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 tackle position in my series on which school should be known as Offensive Tackle U.
There are only four schools that had 14 or more offensive tackles named All-American in the last 50 years. In fact, the next closest school after those four is Michigan with 11 and Michigan’s list of All-America tackles is worth mentioning.
Michigan’s list of All-American tackles is impressive with Dan Dierdorf in 1970, Paul Seymour ’72, Bill Dufek’76, Ed Muransky ’81, William Paris ’81, John Elliott ’86-’87, Greg Skrepenak ’90-’91, John Runyan ’95, Jon Jansen ’98, Jake Long in ‘06 and ‘07 and most recently three-time All-American Taylor Lewan ’11-’13. Surprisingly, none of their All-America tackles won the Outland Trophy or the Lombardi Award.
Ohio State had 10 All-American tackles and slightly rates ahead of Michigan as two Ohio State tackles were Outland Trophy winners and amongst the best that ever played their position. That would be two-time All-American John Hicks ’72 & ‘73, the Outland and Lombardi Award winner in 1973 in which he finished second in the Heisman voting. The other was two-time All-American Orlando Pace ’95 & ’96 who won the Outland Trophy in 1996 and the Lombardi Award twice, in 1995 and 1996.
Ohio State’s other tackles to make All-American in the past 50 seasons were: Dave Foley ’68, Rufus Mayes ’68, Kurt Schumacher ’74, Chris Ward ’76 & ’77, Korey Stringer ’93 & ’94, Jack Mewhort ’13, Taylor Decker ’15, and Jamarco Jones in 2017.
With those impressive lists to be only numbers five and six on our list as Offensive Tackle U, that shows you the separation between the top four schools for Offensive Tackle U and the rest of college football.
Texas had its share of two-time All-American tackles beginning with Bob Wuensch ’69 & ’70, Jerry Sisemore ’71 & ’72, Robert Simmons ’74 & ’75, Jonathan Scott ’04 & ’05 and Justin Blalock ’05 & ’06. The other Longhorn All-American tackles were: Bob McKay ’69, Terry Tausch ’81, Blake Brockenmeyer ’94, Jay Humphrey ’98, Leonard Davis ’00, Mike Williams ’01, Tony Hills ’07, Adam Ulatoski ’09 and Connor Williams in 2016.
Notre Dame matches Texas number of All-America tackles with 14 and tops the Longhorns with an Outland Trophy winner. Notre Dame’s list of All-America tackles is: George Kunz ’68, Jim Reilly ’69, John Dampeer 72, Steve Sylvester ’74, Tim Foley ’79, Mike Shiner ’83, Larry Williams ’83, Andy Heck ’88, Lindsay Knapp ’92, Outland Trophy winner Aaron Taylor ’93, Mike Rosenthal ’98, Zack Martin ’12, Ronnie Stanley ’15, and two-time All-American Mike McGlinchey ’16 and ’17.
Having 1,000-yard rushers seems to be an annual event for the University of Wisconsin and it comes as no surprise that the Badgers have a long list of All-American tackles and are second on our list as Offensive Tackle U with 15 All-America tackles. Beginning with two-time All-American Dennis Lick in ’74 and ’75, then Ray Snell ’79, Jeff Dellenbach ’84, Paul Gruber ’87,
Joe Panos ’93, Jerry Wunsch ’95, Aaron Gibson ’98, Chris McIntos ’99, two-time All-American Joe Thomas ’05 and ’06, Outland Trophy winner Gabe Carimi in 2010, Rick Wagner in 2012, Rob Havenstein in 2014, Ryan Ramczyk in 2016, and David Edwards in 2017 and Michael Dieter in 2017 as well. Wisconsin keeps producing All-America tackles with a Badger tackle named All-American in six of the last eight years.
After seeing the list of Wisconsin All-America offensive tackles and that’s second, well whichever school is Offensive Tackle U must be very impressive, and it is. It is not surprising that a school that has produced multiple Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks and running backs like USC has would have great offensive tackles as well. Offensive Tackle U is USC.
From 1969 to 1982, in 10 of those 14 seasons, the Trojans had an All-American tackle. Beginning with Sid Smith in 1969, Marv Montgomery in ’70, John Vella ’71, Pete Adams ’72, Steve Riley ’73, Booker Brown ’74, Marvin Powell in ’75 and ’76, Keith Van Horne ’80 and Don Mosebar in 1982, it seemed like a given that a Trojan tackle would be an All-American.
Dave Cadigan was another Trojan All-American tackle in 1987 but the best was yet to come in Tony Boselli in 1992 and he was an All-American again in 1994, Jacob Rogers in 2003, and then Sam Baker was another two-time All-American in 2005 and 2006, Charles Brown in 2009, and Matt Kalil in 2011 and the most recent Trojan tackles to make All-American were Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler in 2016 for a grand total of 17 in the past 50 years. That is why USC is Offensive Tackle U.
Interesting Fact: Nebraska has not had an offensive tackle named All-America since Zach Wiegert in 1994.
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/.