A position U is a statistical analysis of which schools produce the most college football talent at each position. The data was compiled from the past five years, with players listed by school and position.
The best position groups in college football 2021 is a question that has been asked many times. Which schools produce the most college football talent at each position?
Three of the starting quarterbacks for the 2021 NFL season will be former Oklahoma Sooners.
Spencer Rattler is the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year, becoming the sixth Sooner quarterback to accomplish it in the last 19 years.
Lincoln Riley and his staff just received a commitment from Malachi Nelson, the 17th-ranked recruit and No. 2 quarterback in the 2023 class, according to ESPN.
These are exciting times at QBU, and Oklahoma has every right to claim that title. Indeed, the Sooners’ advantage over No. 2 USC has widened significantly in only a year, according to ESPN’s third annual Position U database. Greatness comes after greatness. It’s based on the Oklahoma quarterback model.
But, if Oklahoma is QBU, how would you rate the university’s alumni? Is Jason White credited with a national championship? Is Baker Mayfield the rightful heir to the throne for starting this current run of success? Only discussing the greatest QB school is better than debating the best QBs from the best QB school.
Do you think that’s difficult? Pick the top defensive backs from Ohio State or the best offensive lineman from Alabama. The possibilities are endless.
We didn’t just tell you which schools produced the greatest talent at each position on the depth chart for this year’s Position U countdown; we went even further to discover the “Mount Rushmore” of graduates at each position — the best of the best.
How we arrived at our conclusions
Because there is no standard criteria for determining which school provides the greatest prospects for each job, a dozen schools may claim to be DBU. Our Stats and Information staff, on the other hand, put some numbers behind the claims. So, what qualifies a school as a Position U institution? It’s a mix of collegiate accomplishments, draft stock, and NFL success. All-conference and All-America choices get points in our system, which rewards the greatest collegiate athletes. It rewards outstanding NFL assessments by awarding points on a sliding scale depending on where a player is selected.
Then, using Pro Football Reference data, we add extra points for performance during the first five years of a player’s NFL career (after that, credit goes to the NFL trainers and coaches), so that draft busts and late bloomers receive credit as well. Of course, we must include in the transfer portal, which is becoming a bigger factor in the rankings. Our strategy is as follows: awards received in college are the property of the institution where they were received. The last school a player played for is given credit in the draft and in the NFL.
Finally, since the 1950s’ success in producing fullbacks does not always transfer to the contemporary game, we needed to establish a more specific timeframe for inclusion. We began our analysis in 1998, at the start of the BCS era, and only included players who have improved since then.
Jump to a certain position: Running back | Quarterback Wide receiver | Tight end | O-line D-line | Linebacker | Defensive back | Kicker | Punter Wide receiver | Tight end | O-line D-line | Linebacker | Defensive back | Kicker | Punter
Oklahoma Sooners are the champions.
Mount Rushmore for the Sooners’ quarterback
Baker Mayfield is a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Mildren, Jack Heupel, Josh Bradford, Sam
Baker Mayfield aided Oklahoma’s QBU and earned a place on the Sooners’ quarterback Mt. Rushmore. Jae C. Hong/AP Photo
Mayfield is one of college football’s most inspiring tales, having been the first and only walk-on to win the Heisman Trophy. The Oklahoman named him the best Sooner in history, and he placed in the top four of the Heisman Trophy voting three times, including winning it in 2017. Mildren was dubbed the “Father of the Wishbone” by offensive coordinator Barry Switzer, who helped OU usher in a new era, while Heupel similarly sparked Bob Stoops’ Air Raid run, rising from a junior-college transfer to a Heisman winner and national champion in Stoops’ second season. Bradford led the Sooners’ 2008 attack to an average of 51.1 points per game, edging out many other really outstanding Sooners quarterbacks, including Heisman winners Jason White and Kyler Murray, who had a legendary single season as a starter, over a 21-game injury-shortened career. Dave Wilson is an author.
2. University of Southern California 3. The state of Oregon 4. Louisville, Kentucky 5. The state of Texas 6. Florida State University Alabama is ranked number seven. 8. Louisiana State University Clemson is ranked ninth. 10. Auburn University
BYU jumped 24 places on our ranking, from No. 56 to No. 32, thanks to Zach Wilson’s outstanding season. Of course, the Cougars have a long history at the position, dating back to the BCS era, so it’s only natural to see them ascend the list once again. Meanwhile, Alabama has finally cracked the top 10 as Mac Jones, a first-round pick and Heisman contender, followed in Tua Tagovailoa’s footsteps. If Bryce Young lives up to expectations, Alabama may be labeled a quarterback school in the not-too-distant future.
