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CBSSports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd:
Look who didn't make it.
Matt Leinart didn't make it -- a Heisman winner who directed two national championships. LaDainian Tomlinson was a mere second-teamer. All L.T. did was rush for the fifth-highest single-season total in history (2,158 yards in 2000), and rumor has it did OK in the NFL.
Miami has led the world in first-round draft choices, 26 to be exact since 2000. Twenty-two of those elite Hurricanes didn't make it.
Oklahoma had two Heisman-winning quarterbacks. Nada for each. Thanks for playing, Jason White and Sam Bradford.
At least one Roy Williams made it -- Oklahoma's rock-hard defensive back. Texas' spectacular receiver with the same name didn't.
As if they aren't ticked enough in Austin these days, Vince Young didn't make the list. Young was perhaps the best athlete of the decade, the sixth-winningest quarterback in history. Once again, not good enough.
It is an elite club, this CBSSports.com all-decade team. With a season left in The Golden Decade, it is time to recognize on the players who made it that way.
Did we say elite? Some of the best players in the sport's history passed through the sport since 2000. The fact that a large chunk of those Miami first-rounders didn't make it says more about how great the program is than about their exclusion. We only have 24 spots, so all the Hurricanes couldn't make it onto the first team.
• Central Florida's Kevin Smith came within 26 yards of Barry Sanders' single-season rushing record. A distant memory from 2007.
• With apologies to first-teamers Dwight Freeney and David Pollack, TCU's Tommy Blake might have been the best defensive end if he finished his career. Blake's senior year descended into an unfortunate abyss while he fought depression.
• Boise State won more often than anyone in the decade. Zippo mention here. That's more a salute to the Broncos' coaches this decade -- Dirk Koetter, Dan Hawkins and Chris Petersen -- than a slight at the players.
• Four of the top five passers of all time have played this decade. None of them made the team.
• The selection process was especially hard at receiver and linebacker. There was an abundance of great ones this decade.
It's hard to argue against Michael Crabtree and Larry Fitzgerald, but it's also hard to forget USC's greats alone -- Dwayne Jarrett, Mike Williams and Steve Smith. Or Rice's Jarett Dillard, who obliterated the career touchdown record. His 60 touchdown receptions surpassed the previous mark by 10.
That's why this list is elite. Many on our all-decade team have a chance to become all-time greats.
QB: TIM TEBOW
CBSSports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd: How competitive is Tim Tebow? Not as competitive as his sister Katie. "It doesn't matter what we're playing, she'll win," he said. Still, one of the lasting images from '08 is Tebow launching himself into the special teams huddle late into the SEC Championship Game. It worked, as it usually does when Tebow launches himself into things. As a freshman, he took to his backup role with zeal. Chris Leak was trying to learn Urban Meyer's zone read. Tebow had it down pat. College football hadn't seen the jump pass since the '40s until Tebow pulled it out against LSU in '06. We got the full treatment in Tebow's first year as a starter. He accounted for 55 TDs in winning the Heisman. A second title followed in '08. The best QB of the decade was Matt Leinart with legs, a lefty Vince Young. Maybe that's not doing him justice. Tebow has a sense for the right play at the right time. Even when the defense knows what is coming.
RB: ADRIAN PETERSON, DARREN McFADDEN
CBSSports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd: Darren McFadden thought his career was over. The Arkansas running back was screaming into a cell phone that he was sorry. On the other end was coach Houston Nutt. McFadden almost severed his toe trying to break up a fight outside a Little Rock bar in the summer of '06. With the season starting in less than two months, there was no way he would be ready, much less run for almost 1,700 yards. But McFadden was ready and Arkansas football was never the same. Because of his experience as a high school QB, McFadden became the Wild Hog, taking snaps in the shotgun. The tactic even spread all the way to the NFL. The Hogs rode D-Mac to the '06 SEC Championship Game. Not bad for a guy who thought his career was over. The all-decade backfield were familiar with Heisman teases. McFadden was the runner-up in '06 and '07. Adrian Peterson might have been the best freshman runner of the decade, finishing second in the '04 Heisman voting.
