As we near the end of the decade, it's time to start looking back at the best that was in college football during the 2010s. There have been countless remarkable and memorable individual performances — whether a game, season or career.
It's not easy trying to narrow down the best of the best. But here's a look at our choices for college football's All-Decade team (2010-19).
Eight quarterbacks have won the Heisman Trophy this decade, and there's a good chance it will be nine. However, the best quarterback of the decade on our list did not win the prestigious award, but Watson received plenty of just praise while throwing for 10,168 yards with 90 touchdowns and rushing for 1,934 plus another 26 scores during his three seasons at Clemson. In addition to being a Heisman finalist in 2015 and '16, Watson twice won the Davey O'Brien and Manning Awards (nation's top quarterback). More importantly, he led the Tigers to a national championship in 2016 after losing the title game in 2015.
Wisconsin has obviously produced some of the best running backs in college football history (currently with Jonathan Taylor), and Ball is near the top of that list. Ball's 73 rushing touchdowns from 2010-12 are the most in college football this decade, while his 118.7 rushing yards per game rank fifth and his 4,749 on the ground are 10th over that span. Ball won the Doak Walker Award (nation's top running back) in 2012 and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 2011.
During his three seasons at Stanford, McCaffrey totaled 3,922 rushing yards and 1,206 receiving. In 2015 alone, McCaffrey set the FBS all-purpose yards mark for a season with 3,864 via rushing, receiving and return yardage. He was The Associated Press Player of the Year and the Paul Hornung Award (nation's most versatile player) winner in 2015 and finished second to Alabama's Derrick Henry in the Heisman Trophy race.
Though Blackmon has had a troubled NFL career, his last two seasons at Oklahoma State were simply remarkable. In 2010 and '11, Blackmon caught 232 passes for 3,304 yards and a ridiculous 38 touchdowns for the Cowboys. The two-time unanimous All-American also is the last player to win the Biletnikoff Award, as the nation's top receiver, in back-to-back seasons.
While there were more marquee names from bigger programs to shine this decade, Davis' collegiate accomplishments can go toe-to-toe with anybody. His 5,278 career yards are the most in FBS history, and his 52 touchdown catches lead the decade. Davis also ranks third since 2010 with 331 receptions and fifth with 105.7 yards per contest while with Western Michigan, which went 21-6 in his last two seasons and played in the Cotton Bowl during his last.
Andrews has not allowed diabetes to slow him down. One of the top tight ends in the NFL at the moment, Andrews successfully cut his teeth with the Sooners. The Mackey Award winner as the nation's top tight end in 2017, Andrews ranks second at the position this decade averaging 15.8 yards per catch and among the national leaders with 22 career TDs. He finished his college career with 112 catches for 1,765 yards.
One of the most versatile and decorated offensive linemen in the college football history, Jones was the 2011 Outland Trophy (nation's top interior lineman) and Parker Award (country's top offensive lineman) winner. The next season, Jones, who already moved from guard to tackle, flaunted his versatility, winning the Rimington Award as the nation's top center — making him just the second player in history to win the Outland and Rimington.
Joeckel started all 37 games he played at left tackle for the Aggies during his stellar college career. He was an unanimous All-American in 2012, the same season he won the Outland Trophy. In 2011, Joeckel was a big reason Texas A&M starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked just nine times all season.
Scherff made 36 starts for the Hawkeyes during his impressive career. He started at guard and moved to tackle and eventually was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and an unanimous consensus All-American in 2014. That same season, Scherff was awarded the Outland Trophy. He was the fifth overall pick by the Washington Redskins in 2015.
Despite dealing with a serious back injury during his time at Baylor, Drango managed to start 48 games and was a two-time consensus All-American. He twice was named the Big 12 Lineman of the Year (2014 and '15). In 2013, Drango was a key part of a Bears offense that totaled an NCAA-record 681 points for the season.
Price started 55 games for Ohio State, a school career record. After redshirting in 2013, Price started all 15 games during the Buckeyes' national championship season of 2014. In 2017, Price ended his collegiate career by winning the Rimington Award. He was the the 21st overall pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018.
It should be no surprise Donald has enjoyed tremendous success on the NFL level (two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year), considering how dominating he was at Pitt. In four seasons with the Panthers, Donald recorded 181 tackles, 66 for loss, 29.5 sacks and forced six fumbles. In 2013, Donald won the Outland Trophy, Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy, as the nation's top defensive player, and the Lombardi Award (country's top overall player).
Quite the specimen, Bosa did not waste any time displaying his defensive dominance. He recorded 7.5 sacks as a freshman for the Buckeyes and finished with 26 for his three-year college career. The all-American also posted 50.5 tackles for loss, including a stunning 21 during his 2014 sophomore season. Bosa was the No. 3 overall pick by the then-San Diego Chargers in 2016.
