It’s a good thing that whole Y2K thing didn’t play out. Otherwise we would’ve missed out on some serious college football talent. Assuming that the nuclear fallout and fire raining from the sky would’ve been a hindrance on the nation’s top programs, true fans (at least those that survived) would’ve been left searching for entertainment while Eric Berry ate canned beans in a bomb shelter and rats feasted on the charred carcass of Matt Leinart.
Luckily though, the world as we know it didn’t come to an end with the millennial changeover and as a result, fans were spared the horror of an existence without quality NCAA football. Instead we enjoyed a decade of flourishing talent, the best of which are listed below. These are the top five college football players of the 2000s…
5 Ndamukong Suh – University of Nebraska, DT (2006-2009)
Before he was stomping on opposing teams (literally) in the NFL, Ndamukong Suh was tearing it up for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Over his time in Nebraska, Suh notched 24 career sacks and 215 tackles. But it was a dominant 2009 senior season in which Suh truly came into his own, earning consensus All-American honors, finishing 4th in the Heisman voting, and becoming the first defensive player to win the AP College Player of the Year award. Translated into his parents’ native tongue, Ndamukong means “House of Spears,” but if you ask quarterbacks who stared him down in college, it loosely translates to “Pants of Crap.”
4 Ed Reed – University of Miami, S (1999-2001)
This is a tough one, since Ed Reed’s career at Miami was split between the 90s and 2000s, but frankly, we were afraid that if we didn’t give him his due, he’d tackle us through a wall. Ed Reed absolutely filled up the stat sheet in his time as a Hurricane, setting school records for interceptions and interception yards, and earning All-American honors in 2000 and 2001. Reed was also a huge part of Miami’s 2001 National Championship, when he led the NCAA in interceptions, took home the Big East Defensive Player of the Year award, and appeared in a whopping 85% of Florida State Seminoles’ nightmares.
3 Reggie Bush – University of Southern California, RB (2003-2005)
Reggie Bush was so talented, that his leaving school in 2005 was still affecting USC football in 2011. Wait… what? Oh, that’s because he accepted illegal benefits that somehow warranted the punishment of the program years later? Well, in any case, the guy was still ridiculously good when he was there. While at USC, Reggie was part of two National Championships, a two-time consensus All-American, and was a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, winning once (if only temporarily). Bush left after his junior season, having led the NCAA in rushing yards per attempt and total yards from scrimmage, eventually going on to lead the NFL in girlfriend ass.
2 Vince Young – University of Texas, QB (2003-2005)
During his time in Texas, Vince Young was simply a winner. That isn’t exactly how his pro career has played out, but lucky for him that doesn’t factor in here. As the Longhorns starting QB, Young finished his career with a 30-2 record, leaving as the school’s all-time leader in wins. He also held the UT record for completion percentage, and was top five in touchdowns, rushing yards, and total touchdowns. Young’s status was defined in 2005, when he led the Longhorns to a National Title in a legendary Rose Bowl win over USC. Young also finished 2nd in Heisman voting that year, losing out to Reggie Bush, who would later surrender it to no one.
1 Tim Tebow – University of Florida, QB (2006-2009)
Long before he was ruining Sportscenter with copious amounts of unwarranted coverage or making awkward Super Bowl commercials with his mom, Tim Tebow was absolutely dominating college football. And as difficult as it may be for Tebow-haters to hear, he was easily the best player of the decade. Tebow won two National Championships, was in the running for the Heisman three times, winning it once, and rewrote the record books in his time as a Gator. Following his senior season, Tebow left Florida as the SEC’s all-time leader in passing efficiency, completion percentage, and rushing touchdowns. Proving once and for all that in college, you don’t have to be good at your actual position, you just have to be good.