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The 25 Greatest Huskers Of the Past 25 Years

Earlier this year I got the chance to write for "Home Game" magazine. It's a new magazine that is available at Nebraska home games for the first time this past season. Versions of "Home Game" were published for Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

I wrote this article "The 25 Greatest Huskers of the Past 25 Years" as a feature article in one of the early issues and received permission from the publisher to use it again on Corn Nation.

The premise for the article was to pick the 25 greatest Husker football players since 1983, and then write a short, 50-word blurb on them. Easy, right?Sounds like it, doesn't it? And it is until you sit down and try to do it. Then you realize that there have been quite a few great players in the past 25 years.

Otherwise, my real life/job schedule has gone nuts with projects that need to be completed before I can take some vacation, and before the end of the year, so I've been a little sparse here this past week. This article ought to give you something to chew on, something to have fun with.(BTW, I have not updated it since it's being published in September.)

Here's what I'd like to see from CN'ers. You can argue about order all you want, and if you want to post your own 25, that'd be great. One rule - you can't just suggest a player without removing someone from the list. In other words, you can't just ask "Why isn't John Smith on there?" without recommending him replacing someone else.

Have at it!


25. Ken Clark  
Ken Clark is currently fifth on the all-time rushing list with 3,037 yards. He was an all-Big Eight selection twice, in 1988 and 1989. He lead the team to a Big Eight title in 1988. Clark will be inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame this September.

24. Mike Brown
Mike Brown played corner, rover, and safety, garnering first-team All-Big 12 honors in 1998 and 1999. Brown was known for his hard-hitting and tackling and currently holds the tackling record for defensive backs with 102. He was a first-team All-American in 1999.

23. Ralph Brown
Ralph Brown was a three-time first-team All Big Eight selection at cornerback in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Brown holds the Nebraska record for pass break-ups in a single game with seven, the career pass break-up record with 50, and career interception return yardage with 253.

22. Calvin Jones
Calvin Jones was the marquee I-back from 1991-1993, winning Big Eight championships all three years. Jones holds the record for the most yards and touchdowns in a game with 294 and six, respectively. He is fourth all-time in 100-yard rushing games with 16. Jones is fourth on the all-time rushing list.

21. Cory Schlesinger
Cory Schlesinger is best known for scoring two touchdowns in a comeback win against Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl. The win secured Tom Osborne’s first national title. Fullbacks don’t get a lot of credit nor a lot of carries, but for their toughness. Schlesinger embodied that toughness as well as any Husker player.

20. Scott Frost

Scott Frost won the Big 12 championship and national title in 1997, leading the Huskers to a 13-0 season. He didn’t win any big name awards, but his leadership was proven during the last minute of regulation against Missouri as he willed the Huskers to a touchdown and an ultimate win in overtime.

19. Danny Noonan
In 1986, Danny Noonan was selected as an All-America by several sources, first-team All Big Eight and as the Big Eight Athlete of the Year. Noonan played defensive tackle and is fourth on the all-time career sack list with 24.

18. Aaron Taylor
Aaron Taylor earned All-American honors as both a guard and center, the only Husker player ever to do so. In 1997, he won the Outland Trophy, and his #67 jersey was retired. He was part of the 49-2 run from 1994-1997, winning three national titles.

17. Josh Bullocks

Josh Bullocks holds the season interception record, picking off ten passes in in 2003. He is second all-time in the category with 13. He gained All-American honors and as a free safety was first-team All Big 12 in 2003.

16. Barrett Ruud

Barrett Ruud was the leading tackler as a linebacker in 2003 and again in 2004 on his way to becoming Nebraska’s all-time tackle leader. He leads in total tackles with 432, unassisted tackles with 218, and assisted tackles with 214. The top tackler in Husker history deserves to be here.

15. Neil Smith
Neil Smith was a disruptive force from the defensive tackle position in 1987. He was first-team All Big Eight and a second-team All-American. He is one of the top sack leaders in Nebraska history. 