WR: MICHAEL CRABTREE, LARRY FITZGERALD
CBSSports.com College Producer J. Darin Darst: Larry Fitzgerald, who earned the '03 Biletnikoff Award and Walter Camp Award, was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy after finishing the year with 87 catches for 1,595 yards and 22 touchdowns. He finished his career with 161 receptions for 2,677 yards and 34 TDs. He still holds the NCAA record with at least one touchdown in 18 consecutive games. Michael Crabtree, who is the only two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award ('07 and '08), had one of the greatest seasons ever by a freshman, catching 134 passes for 1,962 yards with 22 TDs (all NCAA freshman records). He was named the CBSSports.com Freshman of the Year. The next season, Crabtree had 97 catches for 1,165 yards and 19 touchdowns, including the game-winner in the upset victory over No. 1 Texas. He earned numerous All-American honors for a second straight year and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
TE: KELLEN WINSLOW, JR.
CBSSports.com College Producer J. Darin Darst: Critics will point to Kellen Winslow scoring only one touchdown in '03, but the tight end was a beast during his sophomore and junior seasons at Miami. In '02, Winslow completed the most productive receiving year by a Miami tight end, catching 57 passes for 726 yards and eight touchdowns. The next year he had 60 receptions for 605 yards and beat out Florida's Ben Troupe and Pittsburgh's Kris Wilson for the Mackey Award, giving to the best tight end in the nation. His most memorable catch was a leaping grab over a defender on a fourth-down play, setting up the game winning field goal vs. West Virginia. One thing that doesn't show up in the statistics was Winslow's blocking ability. At 6-feet-5, 245 pounds, Winslow helped block for Willis McGahee and Frank Gore. He was such a good blocker the Hurricanes used their All-American tight end on punt returns.
OL: GREG ESLINGER, ROBERT GALLERY, BRYANT McKINNIE, JAKE LONG, JAMMAL BROWN
CBSSports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd: Robert Gallery was too good to be true. Actually, they all were, the five offensive linemen on the all-decade team. Gallery, perhaps Iowa's greatest lineman, won the Outland Trophy in '03. That began a run of three consecutive all-decade linemen winning the award. Oklahoma tackle Jammal Brown followed in '04. Brown was followed by Minnesota center Greg Eslinger. The 6-foot-7 Gallery did not allow a sack in his career. Eslinger was part of a team that produced Minnesota's career passing leader (Bryan Cupito) and No. 2 career rusher (Laurence Maroney). Even more impressive than Miami's Bryant McKinnie winning the '01 Outland was his Heisman vote total. McKinnie finished eighth. Michigan's Jake Long might be Lloyd Carr's best offensive lineman.
DL: JULIUS PEPPERS, DAVID POLLACK, GLENN DORSEY, DWIGHT FREENEY
CBSSports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd: Coaches will sell their souls for them -- interior defensive linemen who can blow up a line, and speed rushers off the edge. Glenn Dorsey did OK for a guy who never quite felt right his senior year. Dorsey, LSU's All-American defensive tackle, said he has tweaked something in a leg working out the previous offseason. Then, during the season a couple of Auburn lineman "high-lowed" Dorsey, who sprained his knee. Instead of getting angry, Dorsey got better. Dwight Freeney was the decade's quintessential pass rusher. In only two seasons, he piled up 30.5 sacks, setting a school record with 17.5 sacks in his senior season. Julius Peppers ended his career with 30.5 sacks and was a two-time All-American. David Pollack became a three-time All-American ('02-'04) at Georgia, winning the Bednarik, Lombardi, Hendricks (twice), compiling 36 sacks and 283 tackles.