Who isn’t there: Despite a good pedigree that includes Wilson, Philip Rivers, Mike Glennon, Jacoby Brissett, and Ryan Finley, the Wolfpack didn’t make our top 10 despite a solid pedigree that includes Wilson, Philip Rivers, Mike Glennon, Jacoby Brissett, and Ryan Finley. On the plus side, Devin Leary has a promising future, thus the 2022 list may still be salvaged. Meanwhile, Ohio State is ranked 11th, owing in part to their poor NFL record. Perhaps Justin Fields can debunk the myth that the Buckeyes are incapable of producing a star at the next level.
Looking forward: Oklahoma boasts this year’s Heisman Trophy frontrunner in QB Spencer Rattler and recently received a commitment from five-star 2023 recruit Malachi Nelson. Clemson’s QBU resume is also growing, with D.J. Uiagalelei positioned to be the Tigers’ next star at the position and 2022 pledge Cade Klubnik earning MVP honors at the Elite 11.
Returning the Favor
Alabama Crimson Tide is the winner.
Mount Rushmore for the Crimson Tide’s RB
Derrick Alexander, Henry Shaun Ingram, Mark Harris, Najee
Last season, Najee Harris’ strong finish earned him a spot on Alabama’s Mt. Rushmore of running backs. USA TODAY Sports’ Dale Zanine
At No. 1, Henry is an obvious pick, but Ingram, despite winning the Heisman Trophy in 2009, isn’t as well-known as other Crimson Tide running backs. Alexander had a fantastic career in Tuscaloosa, rushing for 3,565 yards and 41 touchdowns, and Harris’ strong finish last season helps him beat over other worthy running backs like Bobby Humphrey, Trent Richardson, Johnny Musso, and T.J. Yeldon. Adam Rittenberg’s remark
2. The state of Wisconsin LSU is third, Miami is fourth, and Oklahoma is fifth. Auburn is ranked sixth, while Texas is ranked seventh, and Ohio State is ranked eighth. Georgia is number nine. Oregon is ranked number ten.
Big movers: Iowa State jumped 38 places in our rankings, from No. 80 to No. 42, thanks to David Montgomery’s NFL success and Breece Hall’s Big 12 dominance. The Cyclones are still a long way from the top 10, but Ezekiel Elliott and J.K. Dobbins have helped Ohio State climb four places to eighth place, knocking Arkansas out of the top 10.
Who’s missing: Notre Dame has a long and illustrious history in college football, particularly at running back. However, the finest of the group — Ricky Watters and Jerome Bettis — were simply too late for our Position U schedule. Since the BCS era began, no Irish tailback has gone on to become a Pro Bowler in the NFL, with Julius Jones being the most prolific player during that time period.
Looking ahead: It’s difficult to see Alabama falling out of first place very soon. While Henry leads the Tennessee Titans’ defenses, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Najee Harris in the first round of this year’s draft, and Alabama has two running backs rated in ESPN’s top 51 committed for 2022.
U-shaped wide receiver
USC Trojans are the champions.
Mount Rushmore is the WR for the Trojans.
Mike Williams is a well-known figure in the Jarrett, Dwayne Marquise Lee Johnson, Keyshawn
Keyshawn Johnson turned his two years at USC into the first overall selection in the NFL draft and an exciting professional career. ALLSPORT/Stephen Dunn
With respect to a few others who have legitimate claims to inclusion, this group represents the Trojans’ greatest mix of skill (Williams and Johnson) and consistent performance (Jarrett and Lee). In two years, Williams caught 30 touchdown passes, while Johnson used his two-year tenure to become the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Jarrett has nine more touchdown catches than any other Trojan in history, with 41. Lee was the only USC athlete to receive the Biletnikoff Award. Kyle Bonagura (Kyle Bonagura)
2. Louisiana State University 3. The state of Oklahoma 4. The state of Alabama 5. Ohio State University 6. Florida State University Oklahoma State is ranked seventh. Florida is ranked number eight. Clemson is ranked ninth. Michigan is ranked number ten.
Big movers: In 2020, DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown developed into genuine NFL players, while Elijah Moore benefited from Lane Kiffin’s offensive system, propelling Ole Miss from 25th to 13th place. Given Kiffin’s explosive passing game from last season, the Rebels are likely to reach the top 10 this season.
