You have probably heard the names Linebacker U or Tailback U associated with college football programs with perhaps more than one school proclaiming to be a position U. Which schools truly deserve that distinction?
I used the following criteria to determine which school is truly a position U:
- One can certainly debate how good a player was in college. However, when it comes to being named an All-American, there is no debate. If a player was named an All-American, he had to be very good. Rather than add to a school’s claim of being “position U” with players who weren’t All-Americans, and debate how good they were, such as the University of Miami’s quarterbacks Jim Kelly and Bernie Kosar or Auburn’s running backs William Andrews, Joe Cribbs, James Brooks, Lionel James, and Ronnie Brown, only 1st, 2nd and 3rd-team All-Americans factored into the selection and evaluation process.
- Only a player’s collegiate performance was taken into account and considered, and not what they accomplished as a professional. If a Heisman Trophy winner or an All-American was a bust in the NFL, that doesn’t diminish what they accomplished at the collegiate level. Their performance as a pro does not factor in or influence this selection process.
Also, occasionally a position change occurs for a player from his college to professional career so which position does the school get credit for? For example, should Terrelle Pryor count as a wide receiver for Ohio State? That’s absurd. That’s why only their college career should count towards a being a position U.
In comparing each school’s All-Americans from the past 50 years, obviously some were greater than others. Past and recent greatness as well as consistency through the years are what constitute a school being chosen as a position U.
This is my look at the offensive guard position in my series on which school should be known as Offensive Guard U.
The Clemson Tigers are number six in our countdown to Offensive Guard U and Clemson had 11 guards make All-America in the past 50 seasons. Those players were: Dave Thompson ’70, Joe Bostic ’77-’78, James Farr ’83, Steve Reese ’85, John Phillips ’86-’87, Jeb Flesch ’91, Stacy Seegars ’92-’93, Nathan Bennett ’06, Chris McDuffie ’07, Thomas Austin ’09, and most recently, Tyrone Crowder in 2017.
Ohio State rates a slide edge over Clemson despite having less All-Americans because the Buckeyes have produced four All-Americans in the past eight seasons and Clemson has produced only two in the last 10. Ohio State’s All-America guards the past 50 years were: Jim Stillwagon ’69, Ted Smith ’75, Ken Fritz ’79, Jim Lachey ’84, two-time All-American Rod Murphy ’97 & ’98, Justin Boran ’10, Pat Elfein ’15, Billy Price ’16 and Michael Jordan in 2017.
The Crimson Tide of Alabama is number four on our list for Offensive Guard U. Like Ohio State, Alabama has produced nine All-America tackles the past 50 seasons, six of which were two-time All-Americans, and recently had a run of seven consecutive years, 2008-2014, having a tackle named All-American.
Alabama’s All-American tackles were: Alvin Samples ’68 &’69, maybe the greatest offensive lineman ever in the great John Hannah ’71 and ’72, Bob Cryder ’77, Larry Rose ’87 & ’88, Mike Johnson ’08 & ’09, Barrett Jones ’10 & ’11, Chance Warmack ’11 & ’12, Anthony Steen ’13, and Arie Kouandijo in 2014.
It should come as no surprise that a school that has a history of great running backs would have some outstanding guards and at number three on our list, the USC Trojans fit that bill. The first in the ‘70s was Bill Bain in 1974 and USC would have a guard named All-American in seven of the next 12 seasons. After Bain, it was Pat Howell ’78, then Lombardi Award winner Brad Budde ’79, Ray Foster ’80-’81, Bruce Matthews ’82, and Jeff Bregel in 1985 and 1986. After Bregel, USC’s next All-American guards were Mark Tucker in 1989, Taitsui Lutui in 2005 and Jeff Byers in 2009.
Number two on our list as Offensive Guard U is the University of Nebraska. The Cornhuskers had the second most number of guards make All-American in the past season and Nebraska had 11. The list of Husker All-America guards is as follows: Joe Armstrong ’68, Randy Schleusener ’80, Outland Trophy winner Dean Steinkuhler ’83, Harry Grimminger ’84, John McCormick ’87, Russ Hochstein ’00, Outland Trophy winner Will Shields ’92, Brendan Stai ’94, Aaron Taylor ’97, Tonlu Fonoti ’01 and Spencer Long in 2012.
In the past 50 seasons, no school had more All-America guards than Notre Dame’s 13 and that is why they are Offensive Guard U. The Fighting Irish guards that made All-America the past 50 seasons were: Larry DiNardo in both ’69 and ’70, Gerry DiNardo ’74, Ernie Hughes ’77, Larry Williams ’84, Tim Scannell ’85, Tim Grunhard ’89, Mirko Jurkovic ’91, Aaron Taylor ’92, Ryan Leahy ’95, Dusty Ziegler ’95, Jeremy Akers ’96, Mike Gandy ’00 and two-time All-American Nelson Quenton ’16 & ’17.
Interesting Fact: Texas A&M has not had an offensive guard named All-America for the past 50 years.
John Baranowski is a sports historian and contributor to newspapers, sports publications and sports websites. This and other articles written by him can be found on his blog: https://johnbaranowski.wordpress.com/.