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Each week Jack & John feature a top five. Tuesdays we'll feature them here on the blog and Wednesday we carry over the debate to the show when we take your calls. Agree or disagree with one of our entries? Have one we forgot? Be sure to comment below and call us Wednesday morning at 479-1400. This week, we continue our countdown to Husker football with our Top 5 Husker Offensive Players. Next week: Top 5 Blackshirts.
John's Top 5:
Important note. These are the top five that I enjoyed watching most during my lifetime. These choices are not based on statistics, wins and losses or individual honors.
1) Mike Rozier
Rozier was not the fastest, the most elusive, nor arguably the best running back Nebraska ever had. But he is the only Husker running back to win the Heisman and he still holds many of the significant career rushing records at the school. Rozier's selection to the top of my list could really be classified as a "team achievement award." He was the star player on one of the most explosive offenses in college history and you got the feeling that everytime he took a pitch from Turner Gill that he might go all the way thanks to devastatingly good blocking from his offensive line. The fact that he took the starting I-Back job away from future NFL star Roger Craig tells you a little about his own attributes.
2) Johnny Rodgers
Rodgers barely classifies as having played "in my lifetime" considering that his playing days were over before I was out of diapers. But as I was growing into a Husker football fan, Rodgers was the poster child for Big Red greatness. While many of his signature plays happened on special teams, Rodgers threat as a wingback made his entire offense better. His receiving skills were far superior to any Husker receiver that played before and most of them who have played since. But no Big Red wideout has had the total package that Rodgers possessed. Only Irving Fryar could come close.
3) Tommie Frazier
The best quarterback Nebraska's ever had has to be on this list somewhere. Touchdown Tommie was not an eye-popping numbers guy, though he did post some lofty figures. Frazier possessed the unique quality that makes a quarterback a championship quarterback. He had a knack for making the right play at the right time. For knowing when it was time to distribute the ball and when to keep it. Heisman voters in 1995 completely missed the mark when they voted Eddie George ahead of Frazier.
4) Jarvis Redwine
Redwine!?!?! Of all the Ahman Greens, I.M. Hipps, Lawrence Phillips's, Calvin Jones's of the world and I pick Marvelous Jarvis!?!!
Absolutely. Redwine was a quick, sometimes-shifty transfer from Oregon State in 1979 who took I.M. Hipp's starting job and soon began to carve a name for himself in a short, two-year career at Nebraska. Redwine was destined to challenge for the Heisman in 1980 before a broken rib derailed his efforts. Despite that, Redwine was the first to rush for back-to-back 1,000 seasons at Nebraska and had a number of memorable runs. He was seen as Nebraska's answer to Billy Sims, the great Oklahoma running back who enjoyed tormenting the Huskers in the late 70s. I have to admit that Jarvis's taunt of an Oklahoma defensive back as he galloped 89 yards for a touchdown against the Sooners in 1980 is still one of my favorite Husker plays of all time (even if we did lose the game.)
5) Dave Rimington
Yes, there are dozens of great ball-carriers that could fit here over an offensive lineman, but Dave Rimington was that special. Nebraskans have always appreciated hard work by unassuming men who do the heavy lifting, but it wasn't until Rimington that Husker fans really watched what it is the lineman do. Rimington's explosion off the ball was before-his-time. Centers just didn't blow people up like that. He was a man among boys on many occasions. Can't tell you how many times my dad would comment in the stands about what Rimington "just did to that other guy" while I (and many others) were watching the ball. Soon, everybody began to appreciate Big Dave.
Jack's Top 5
Like John, my top 5 will be limited to players that I saw play in person (and was old enough to have some sort of evaluative capacity), so we're talking from 1983-2009. If this were an all-time list, Johnny Rodgers would obviously finish #1 or #2.
1) Mike Rozier
John said it all above with the video, but there just aren't guys like run like this guy did anymore. They talk about downhill runners, 'tough runners', 'elusive runners' and speedsters. Somehow, he seemed to do all of those things at once.
2) Tommie Frazier
This was sealed by the way he took over the two national championship games he played in. His best games were in the biggest games of his career, he put up ridiculously gaudy running numbers, better-than-you-think passing numbers and thoroughly befuddled Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp and the Rock late on a January night in 1994. Can you believe we lost almost a whole year of this guy thanks to blood clots? At least we all still know what anti-coagulants are to this day and recognize the name Dr. Deepak Gangahar.
3) Lawrence Phillips
OK, so clearly this isn't a ranking of the 'best guys' to play on the Husker O over the last 30 years, it's a list of the most offensive players. And I'm not sure I've ever seen any running back in history dominate the way LP did in 1995. Wow.
4) Eric Crouch
I'm going to say something that's surprisingly contrarian right now. In 2010, Eric Crouch is vastly underrated as a Nebraska quarterback. Since his bust in the NFL there's been a surprisingly strong backlash against Crouch from Husker fans (I never again want to hear someone say Jammal Lord was superior to him) and it's actually served to innacurately devalue his greatness.
5) Johnny Mitchell
I don't think I'm out of line saying that Mitchell is the best Tight End Nebraska has ever put on the field. Unfortunately his time was short in Lincoln, but he was the biggest true weapon at the tight end weapon a Husker offense has ever featured. I know, Junior Miller was great, but he didn't completely transform an offense like Mitchell did. Check out what he did in the second half of this OU game in '91. Don't miss the catch at 1:17.
So I obviously didn't include the Gills, Fryars, Rimingtons, and Greens of the world, and they're probably the first ones left out, but I also wanted to include an honorable mention category that's got some guys who may be a touch under the radar. So, without further ado, your somewhat Obscure Honorable Mentions: Will Shields, Steve Taylor, Keith Jones, Maurice Purify, DeAngelo Evans, Todd Millikan, Keith Jones, Nate Swift, Leodis Flowers, Lance Lewis, Cory Dixon.
For shame Jack Mitchell! Maybe it was just because he's your namesake but you really put Johnny Mitchell above Turner Gill and Irving Fryar. I'm not saying they have to be in your top 5 (though the QB that changed the position for the next 20 years should be), but they certainly shouldn't be behind Johnny Mitchell. Come on man.