Greatest Group of Five Football Players of All Time

Greatest Group Of Football Players:- In the world of college football, legends are often born in unexpected places. Imagine a quarterback who shattered records in the heart of Group of Five football and then became an NFL powerhouse, rewriting the narrative of what it means to be a true football genius. Now picture a running back with lightning speed and the brute strength to bulldoze through defenses, turning the spotlight on his humble Group of Five origins. These are just glimpses of the extraordinary stories we’ll explore in this article, where we delve into the remarkable careers of the greatest Group of Five football players of all time.

Before we embark on this journey through football excellence, let’s first clarify what “Group of Five” football entails. In the college football landscape, Group of Five refers to the athletic conferences that operate outside the Power Five conferences – the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC. While they may not always be in the national spotlight, Group of Five conferences have produce some of the most exceptional and underrated talent in the sport.

Their players exhibit skill, dedication, and determination that often rival or even surpass those from the Power Five. These players have left indelible marks on the sport, and our goal is to celebrate their achievements. The purpose of this article is two-fold. First, we aim to recognize and celebrate the outstanding talents within Group of Five football, shining a well-deserved spotlight on players whose achievements are sometimes overshadowed.


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Best Group Of Football Players Overview

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Greatest Group of Five Football Players of All Time

Introduction to Group of Five Football

The landscape of college football brims with stories of unyielding determination, unmatched skill, and the unspoken triumphs that unfold beyond the arenas of the Power Five conferences. Group of Five football, often overlooked in the national limelight, holds its significance. It’s a realm where players thrive against the odds, where underdogs rise, and where exceptional talents craft their legacies. These conferences – the American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt – form the nucleus of Group of Five football, a breeding ground for extraordinary talent that has, time and again, left an indelible mark on the sport. Their impact and achievements, though not always in the national spotlight, are undeniable and deserving of recognition.

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Player Profiles

American Athletic Conference (AAC)

Charlotte: Alex Highsmith, Linebacker

  • Born: August 7, 1997 (Wilmington, North Carolina)
  • Career Highlights: Two-time All-Conference USA (2018, 2019), AP All-American (2019)
  • Notable: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round, led the NFL in forced fumbles in 2022, and signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension.

East Carolina: Robert Jones, Linebacker

  • Born: September 27, 1969 (Blackstone, Virginia)
  • Career Highlights: AP All-American (1991), Butkus Award finalist (1991), three-time Super Bowl champion (1993, 1994, 1996), Pro Bowl (1994)
  • Notable: Finished career with 478 tackles, led ECU to a historic season in 1991, the first ECU player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Florida Atlantic: Harrison Bryant, Tight End

  • Born: April 23, 1998 (Macon, Georgia)
  • Career Highlights: John Mackey Award (2019), AP All-American (2019)
  • Notable: Won the John Mackey Award in 2019, first non-Power Five player to do so, joined the Cleveland Browns and made the All-Rookie Team in 2020.

Memphis: DeAngelo Williams, Running Back

  • Born: April 25, 1983 (Wynne, Arkansas)
  • Career Highlights: Three-time Conference USA Player of the Year (2003-2005), AP All-American (2005), NFL All-Pro (2008), Pro Bowl (2009)
  • Notable: Rushed for over 1,900 yards in his last two seasons at Memphis, finished his college career with 6,749 all-purpose yards, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2023.

Navy: Roger Staubach, Quarterback

  • Born: February 5, 1942 (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Career Highlights: Heisman Trophy (1963), Super Bowl MVP (1972), NFL 1970s All-Decade Team
  • Notable: Won the Heisman Trophy, led Navy to a 1 vs. 2 Cotton Bowl matchup, enjoyed an 11-season NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys, winning two Super Bowls.

North Texas: Mason Fine, Quarterback

  • Born: April 19, 1997 (Peggs, Oklahoma)
  • Career Highlights: Two-time Conference USA Player of the Year (2017, 2018)
  • Notable: Set North Texas records for career passing yards, touchdown passes, pass completions, and pass attempts, currently playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League.

Rice: Jarrett Dillard, Wide Receiver

  • Born: December 21, 1985 (San Antonio, Texas)
  • Career Highlights: NCAA career record holder for 60 receiving touchdowns
  • Notable: Finished career with 292 receptions for 4,138 yards, played three NFL seasons before attending law school.

