CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Top 20 Players
Who were the top 20 players since CFN started in 1998? No. 12 Colt McCoy, QB Texas
CFN Era Top 20 Players: No. 12 Colt McCoy, QB Texas
CollegeFootballNews.com is turning 20 this season, so we’re looking back on the greatest players, games, coaches and more since we first kicked things off back in 1998.
For the Top 20 Players since CFN started, the rules are simple. Who made the biggest impact, who were the most important, and who were ones who generated the most buzz – for good and bad?
This isn’t necessarily a list of the most talented players – that’s what the NFL Draft is for. Who were the defining players of the last 20 years?
Also, nothing before 1998 counts.
Colt McCoy, QB Texas (2006-2009)
Colt McCoy didn’t come to Texas looking like a legendary Longhorn.
Just 6-1 and 185 pounds and with little speed, the high-octane passer who dominated as a Texas high school star was a decent recruit, but he was hardly a sure thing.
Mark Sanchez was the big get for USC, Ryan Perrilloux was a huge recruit for LSU, and Florida getting Josh Portis and Tennessee landing Jonathan Crompton made plenty of noise. McCoy was simply a nice signing, for the Longhorns in 2005 – as was RB Jamaal Charles.
Texas already had Vince Young at quarterback for another two years – at least, that’s how it looked going into the 2005 season – along with a great-looking talent in Jevan Snead. McCoy might have helped with the depth – that’s all.
How tough was the situation McCoy had to deal with? After redshirting in 2005, he had to be the Next Quarterback Up after Vince Young led the Longhorns to the national title. With a ton of talent returning, Texas wasn’t expected to take too much of a step back, if any, and it was about to start a new guy.
McCoy beat out Snead to take the starting job to open things up against North Texas. There weren’t any problems in the blowout win – he threw for 178 yards and three scores – but it wasn’t quite enough to get ready for Ohio State the week after. The Longhorns lost to the Buckeyes, and while McCoy was okay, he didn’t get the offense moving.
Efficient, if not sensational, he managed to keep the mistakes to a minimum – with just four interceptions the 11 games – as he led the way to a win over Oklahoma, a thriller over Nebraska, and a 9-1 start before getting knocked out early in a loss against Kansas State. He came back to throw three picks in a loss to Texas A&M, but was back to his normal self in the bowl win over Iowa, throwing for 308 yards and two scores.
Good as a freshman, he was great as a sophomore, throwing for 3,303 yards and 22 touchdowns, but he also gave up 18 picks in disappointing 2007 season with another loss to Kansas State, another loss to Texas A&M, and this time around, a loss to Oklahoma.
And then came …
The 2005 national title team was special, and the 2008 team wasn’t all that far off, destroying just about everything in its path on the way to an 8-0 start, highlighted by a wild 45-35 win over Sam Bradford and Oklahoma.
McCoy was close to unstoppable, cutting down on the interceptions and cranking up the efficiency, completing 77% of his throws on the season with 34 touchdowns and eight picks. However, even though Texas beat Oklahoma, in a wild and crazy year for the BCS, a classic shootout loss to Texas Tech kept McCoy and the Longhorns out of the Big 12 title game and out of the national title picture.
Oklahoma went on to lose to Florida in the Orange Bowl for the national title and Bradford won the Heisman. Meanwhile, McCoy finished a close seconding the Heisman voting – losing to Bradford by 122 points, even though he won the head-to-head battle on the field – and finished off the year throwing for 414 yards and two scores with a roughing touchdown in a Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State.
McCoy put off the NFL for another year, even though it wasn’t a slam dunk that he’d be a decent draft pick, unlike Bradford and Florida’s Tim Tebow, who also came back for their senior seasons.
While he had a nice final year statistically- throwing for 3,521 yards and 27 touchdowns with 12 interceptions – he wasn’t quite as good as the 2008 version. It didn’t matter. Texas steamrolled, including a win over Oklahoma on the way to a wild Big 12 championship win over Nebraska to finish 13-0 and play for the national title against Alabama.
McCoy got rocked by Crimson Tide defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, getting knocked out of his final game early on with a shoulder injury, and that was it. The Longhorns tried to fight the good fight with Garrett Gilbert giving it a shot, but without McCoy, they lost 37-21.
Vince Young might be the Gold Standard of Texas quarterbacks, but McCoy in a lot of ways, turned in a stronger overall career. He finished owning just about every Texas passing record, completing over 70% of his passes for 13,253 yards and 112 touchdowns and 45 picks with 20 rushing scores.
While he never won a national title, he got to play in that one and probably should’ve had his shot in 2008. Along the way he won an NCAA record 45 games, won a Big 12 title, and won three big bowl games.
Second in the Heisman in 2008, third in 2009, he might not have taken home the biggest individual prize, but he was a two-time All-American, and in 2009, won the Maxwell, Johnny Unitas and Davey O’Brien awards.
Not bad for that skinny also-ran recruit.
CFN 20th Anniversary lists compiled by Rich Cirminiello, Pete Fiutak, Phil Harrison & Russ Mitchell
Photo credits: University of Texas