LB: A.J. HAWK, ROCKY CALMUS, JAMES LAURINAITIS
CBSSports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd: In this decade, Ohio State seemed like a linebacker factory. A.J. Hawk gave way to Jim Laurinaitis, the understated son of a former pro wrestler. Laurinaitis was the thinking man's linebacker, getting himself in the right position, while Hawk blew up plays. Even when Hawk left for the NFL he would come back to campus when possible to tutor the guy who was taking over. Oklahoma's Rocky Calmus gets the slight nod over Ted Lehman as the best Sooners linebacker this decade. Calmus was the spiritual center of the '00 national champions, the defense of which still stands as Bob Stoops' best in Norman. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables called Calmus the most instinctive player he has ever seen. The linebacker is a Sooner through and through. He grew up in football hotbed Jenks, Okla., admiring Brian Bosworth -- as a linebacker, not off the field.
DB: ROY WILLIAMS, SEAN TAYLOR, ED REED, TERENCE NEWMAN
CBSSports.com College Producer J. Darin Darst: Ed Reed headlines this group after becoming a two-time All-American in '00 and '01. He led the nation in interceptions with nine in '01 and ended his career as the school's all-time leader. Sean Taylor was an All-American in '03, being named a finalist for the Thorpe Award and earning Big East defensive player of the year honors. He tied a single-season record with 10 INTs, including a stretch of one in four consecutive games. Roy Williams, who will forever be known for leaping over the line vs. Texas, was a two-time All-American ('00 and '01), won the '01 Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award, while setting school records in tackles for a loss by a defensive back. Terence Newman played every game in four years at Kansas State, having his best season in '02. He was an All-American, earned Big 12 defensive player of the year honors along with the Thorpe Award.
ST: MIKE NUGENT, DANIEL SEPULVEDA
CBSSports.com College Producer J. Darin Darst: Kicker was one of the toughest positions to choose with guys like Nate Kaeding, Mason Crosby and Alexis Serna all playing in the decade, but the voters decided on one of the best long distance kickers. Ohio State's Mike Nugent booted 72 career field goals, including 21 from beyond 40 yards. He also hit 8 of 9 from 50+ yards. Nugent won the Lou Groza Award in '04 after hitting 24 fields, including 12 from beyond 40 yards. In '02, he hit 25 of 28 field goals, including 10 of 11 from 40-49 yards. As for Sepulveda, he is the first player in history to win the Ray Guy Award twice ('04 and '06), which is awarded to the best punter in the nation. He earned first-team All-America honors in '06 and was second-team in '05. In '06, he led the nation with a 46.5-yard average and ended his career with the third-best average in NCAA history and best overall with at least 250 punts.
RET: REGGIE BUSH
CBSSports.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd: How deep was the talent this decade? We had to wedge in Reggie Bush as the returner. No matter who you think of his character given the current NCAA investigation, Bush was right there with Tim Tebow as player of the decade. My lasting imagine of the decade comes from the L.A. Coliseum in '05. USC had just beaten UCLA 66-19. Bush had just rushed for 260 yards in what would be his final regular-season game. Outside in the stands, his parents were lobbying for him to turn pro early. In the lockerroom, Bush shook his head in disgust. Across the room were a strapping high school senior and his dad on a recruiting visit. One superstar on his way out, another one on his way in. Two all-decade players together for one shining moment. Tim and Bob Tebow smiled.
2ND TEAM QB: Matt Leinart; RB: LaDainian Tomlinson, DeAngelo Williams; WR: Calvin Johnson, Charles Rogers; TE: Heath Miller; OL: Shawn Andrews, Alex Barron, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Andre Smith, Joe Thomas
DL: Elvis Dumervil, Tommie Harris, John Henderson, Terrell Suggs; LB: E.J. Henderson, Derrick Johnson, Paul Posluszny; DB: DeAngelo Hall, Michael Huff, Troy Polamalu, Derrick Strait
K: Nate Kaeding; P: Ryan Plackemeier; RET: Ted Ginn, Jr.