While players like Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster will represent Alabama in the upcoming NFL draft, not every player is from a big school. Some guys, like wide receiver Cooper Kupp, are from smaller schools. However, this doesn’t mean they’re not going to be great. Pro bowler Derek Carr and reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack both went to smaller schools, and they’ve been awesome. Here’s the All-Small School team.
The All-Small School Team
Quarterback- Brett Favre
This one was obvious, you know Brett Favre is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, but did you know he went to the University of Southern Mississippi? One of the most statistically brilliant quarterbacks in NFL history didn’t go to Michigan, Tennessee, or Ohio State. He went to University of Southern Mississippi.
Running back- Walter Payton
The first of two running backs from small schools is Sweetness himself, Walter Payton. Payton is considered by many to be one of the best running backs of all time, retiring with the NFL’s career records for rushing yards and touchdowns. Payton didn’t go to a big school though, he played his college football for Jackson State University. He and teammate, Robert Brazile remain the only first NFL round picks in Jackson State history.
Running back- Marshall Faulk
One of the most dynamic running backs in NFL history was also from a small school. The wildly versatile Marshall Faulk went to San Diego State University. You can tell it’s a small school when it’s named after a state that doesn’t exist. Faulk is easily the most impressive football player from San Diego State, but the school has also produced a few head coaches. John Madden, Joe Gibbs, Don Coryell, John Fox, Sean Payton, and Brian Billick are also from San Diego State.
Wide Receiver- Randy Moss
Be honest. If you hadn’t seen “We Are Marshall”, would you know where Marshall University is? Maybe if you’re a sports nut, but even you might not know that Randy Moss is an alum. Moss was an elite NFL talent and next year, he’ll probably take his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Moss isn’t the only star receiver to be from a small school, however.
Wide Receiver- Terrell Owens
What is there to say about Terrell Owens that hasn’t been said a thousand times. Some people loved him, some people hated him, but everyone can agree that he was a Hall of Fame talent. He’s still top ten in almost every receiving category, but he didn’t go to a big school. He went to University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Wide Receiver- Jerry Rice
Surprise. Number’s one, two, and three on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards list are from small schools. Owens and Moss you might’ve known, but did you know Jerry Rice is also from a small school? Jerry Rice went to Mississippi Valley State, and he was arguably the greatest player, let alone receiver in NFL history.
Tight End- Shannon Sharpe
Go find a map. Look for the United States. Find the state of Savannah. Could you? No, because it’s not a state. However, Savannah State University is where Shannon Sharpe went to college. That didn’t stop him from catching 815 passes for 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns as a part of three Super Bowl championship teams, cementing his legacy as one of the NFL’s best receiving tight ends in history.
Honorable Mention- Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates went to Kent State University, but he didn’t play football, so while he was a better tight end than Sharpe, he’s not really eligible for this list.
Defensive Lineman- Jared Allen
Everyone remembers Jared Allen, right? Eight double-digit sack seasons, including a 20 sack season, and a memorable celebration. What you might not remember is where he went to school. He went to Idaho State. Yeah, Idaho State.
Defensive Lineman- Deacon Jones
Did you know that over the course of two 14 game seasons, Deacon Jones had 43 and a half sacks? It took the likes of J.J. Watt 16 games just to come close, and Jones had 22 sacks in 14 games. Unbelievable. Where did this amazing pass rusher go? Mississippi Valley State, just like Jerry Rice.
Defensive Lineman- Ed “Too Tall” Jones
It’s a shame that Ed “Too Tall” Jones played before sacks were officially recorded. The 6’9 defensive lineman registered either 57.5 or 106 sacks in his time with the Dallas Cowboys, and he helped Big Blue win Super Bowl XII. He also went to Tennessee State University. No, not the University of Tennessee, Tennessee State.
Defensive Lineman- Michael Strahan
Michael Strahan registered 141.5 sacks over the course of his 15 year career, and played a huge part in the New York Giants preventing New England’s undefeated season. The Hall of Famer terrorized Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks for years, but did you know he’s from Texas? Not the University of Texas, Texas Southern University. Phew.
Linebacker- Chuck Bednarik
Chuck Bednarik was an old school kind of player. How old school? He was a stud linebacker and center. He dominated at two positions, was a ten time All-Pro and he helped the Philadelphia Eagles win two championships. That’s right, he won championships for the Eagles. And where did the former first overall pick go? Penn. Not Penn State, just the University of Pennsylvania.
Linebacker- Brian Urlacher
This might seem crazy, but Brian Urlacher, one of the best linebackers over the last 15 years, went to the University of New Mexico. Urlacher is easily the most decorated linebackers in NFL history, winning both the Defensive Rookie and Player of the Year awards, along with several All-Pros and Pro Bowl appearances.
Linebacker- Willie Lanier
Willie Lanier is one of the most underrated players in NFL history. The star linebacker was some variation of an All-Pro from 1968 to 1975, and it was his defense that helped the Kansas City Chiefs win their only Super Bowl. Despite being arguably the greatest player in Chiefs history, Lanier didn’t go to a huge school. Lanier was a graduate of Morgan State.
Corner- “Old Man Willie” Brown
The image of Willie Brown returning an interception in Super Bowl XI with the call, “Olllld mannn Willie!” playing in the background is iconic for Oakland Raiders fans. But did you know that the Hall of Fame corner came from a small school? He went to Grambling State University.
Corner- Dick “Night Train” Lane
Dick “Night Train” Lane holds two bizarre records. He set the record for most consecutive games with an interception (six), and despite playing before the passing era, he set the record for interceptions in a season with 14. And keep in mind, that wasn’t during a 16 game season. Where did Night Train go to school? Scottsbluff Junior College. Talk about small schools.
Safety- Larry Wilson
Larry Wilson epitomized toughness and loyalty. He never experienced a playoff game as a member of the Chicago or St. Louis Cardinals, but he always stuck around. He played through injuries as well, once playing and then infamously intercepting a pass with two broken wrists. He was a six-time All-Pro, a eight-time Pro Bowler, and a defensive player of the year. And to think, he only went to the University of Utah.
Safety- Rodney Harrison
Rodney Harrison was fined more than any other player in NFL history. He played with such a ruthless mean streak that you had to hate him if he wasn’t on your team. Despite the pro player that he would become, Harrison was only a fifth round pick out of Western Illinois University. That didn’t stop him from having a very productive career, including playing a crucial role in the New England dynasty.
Kicker- Adam Vinatieri
Adam Vinatieri is probably going to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If Morten Anderson can get in, they certainly have room for one of the most clutch kickers in NFL history. He won four Super Bowls and played in six in his illustrious career, and it all started at South Dakota State.
Punter- Ray Guy
One of the most controversial things about the Pro Football Hall of Fame is the inclusion of kickers. Two years ago, punter Ray Guy is one of the distinguished few. Fun fact, Guy went to the same small school as Brett Favre, the University of Southern Mississippi.