Who isn’t there: Texas signed 18 top-tier receivers between 2009 and 2018, a decade of draft-eligible signing classes. None were selected in the first or second rounds, and none were selected to the Pro Bowl. Roy Williams, a first-round pick in 2004 who made one Pro Bowl, was the last impact NFL receiver the Longhorns sent to the professionals.
Looking forward, Alabama’s receiving domination will only grow in 2020, thanks to DeVonta Smith’s Heisman Trophy. As a consequence, the Tide moved from No. 8 to No. 4 in this year’s rankings. But that’s just the start. John Metchie seems to be a rising talent, and the Tide signed a trio of blue chips in 2021, including five-star prospect Jacorey Brooks.
U Tight End
Miami Hurricanes are the champions.
Mount Rushmore for the Hurricanes’ tight end
Shockey, Jeremy Greg Olsen (Greg Olsen) Bubba Franks is a chain of restaurants in the United States. Jimmy Graham is a well-known figure in the
Jeremy Shockey was a standout tight end at Miami, a program renowned for producing NFL players at the position. Getty Images/Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated
Shockey has the perfect college and professional résumé: Winning a national title in college and two Super Bowls in the NFL, not to mention the many personal distinctions he received, including All-America honors, Pro Bowl selections, and entry into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame. Franks, who excelled in the late 1990s, right before Shockey, probably began the Miami TEU tradition. Olsen just retired after a 14-year NFL career, whereas Franks arguably started the Miami TEU tradition. Andrea Adelson’s remark
2. The state of Iowa 3. Stanford University 4. The state of Florida Missouri is number five. Wisconsin is number six. Oklahoma is number seven. Notre Dame (No. 8) Michigan is number nine. UCLA is number ten.
Big movers: Kyle Pitts may be the greatest tight end prospect in years, and he helped Florida climb the rankings this year. Pitts was chosen No. 4 overall by the Atlanta Falcons after an All-America season, making him the sixth Gators tight end taken since 1998. Florida jumped from No. 12 on the 2020 list to No. 4 this year because to Pitts’ performance.
Who’s missing: The difficulties of Ohio State to produce a great NFL quarterback have been well chronicled. The Buckeyes’ problems at tight end are less concerning. Luke Farrell was selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft, following in the footsteps of Nick Vannett (third round, 2016), Jeff Heuerman (third round, 2015), and Ben Harstock (third round, 2014). (third round, 2004). Jeremy Ruckert, on the other hand, seems to be a matchup nightmare in the Big Ten this season.
Looking forward: Notre Dame is now ranked ninth on our list, but the Irish are on the rise. Tommy Tremble was a fourth-round selection this year, while Cole Kmet was a first-round pick in 2020. But, with Michael Mayer set for a breakthrough sophomore season, the best may still be yet to come. He’s already been dubbed “Baby Gronk,” and Notre Dame may soon be vying for the title of Tight End U.
Offensive Line University
Alabama Crimson Tide is the winner.
Mount Rushmore for the Crimson Tide’s OL
Hannah, John Stephenson, Dwight Barrett Jones is a character in the film Barrett Jones Samuel, Chris
John Hannah was a key member of Alabama’s offensive line under Bear Bryant before going on to become an NFL Hall of Famer. Getty Images/Collegiate Images
Paul “Bear” Bryant was serious when he proclaimed Hannah the greatest offensive guard he’d ever coached. Hannah was a two-time All-American who was inducted into both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. After two All-American appearances, two national titles, and five Pro Bowl choices, Stephenson isn’t far behind. While there are a few lineman from the Nick Saban era to select from, Jones’ resume includes earning the Outland Trophy as a junior, moving from tackle to center the following year, and winning the Rimington Trophy. Alex Scarborough’s remark
2. The state of Wisconsin 3. Ohio State University 4. The state of Oklahoma 5. The state of Michigan USC is ranked sixth, while Notre Dame is ranked seventh. Georgia is ranked number eight. Iowa is number nine. Texas is ranked number ten.
Penei Sewell may have opted out of the 2020 season, but his high draft status (No. 7 overall) helped the Ducks jump three spots into the top 25. Brady Christensen became the first BYU offensive lineman to be selected since 2005, propelling the Cougars from 73rd to 58th overall. Texas moved up one place, but it was enough to get the Longhorns into the top ten as the group’s lone newcomer.
