Honey Badger’s Last Stand: the Best College Football Players of 2011

If you ignore the fact that the National Championship game was about as enjoyable as watching your grandpa clean his glasses with what seems to be the same handkerchief he sneezes into, the 2011 college football season was actually a lot of fun. There were legitimately competitive programs all across the country and it made for a 2011 season that was tight from start to finish. For just the third time in BCS history, no team finished the year unscathed, with Alabama beating LSU in the championship to end their bid at an undefeated season. And while the SEC took home the title for the 6th consecutive year, they weren’t the only conference that had serious talent. Here are the top five players from the 2011 college football season…

5 Case Keenum – QB, Houston

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You might not know who Case Keenum is, but Conference USA defensive coordinators sure do. Quarterbacking for the remarkably potent Houston offense, Keenum led the nation in nearly every passing category, including completions, completion percentage, yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns and passer efficiency rating. The explosive Cougars finished the season with a 12-1 record and Keenum finished his career with the NCAA records for yards, completions, and touchdown passes. So where did all this college success land Mr. Keenum? As an undrafted member of the Texans practice squad. Damn, that is just depressing.

4 Tyrann Mathieu – CB, LSU

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There’s not much Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu didn’t do in 2011. Which is good since he didn’t have much of a 2012, but we’ll get to that. The undersized corner was not only a key defensive piece for SEC Champion LSU, but he was a demon on punt returns too. Mathieu notched 76 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2 interceptions, while forcing a ridiculous 6 fumbles and returning 2 of them for touchdowns. He also led the SEC in yards per punt return (17.2) and took 2 punts back for touchdowns, all adding up to a stellar 2011 season that earned him the Chuck Bednarik Defensive award and a spot as a Heisman finalist. Yes, Tyrann Mathieu’s 2011 was unforgettable, unlike his 2012, which he’s apparently just been trying to forget by smoking a whole lot of drugs.

3 Trent Richardson – RB, Alabama

The departure of Mark Ingram for the NFL meant that Richardson was now the feature back at Alabama, and Trent didn’t miss a beat. He led the SEC in attempts, yards and touchdowns, with his 1,679 yards setting an Alabama record and his 21 rushing touchdowns marking the most ever by an SEC running back. Richardson finished third in the Heisman voting and won his second National Championship in three years, then declared early for the NFL Draft. Yes, everything was coming up Trent… then he got sent to Cleveland. The lesson here? Stay in school kids.

2 Andrew Luck – QB, Stanford

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After coming in second place in the Heisman voting the year before, 2011 was supposed to be Andrew Luck’s year. He was the highest rated quarterback going into the season and he didn’t disappoint. Luck led the Pac-12 in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and passer efficiency rating while leading the Stanford Cardinal to an 11-2 record and a BCS bowl. He posted career bests in passing yards (3,517) and passing touchdowns (37), but unfortunately, he only tied his career best in Heisman voting finish. Yeah, he came up short thanks to yet another mobile quarterback having a monster year and edging him out. More like Andrew Bad-Luck… ZING!!!

1 Robert Griffin III – QB, Baylor

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Before he was selling us five-dollar sandwiches (with a noticeably underwhelming amount of meat on them), RG3 was making a statement during his senior year at Baylor, and that statement was: “Hey, I’m really good at football” (or something to that effect). In 2011 Griffin led the Big 12 in completion percentage, passer efficiency rating, and passing touchdowns, and led the nation in passing yards per attempt. He was personally responsible for 47 touchdowns, and more than 5,000 yards between passing, rushing, and receiving. His Baylor Bears finished 10-3, and Griffin deservedly took home the Heisman, along with the AP Player of the Year, Big 12 Player of the Year, the Davey O’Brien Award, and we think he might have even won a technical Emmy in sound achievement. The guy can do it all.

And that about does it. Those are the top five players from the 2011 college football season. And if you don’t think Case Keenum should have made the cut, well, maybe you should stop judging and see if you can make the Texans practice squad. Yeah… that’s what we thought.

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