The game of football has change dramatically since the turn of the century. Rules have changed, conferences look different, and to top it all off; players are able to be paid for the name, image and likeness.
Even with the changes, there has always been impact players that stand above the rest. We take a look at who were some of the most impactful players in college football since 2010.
The most physically dominating quarterback in 2010, Cam Newton burst onto the college football seen changing the Auburn Tigers offense overnight. At 6’5 230 pounds, Cam Newton was an unstoppable force in all aspects of the game. Cam had a decent arm to go with his lethal running ability. Most cornerbacks and linebackers could not bring him down let alone keep up with him.
Cam would throw for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns. On the ground, Cam would rush for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns. These numbers are remarkable to say the least, and he did it while playing in the toughest conference in all of college football.
Austin may not have won a national title while at West Virginia, but he did become the most dominating athlete on the field in 2011 and 2012. Austin would put on show after show against some the best programs in the country. In 2012, Tavon Austin would have a career night against Oklahoma. He would total over 500 all-purpose yards in a single game.
Combining his numbers from his junior and senior campaigns, Austin would put up over 5,000 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns. All-purpose includes receiving, rushing, kick and punt returning. The guy was unbelievable.
Honestly didn’t know Mathieu’s real name until the middle of the season. Possibly the last college football player to get a nickname. The Honey Badger is what he would be known around the country as. His very high football IQ and tenacity om the field made him a more than formidable opponent. At 5’9, most would consider his stature to be undersized, but he played with the biggest heart. Anytime LSU needed to get the ball he would step up. He was the biggest defensive difference maker of the last decade. Mathieu put fear into his opponents every week.
Over the two-year span of 2010 and 2011, the Honey Badger forced 11 fumbles and 4 interceptions.
The first Freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy, Johnny Manziel’s impact made Texas A&M transition to the SEC a smooth one. With Manziel under center, the Aggies became formidable to say the least. The game that put the spotlight onto Manziel was his performance against Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide. On a November evening, Manziel would put up over 300 yards worth of offense in a stunning upset over #1 Alabama. The Crimson Tide chased the soon to be Heisman winner all over the field.
Johnny, in his two seasons, would account for 93 total touchdowns and 9989 yards of total offense. Moreover, Johnny was a small quarterback who had the ability to make you miss. It was his unorthodox approach to the quarterback position that made him difficult to contain.
The man, the myth, the legend, Lamar Jackson was this generations Micheal Vick. Like the others on this list, Jackson was an unstoppable force for the most part. He was Louisville’s entire offense which is the reason why he won the Heisman. His 2016 Heisman campaign was magnificent to say the least. Jackson went for 5,114 yards of total offense and 51 touchdowns. His 2017 campaign was just as astounding, with a stat line that reads 5,261 yards of offense and just 45 touchdowns. They should have given him the Heisman in back-to-back years.
Quick reminder, there is no order to this list and this is just part 1 of a 3 part series.