Who’s missing: Florida State was well-represented on the offensive line when we originally published this ranking in 2019, coming in at No. 8. In the trenches of Tallahassee, though, the last several years haven’t been kind. On the field, FSU has been plagued by poor offensive line performance, which Mike Norvell is just now starting to correct. For the first time in their history, the Seminoles were ranked outside of the top ten in this year’s poll.
Looking forward: The offensive line has gone mostly unnoticed despite Clemson’s dominance over the last decade. Jackson Carman was chosen in the second round of this year’s draft, the highest for a Tigers offensive lineman since 1971, but the future looks a lot better. The Tigers signed eight blue-chip linemen in their last two recruiting classes, including five-star Tristan Leigh. John Simpson and Tyler Shatley are already proven NFL players, and the Tigers signed eight blue-chip lineman in their last two recruiting classes, including five-star Tristan Leigh. They’ve also committed to two more in 2022.
Defensive Line University
Alabama Crimson Tide is the winner.
Mount Rushmore for the Crimson Tide’s DL
Jonathan Allen is a writer who lives in the United Copeland, John Quinnen Williams Marcell Dareus Marcell Dareus Marcell Dareus Marcell Dareus
How did Marcell Dareus end up on Alabama’s Mt. Rushmore D-line? It didn’t hurt that he returned an interception for a touchdown in the 2010 BCS national championship game. Getty Images/Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos
Since Nick Saban took over in 2007, Alabama has produced ten defensive linemen who have been chosen in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. Allen was the most decorated defensive lineman in the nation his senior year and has 16 sacks in the NFL in the past three years. It’s impossible to mention Copeland without his 1992 national championship team sidekick, Eric Curry, and Dareus and Williams were also great tacklers. And how can you leave Marty Lyons of the New York Sack Exchange off the list? Welcome to Alabama’s plethora of defensive line talent. Chris Low (c)
2. Florida State University 3. Ohio State University 4. Penn State University Clemson (#5) Texas is No. 6 and LSU is No. 7. 8. University of Southern California Tennessee is number nine. Oklahoma is number ten.
Big movers: Alabama defeated Florida State to grab the lead on the rankings. It’s difficult to disagree with Alabama’s success, which includes seven defensive linemen chosen in the first or second round in each of the last five drafts. Pitt has produced the greatest defensive lineman in a generation in Aaron Donald, but the DLU’s resume has grown in 2021 as well, with three guys chosen in the draft. The Panthers jumped 14 places to No. 20 on our ranking as a result.
Who’s missing: Miami is ranked 28th on our list, which is odd since the Canes only took two defensive lineman in the first round of this year’s draft (Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau). However, finding Miami’s last defensive lineman selected in the first two rounds is a tough shot (Calais Campbell, second-rounder in 2008).
Looking forward: This year, Texas A&M just cracks our top 20, but that’s likely to change in the future. The Aggies have signed five of ESPN’s top 30 defensive ends for 2021, adding to an already strong group that features preseason All-SEC tackle DeMarvin Leal.
U of linebacker
Georgia Bulldogs are the champions.
Mount Rushmore for the Bulldogs’ LB
Smith, Roquan Jones, Jarvis Thurman, Odell Culpepper, Knox
Jarvis Jones moved to Linebacker U after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis and informed by the USC medical staff that he would not be cleared to play. He went on to become a two-time first-team All-American at Georgia. Getty Images/Scott Cunningham
Since the BCS began in 1998, the Bulldogs have had eight linebackers chosen in the first two rounds, including four first-rounders. Smith was a consensus All-American as a junior, winning the Butkus Award with 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 612 sacks. Jones only stayed at Georgia for two seasons after transferring from USC, but he made the most of them with a total of 28 sacks. In 11 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts, Justin Houston, a third-round pick in 2011, has 9712 career sacks in the NFL. Leonard Floyd, a 2016 first-round selection of the Chicago Bears, has 1012 sacks last season with the Los Angeles Rams. Edge rusher David Pollack and safety Thomas Davis, two of Georgia’s all-time best defenders, both played a lot of linebacker. — Schlabach, Mark
2. The state of Alabama 3. Ohio State University USC is ranked fourth, while Penn State is ranked fifth. Oklahoma is number six. Michigan is ranked number seven. Clemson (#8) Miami is number nine. Florida is ranked number ten.