14. Matt Davison
Without Matt Davison, a kicked ball lands harmlessly in the end zone in Columbia, Missouri. There is no '97 national title and no play by which to drive Tigers fans crazy. Davison finished his career with 1,456 receiving yards and second in all-time receiving yardage (he is currently fourth).

13. Broderick Thomas
Nicknamed ‘The Sandman’, Broderick Thomas was as ferocious as an outside linebacker could be. Thomas was named first-team All Big Eight as a sophomore in 1986, then again in 1987 and 1988. In 1988, he was the Big Eight defensive player of the year, 1988, helping lead Nebraska to a Big Eight Championship.

12. Irving Fryar

Irving Fryar was one of the main forces of the 1983 ‘Scoring Explosion’ offense. He was an All-American as a wide receiver despite playing on a team that lead the nation in rushing offense. Fryar is currently seventh in all-time receiving yardage.

11. Lawrence Phillips
The most controversial player in Cornhusker history because of his assault on a former girlfriend and troubled life after leaving Nebraska, Phillips was a complete package on the field. In 1994 he had 11 straight 100-yard games, but his best was against KSU when he rushed for 126 yards despite the Wildcat defense knowing they had to stop him.

10. Trev Alberts

In 1993, Trev Alberts became the first Husker player to win the Dick Butkus award. He also won the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year and Big Eight Male Athlete of the Year. As an outside linebacker, Alberts totaled 15 sacks that season, three coming against Charlie Ward in the national title game in the Orange Bowl.

9. Dean Steinkuhler
Steinkuhler won the Outland and Lombardi Trophies in 1983, opening holes for Mike Rozier. Both players had their jerseys retired the following season. Steinkuhler is best known for the “Fumblerooski” play during the 1984 Orange Bowl when he scored on a 19 yard run. His sons Ty and Baker are currently on the 2008 squad.

8. Will Shields
Will Shields was the Outland Trophy winner in 1992, and was an all-conference selection for three straight seasons. With Shields leading the way, Nebraska was the top rushing team in the nation in 1989, 1991, and 1992.

7. Turner Gill
Turner Gill didn't win a national title and in 1983, the year of the 'Scoring Explosion', he was overshadowed by Irving Fryar and Mike Rozier. What Gill did was transform the quarterback position into an art form playing with a poise and grace unmatched by any other in Husker history.

6. Grant Wistrom
From 1994 to 1997, Grant Wistrom was part of a 49-2 Nebraska run, winning three national titles during that span. He won the Outland in ‘97 and was the Big 12 defensive player of the year. Known for his relentless play as a defensive end - in the Nebraska dictionary next to the word ’motor’ is a picture of Wistrom.

5. Eric Crouch

Crouch won the Davey O’Brien Award, the Walter Camp Award and the Heisman Trophy in 2001. He finished his career as one of only three Division IA quarterback to gain 3,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards passing. With a 95-yard touchdown run against Missouri and 63-yard touchdown reception against Oklahoma, Crouch was an explosive player.

4. Zach Weigert
Weigert won the Outland Trophy in 1994 and was the anchor of an offensive line that won Nebraska’s first national title since 1971. He was a three-year starter at right tackle, being selected as first-time All Big Eight all three seasons. His jersey, #72, is one of eleven retired in Husker history.  

3. Ahman Green

In three seasons (Green left a year early for the NFL draft), Ahman Green piled up 3,880 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns, putting him second on the all-time rushing and touchdown list. He set the freshman rushing record with 1,086 yards in 1995, winning two national titles in ‘95 and ’97.

2. Mike Rozier
Mike Rozier is one of three Husker Heisman winners. He is the all-time leading rusher at Nebraska at 4,780 yards. During his ‘83 Heisman campaign he became only the second player to rush for over 2,000 yards with 2,148. He also holds the record for most 100 yard games with 26.

1. Tommie Frazier
Can there be any argument against Frazier at #1? The only player to be MVP of three national championship games, winning two of them. The quarterback of the ‘95 Huskers, the best team in college football history. Gator fans who who have seen “The Run” still have nightmares seeking the answer to “How many tackles can one man break!!?”