PGWU Top 5: All-Time College Linebackers


We have a new feature at PGWU, the PGWU Top 5 lists.  We will release a different list every week throughout the year.  A few writers will contribute each week.   If you have any list you would like to see us compile, send me a tweet @PregameWarmUp or reply in the links.

John Huber’s Top 5 LB

1. Dick Butkus – Illinois

It all starts with this guy. Heck the award for best college linebacker annually is named for him!  A ferocious hitter, no player before or since could reverse the direction of a ball carrier like Butkus. Tough and nasty player, he became the future model for all linebackers.

2. Hugh Green – Pitt

Greens 53 career sacks from 1977-80 is the all-time NCAA record.  A hybrid OLB/DE he finished second to George Rogers in the 1980 Heisman race. Not many have ever possessed Greens combination of speed, strength, quickness and agility. A three time all-American and the first defensive player to win the Walter Camp award.

3. Lawrence Taylor – North Carolina

Originally recruited to UNC as a linemen, Taylor and Derrick Thomas re-defined the LB  position during the 80’s. Played before the Butkus Award existed but had 16 sacks his senior year and was All-American and ACC player of the year.  Selected number 2 overall by the Giants in the 1981 NFL draft.

4. Derrick Thomas – Alabama

Holds the single season sack NCAA record with 27 and trails only Hugh Green with 52 career sacks. Almost un-blockable coming off the edge DT made life miserable for college and NFL offensive tackles. One of, if not the best pure pass rusher s in the history of the game.

5. Mike Singletary – Baylor

“The Minister of Defense” was a tackling machine. Playing in Waco, he somewhat flew under the national radar but was still a two time all-American who averaged 15 tackles per game and had 3 games of 30+ tackles in his college career.  662 Career tackles.  Possessed the most intense “game face” ever.

Jason Kelly’s Top 5 LB


1. Dick Butkus

Without a doubt, he was the one to revolutionize the position.  It doesn’t hurt that he has the award named for him.

2. Jerry Robinson

He was a three time All American.  He was converted from WR in his Soph Year.  Only linebacker to reach All American status in 3 years.

 3. Jack Ham

He made PSU “Linebacker U”

4.  “Batman” Richard Wood

 Led the USC defense to 2 national titles

5.  Tommy Nobis

Between 63-65, he averaged 20 tackles a game

Jason Madson’s Top 5 LB

1. Dick Butkus

The best linebacker to ever play the game.  It doesn’t matter if we are talking college or pro, this guy is where any list should start.

2. Chris Spielman

He is a personal favorite of mine, and a damn good college football player.  2 time All-American and Lombardi award winner. 

3.Lawrence Taylor

The most athletic freak to play in college football in my opinion, but not as true of a linebacker as the top 2.  Had he worried more about his status on the field, he would’ve been even better.

4.Derrick Thomas

Sacks, sacks and more sacks.  That is what DT would give you every year, proving my point with the NCAA career record of 52 sacks.(NCAA didn’t begin counting defensive stats until 2000) DT was in the defensive backfield chasing QB’s more often than he wasn’t.

5.LaVar Arrington

As dominant a force as we have seen in the last 20 years, he was a playmaker.  The LaVar Leap was his most famous play at Linebacker U, but he did a lot more than that.  He was the only soph to be selected as the Big-10 DPOY.

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