Big movers: The top of the rankings stayed virtually unchanged, but Notre Dame moved up three places to No. 14 in our top 25, the largest mover in our top 25. Further down the ranks, Zaven Collins, on the other hand, has managed to put Tulsa on the map. The Golden Hurricane jumped from No. 111 to No. 65 in our rankings after an All-American season that ended in Collins getting chosen No. 16 overall.
K.J. Britt, the highest-drafted Auburn linebacker since Will Herring, was chosen in the fifth round, No. 176 overall, in this year’s selection (161st overall in 2007). Of course, there was only one other Auburn linebacker chosen in that time frame, so it’s hardly a huge deal. The current period of linebackers has been a huge disappointment for a school that produced Takeo Spikes, Karlos Dansby, and Aundray Bruce.
Looking forward: Under defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Clemson has had a strong run at linebacker, with 2020 first-round selection Isaiah Simmons and third-rounder Tanner Muse helping the Tigers climb to No. 8 in our rankings. The Tigers have selected five linebackers in the last six rounds, including blue-chippers Trenton Simpson and Jeremiah Trotter Jr. in recent years.
U of Defensive Back
Ohio State Buckeyes are the champions.
Mount Rushmore for the Buckeyes’ DB
Winfield, Antoine Jack Tatum is a well-known actor. Doss, Mike Jenkins, Malcolm
Malcolm Jenkins, a defensive backfield standout at Ohio State, has spent 12 seasons in the NFL, winning two Super Bowls and being selected to the Pro Bowl three times. Getty Images/Gregory Shamus
Because he struck so hard in the NFL, Tatum earned the moniker “The Assassin.” He was one of Ohio State’s best safeties, twice earning All-American honors, and ultimately being drafted first overall by the Oakland Raiders. He was one of a lengthy line of great defensive backs that played for Ohio State, making it tough to choose only four. Shawn Springs, Mike Sensibaugh, and a few others were possible candidates. The DBU designation is officially valid from 1998 forward, although Ohio State has a long and successful history with this position group. Tom VanHaaren (Tom VanHaaren)
2. Louisiana State University 3. The state of Alabama 4. The state of Florida Miami is number five. 6. Florida State University Texas (#7), USC (#8) Georgia is number nine. Virginia Tech (#10)
Big movers: Oregon is the lone new team in this year’s top 25, jumping three places from last year after four defensive backs were selected this spring, including second-round pick Jevon Holland. Northwestern is still a long way from contending for the DBU championship, but the Wildcats have risen 49 places in our rankings, from No. 120 to No. 71, due to a stellar season from Greg Newsome, who was chosen 26th overall.
Who’s missing: With the exception of running back and defensive back, Texas A&M is ranked in the top 25 at every position. Since Sammy Davis in 2003, the Aggies haven’t had a DB go in the first round. Davis was released after just five seasons in the league, having started only six games from 2005 to 2007.
Looking forward: Pitt is ranked No. 34 on our DBU list, but the Panthers are rapidly improving. Pitt has had five defensive backs chosen in the previous three rounds, including Jason Pinnock and Damar Hamlin last year. Jordan Whitehead and Avonte Maddox, both 2018 draft choices, have developed into starters, with Whitehead winning a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers last season. The pipeline also looks good in the foreseeable future, with Marquis Williams, one of the finest corners in the ACC, set to return in 2021.
The Seminoles of Florida State came up on top.
2. University of California, Los Angeles 3. The state of Iowa 4. The Ohio State Buckeyes Utah is number five, while Nebraska is number six. Memphis is ranked seventh, while Auburn is eighth. Miami is number nine. Florida is ranked number ten.
Texas A&M Aggies are the winners.
2. The state of Utah 3. The state of Tennessee Cal is fourth, while Cincinnati is fifth. Georgia Tech is ranked sixth. 7. Michigan State University Ohio State is ranked eighth. 9. Baylor University Florida is ranked number ten.
Mount Rushmore’s special teams
FSU’s Sebastian Janikowski FSU’s Roberto Aguayo Texas A&M’s Shane Lechler Texas A&M’s Braden Mann
The most offensive lineman in nfl by college is a statistic that shows the schools that produce the most college football talent at each position.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the star position in college football?
The star position in college football is the quarterback.
What position role was viewed as the most important to college football?
In the early 1900s, the quarterback position was viewed as the most important to college football.
What college is known as Linebacker U?
Linebacker U is a nickname for the University of Alabama, which is located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
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