(WTNH)–Welcome in to the Greatest College Football Players Tournament, where we’re looking to determine the Grandaddy of the Gridiron in the past 25 years. (Ahem. Keith Jackson voice).
Stop pinching yourself. It’s real.
Our first round is just getting underway, so check our index for the bracket and matchups as they are posted.
BARRY SANDERS REGION
7. Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee (1994-97)
He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but thanks to some big-game struggles (sound familiar?), Manning earns just a 7-seed in our tournament. There’s no doubt that Peyton was an all-time great at Tennessee. His 11,201 career passing yards and 89 touchdowns (against 33 picks) prove that. Manning was a consensus All-American in ’97, won the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s best quarterback, won the Maxwell and Johnny Unitas awards and captured the SEC Player of the Year.
He also finished second in Heisman Trophy voting (to Charles Woodson), and led the Vols to 40 wins in his four years in Knoxville, including an 11-1 mark in 1995.
But Manning lost to Florida all four years he played against the Gators, and suffered a loss at Memphis that doomed the Volunteers’ title hopes in 1996.
10. David Pollack, DE, Georgia (2002-04)
Though he might not look it now as an analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay, David Pollack was one of the best defensive players ever to line up in the SEC.
The three-time first-team All-American (2002-04) and two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2002 and 2004), was absolutely dominant during his time in Athens. If you need visual proof of just how great Pollack was, this incredible strip sack/interception in the end zone against South Carolina should do just fine.
That play epitomized Pollack was at Georgia. The defensive end also won the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Ronnie Lott Trophy and the Vince Lombardi Award in 2004. For his career, Pollack finished with 29 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 16 games. His Bulldogs won 34 games in his three years, including a 13-1 season in ’02 that culminated in a No. 3 ranking in the final polls.