category. His 2,947 yards are now third all-time while his 25 touchdowns are still tied for the school record. He averaged an absurd 21.4 yards per catch during his time at FSU. The three-time Pro Bowler was drafted in the second round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He played 16 seasons in the NFL, finishing with 814 receptions for nearly 14,000 yards and 65 touchdowns.
A Bakersfield (Calif.) Stockdale prospect, the older Carr brother started for just two seasons at Fresno State (2000-01). He led the team to an 18-8 mark, a top-10 AP ranking and consistently defeated bigger, more powerful programs. He threw for a ridiculous and nation-leading 4,299 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2001, earning the Johnny Unitas and Sammy Baugh Awards as well as WAC Offensive Player of the Year honors. He finished fifth in the Heisman voting and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. While he has developed into a pro star, he is still active and has thrown for 14,452 yards and 65 touchdowns in the pros.
Spring practice has ended, here are all the key injuries, personnel decisions and storylines
Depending on your point of view, spring practice is either a respite from the football-free months of winter and a taste of things to come in August. On the other hand, it’s only appealing to the hardcore football fan.
Sure, there’s the same questions every year -- is my team’s defense really good or is the offense really bad, or vice versa. But there’s also plenty of news and notes.
Who are the greatest college running backs of the BCS era?
Greatness is defined in so many different ways. Statistical production, individual awards, team success, longevity, supporting cast, level of competition, raw talent and athletic ability all factor heavily in determining overall greatness. Sometimes, you simply know greatness when you see it.
So all factors were considered when trying to determine who the greatest running backs of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 50 ball carriers since the BCS was implemented in 1998:
Kliff Kingsbury is a rising star in the coaching ranks.
It seems every college football season has an active coaching carousel at the end of the year. Athletic directors are always looking for the next big thing, and there is no shortage of coaches looking to make the jump to a top-tier BCS program.