And much like colorful, chewy, taffy-like candy, college football was at a high point in the 90s too. It was exciting, competitive, and featured some of the best athletes the sport had ever seen. Here are the top five college football players from the 1990s…
5 Randy Moss – Marshall University, WR (1996-1997)
Thanks to race riots and drugs, Randy Moss played only two years of college football. Yeah… that’s not a joke. Prior to his freshman year, Moss lost his eligibility at Notre Dame due to his involvement in a “racially charged fight” in his high school, and after that he went to FSU, quite briefly, since he quickly tested positive for marijuana and was kicked out. He eventually landed at Marshall, where Moss absolutely dominated, racking up 2,720 yards and 44 touchdowns in just two short years, and scoring a TD in ever single game he played at Marshall (28). He was a consensus All-American and Biletnikoff award winner in ’97, the same year he placed 4th in Heisman voting. Essentially, Marshall recruiters were smart enough to see that whatever Randy Moss lacked in general decision-making skills, he more than made up for with amazing hands and blazing (perhaps the wrong word) speed.
4 Orlando Pace – Ohio State University, OT (1994-1996)
You know you’re a serious force in football when they name a move after you. And that’s exactly what happened with Orlando Pace in the mid-90s, when the term “pancake block” came to refer to him knocking defensive linemen on their asses. Pace was so impressive that he started from his very first game as a freshman at Ohio State and never looked back. He went on to become a consensus All-American in ‘95 and ‘96, and finished 4th in the Heisman voting in ’96, the highest finish for a lineman since 1980. Orlando Pace was simply one of the greatest to ever protect the quarterback, allowing zero sacks in his final two years at OSU, and earning Ohio Stadium the nickname of “The International House of Pancake Blocks” (not really, but that would’ve been cool).
3 Peyton Manning – University of Tennessee, QB (1994-1997)
Coming out of high school, there was a ton of hype surrounding Peyton Manning, and he didn’t disappoint. Peyton started his career as the SEC Freshman of the Year at Tennessee, and got better with each passing season. For his career, Peyton went 39-5, threw for 89 touchdowns, 11,201 yards and 863 completions. He was up for the Heisman three years in a row, narrowly losing out to Charles Woodson in ‘97, when he was also a consensus All-American and SEC Player of the Year. Manning would eventually go on to fulfill the potential all of the Vols faithful knew he had, becoming a sneaky-funny pitchman for 97 different products.
2 Tommie Frazier – University of Nebraska, QB (1992-1995)
Frazier was hampered by health issues and was never drafted into the NFL, but in college football lore he remains one of the greatest to ever play. As a starter at Nebraska, Frazier went 33-3, won back-to-back National Championships, and played in three straight undefeated regular seasons. He was a consensus All-American, winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, and came in second in the Heisman voting in 1995. Frazier was a true double threat, throwing 44 touchdown passes and rushing for 38 more in his career as a Cornhusker, giving this guy something to cheer about while he patiently waited to part ways with his virginity.
1 Charles Woodson – University of Michigan, CB (1995-1997)
Charles Woodson did everything but cheerlead for Michigan, and we’re not positive he wasn’t on the bottom of some pyramid. Woodson played corner, returned punts and played receiver during a 12-0 season in 1997, leading the Wolverines to a share of the National Championship. He was a consensus All-American in ’97, winning the Heisman (still the only true defensive player to win), winning the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and took home every single award with a dead or almost-dead guy’s name on it including the Bronco Nagurski, Chuck Bednarik, Jim Thorpe, and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards. For his career, Woodson had 18 career interceptions, 562 offensive yards and 5 touchdowns. Also, we’re fairly sure he piloted the team plane to the ’97 Rose Bowl.
There you have it, the best five players of 1990s college football. They were ambassadors of the game, legendary athletes, and guiltless viewers of Saved By The Bell (because who the hell wasn’t watching that in the 90s?).
Think we missed anyone? Throw together a list of your own. Just make sure you include the necessary amount of 90s pop culture references, or it won’t count.