SMU: Eric Dickerson, Running Back

  • Born: September 2, 1960 (Sealy, Texas)
  • Career Highlights: Two-time AP All-American (1981, 1982), NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1986)
  • Notable: Finished college career with over 4,000 rushing yards, played 11 NFL seasons, holds NFL records for single-season rushing yards and rookie rushing yards, member of the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

USF: George Selvie, Defensive End

  • Born: March 6, 1987 (Pensacola, Florida)
  • Career Highlights: Two-time AP All-American (2007, 2008), Big East Defensive Player of the Year (2007)
  • Notable: Set multiple USF career records, and played six seasons in the NFL for five different teams.

Temple: Joe Klecko, Defensive Tackle

  • Born: October 15, 1953 (Chester, Pennsylvania)
  • Career Highlights: Two-time AP All-American (1975, 1976), NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1981)
  • Notable: A dominant player with a strong college and NFL career, elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2023.

Tulane: Shaun King, Quarterback

  • Born: May 29, 1977 (St. Petersburg, Florida)
  • Career Highlights: Super Bowl champion (2003), two-time Conference USA Player of the Year (1997, 1998)
  • Notable: Led Tulane to an undefeated season in 1998, and was the first player in NCAA history to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in a game.

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Tulsa: Zaven Collins, Linebacker

  • Born: May 19, 1999 (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
  • Career Highlights: AP All-American (2020), multiple prestigious college awards
  • Notable: Exceptional performance in 2020, won various awards, outstanding statistics in just eight games due to the pandemic-shortened season.
Conference Player Born Career Highlights
UAB Roddy White Nov. 2, 1981 NFL All-Pro, Four-time Pro Bowl, UAB career records
UTSA Marcus Davenport Sept. 4, 1996 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year
Florida International T.Y. Hilton Nov. 14, 1989 Sun Belt Player of the Year, Four-time Pro Bowl
Jacksonville State Eric Davis Jan. 26, 1968 NFL Super Bowl champion, Two-time NFL All-Pro
Liberty Malik Willis May 25, 1999 Dudley Award, Leading Liberty to AP Top 25 in 2020
Louisiana Tech Willie Roaf April 18, 1970 AP All-American, NFL Pro Bowl 11 times, HOF member
Middle Tennessee Kevin Byard Aug. 17, 1993 Two-time NFL All-Pro, Ballhawk at Middle Tennessee
New Mexico State Larry Rose III Sept. 9, 1995 AP All-American, Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year
Sam Houston State Jeremiah Briscoe Aug. 15, 1993 Two-time Walter Payton Award winner
UTEP Seth Joyner Nov. 18, 1964 Walk-on to superstar at UTEP, Super Bowl champion
Western Kentucky Brandon Doughty Oct. 6, 1991 Two-time Conference USA MVP, Record-setting QB
Akron Jason Taylor Sept. 1, 1974 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Pro Football HOF
Ball State Greg Garnica Unknown Three-time MAC Defensive Player of the Year
Bowling Green Kory Lichtensteiger March 22, 1985 Four-time All-MAC, 9 seasons in the NFL
Buffalo Khalil Mack Feb. 22, 1991 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Central Michigan Dan LeFevour March 19, 1987 MAC MVP, NCAA record holder for touchdowns

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The selection of distinguished players from different universities across various conferences in collegiate football highlights the talent and diversity of athletic accomplishments in college football history. Each player brought unique skills and achievements, contributing to their respective schools and shaping their careers both in college and professional football.

From setting records to earning prestigious awards, these athletes demonstrated excellence in their positions, some even transcending their collegiate success to impactful careers in the NFL. The diverse paths and backgrounds of these players—from walk-ons to record holders—show the varied routes to success and the impact of perseverance and hard work in the world of sports.


Who are some of the greatest Group of Five football players of all time?

This question could be answered by highlighting a list of iconic players such as Marshall Faulk from San Diego State, Khalil Mack from Buffalo, Randy Moss from Marshall, Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan, etc.

Answering this question might involve discussing stats, awards, and their impact on the game. Criteria could include All-American status, conference accolades, statistical records, and influence on their respective teams.

How do the achievements of Group of Five players compare to Power Five athletes?

Explaining this might involve discussing the disparity in exposure, resources, and opportunities. It's about showing that despite competing with fewer resources, Group of Five players can excel and make a significant impact

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