A two-time AP All-American first-teamer, Oliver was as good as they came when dominating the middle of a defensive line. In just 32 collegiate games for the Cougars, Oliver recorded a massive 192 tackles, 53 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. He also defended 14 passes and forced six fumbles. Oliver won the Outland Trophy as a sophomore in 2017.
Young's time at Ohio State has not ended yet, though all signs point to this being the junior's final season on the collegiate level. While there are certainly plenty of pass rushers worthy of a spot on this list, what Young has done during his career is truly special. Entering Ohio State's Nov. 9 date with Maryland, Young has recorded a whopping 35 tackles for loss and 27.5 sacks.
Kuechly certainly left his mark at the college level, racking up a Boston College and ACC-record 532 career tackles — including national-leading 191 during his 2011 season. He also recorded 35.5 tackles for loss and picked off an impressive seven passes during his time with the Eagles. When his college career had finished, the two-time consensus All-American won the Butkus (nation's top linebacker) and Lombardi Awards and the Nagurski Trophy.
Jones began his collegiate career at USC, but it's after transferring to Georgia when he fulfilled his potential and became a star. A consensus All-American in 2011 and '12, Jones recorded 168 career tackles, including 45.5 for loss. In his two seasons with the Bulldogs, he totaled 28 sacks and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.
Despite the infamous girlfriend hoax and a rather pedestrian NFL career, Te'o certainly enjoyed an exceptional college career on the football field. His 437 career tackles rank among the all-time leaders at Notre Dame, where he enjoyed a stretch of 47 consecutive starts. During the Irish's run to the national championship game for the 2012 season, Te'o won the Butkus, Bednarik, Lombardi, Maxwell and Camp (top college player) Awards and the Nagurski Trophy.
A safety who played with the heart and physicality of a linebacker — which he became in the NFL, Barron certainly packed a load when taking down opposing ball carriers. An AP All-American, Barron was also a three-time All-SEC first-teamer and a two-time national champion for Alabama while recording 235 tackles and intercepting 12 passes as a collegian.
The 2011 winner of the Thorpe Award, as the nation's best defensive back, Claiborne improved considerably in each of his three seasons with the Tigers. In his last two years at LSU, Claiborne recorded all 11 of his collegiate interceptions. He was taken sixth overall in the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys in 2012.
A three-time all-SEC first-team member and an AP All-American in 2015, Hargreaves recorded 10 career interceptions, was credited with 27 passes defended and made 121 total tackles during his time with a Gators. His ability to play both the pass and run on the end allowed Hargreaves to stand out during his college career.
A three-year starter and two-time national champion for the Crimson Tide, Fitzpatrick was a stud against both the run and the pass. He recorded 171 tackles during his three seasons —16.5 which went for a loss. He also picked off nine passes, four of which he returned for touchdowns, and he had five sacks. In 2017, Fitzpatrick won the Thorpe and Bednarik Awards for his stellar play.
In the case of the versatile Peppers, it was not what he did on the field but what he didn't do. As a unanimous All-American in 2016, Peppers won the Hornung Award and was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year while also a Heisman finalist after recording 13 tackles for loss in his final collegiate campaign. He became a two-way staple during his career at Michigan, rushing for 239 yards with five touchdowns and catching 10 career passes, not to mention his success averaging 13.1 career yards with a TD as a punt returner.
A two-time first team-All-American by The Associated Press, Aguayo will not only go down as one of the best kickers of the decade but also in the history of college football. Aguayo made good on 88.5 percent of his field-goal chances (69 of 78) and was successful on all 198 of his extra-point attempts. He was also 28 of 28 from 20-29 yards out. Aguayo was a second-round pick of the Tampa Buccaneers — the first kicker to go that high in the NFL Draft since 2005.
The first punter ever to win the Ray Guy Award in back-to-back seasons (2011 and '12), Allen shined at Louisiana Tech after beginning his career at Oregon State. He averaged 44.9 yards per punt during his career and was a unanimous AP All-American as a senior. Allen also won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.
Not only was Penny an elite running back (3,656 yards, 38 TDs) during his career with the Aztecs, but he also was one of the game's most unheralded return men. His seven kickoff returns for a touchdown are tied for the most this decade, and he also took a punt back for a score. Penny's 30.2 kickoff return yard average ranks fourth since 2010.
While Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has won two of the last three national titles, this decade still belongs to Saban. The Crimson Tide boss has posted four (2011, '12, '15 and '17) national championships since 2010. He's also the last coach to win back-to-back national titles and has Alabama once again in the hunt to claim another this season.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.
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