In our 8th installment of College football’s greatest players ever by position, we feature the Kick & Punt return specialist. Back in the day of smash mouth football, when you returned kicks, you were a member of the "Suicide Squad." Today you have an entire squad of coaches, and you are a member of the "Special Teams." Either way, the kick/punt returners featured in our list were more than suicidal and special - they were confident, fast, quick and the most exciting players on the field. Be sure to click the highlighted link of the school each player suited up for to see the Original Retro Brand shirt for that team! Here are the TOP TEN College Kick/punt return specialists ever!!!:
10. Johnny "The Jet" Rodgers, Nebraska: The 1972 Heisman Trophy winner and College Football Hall of Famer, established the NCAA record for all-purpose yards at 5,586. He was such a well rounded player that he carried the ball 130 times, caught the ball 143 times, and ran back 133 kicks.
9. Desmond Howard, Michigan: The 1991 Heisman Trophy winner, which he won by the second largest margin of victory in the trophy's history, had close to a combined 1,500 yards in punt & kickoff returns for the Wolverines.
8. "Neon" Deion Sanders, Florida State: HEY! Deion also made my list of TOP TEN best College Defensive backs of all time! What an honor!! Returned punts to lead the nation in that category, and simply struck fear into opposing offenses on every play. Won the 1988 Jim Thorpe Award for outstanding Defensive Back of the year. Of course he played baseball and ran track and went on to be a 9-time pro bowler in the NFL.
7. " Touchdown Timmy" Brown, Notre Dame: Tim brown was a two- time All-American, and winner of the 1987 Heisman Trophy. Brown packed on over 5,000 all-purpose yards for the Fighting Irish. He also made my TOP TEN best College Wide Receivers of all-time list!!
6. Greg "Do it" Pruitt, Oklahoma: Combined for close to 1,000 yards in punt/kick returns in addition to his rushing duties. Was a unanimous All-American in 1971 & 1972, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
5. Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, Widener: At Divison III Widener College in Pennsylvania, Johnson averaged 27.4 yards per punt return...that is just ridiculous! It earned him a ticket to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and a spectacular NFL career.
4. Eric Metcalf, Texas: Holds record for most punt return yards for the Longhorns with 1,076. He was also a two-time National Champion in the long jump in 1986-1987.
3. Napoleon McCallum, NAVY: The College Football Hall of Famer, and 2-Time All-American held 18 records for the Midshipmen before he left for the NFL. He has the second most All-Purpose yards in NCAA history with 7,172, which is INSANE (DeAngelo Williams from Memphis has the most @ 7,573).
2. Wes "The Natural" Welker, Texas Tech: Aside from his outstanding receiving achievement's for the Red Raiders, Welker ran back an NCAA record 8 punts for touchdowns during his career. He also holds the record for most punt return yards at 1,761.
1. Raghib "Rocket" Ismail, Notre Dame: Helped lead the Irish to the 1988 National title. At only 5-10 and 175 lbs, the Rocket was one of the fastest players in the history of college football. Ismail ran back 2 punts for touchdowns in one game against Rice University in 1988, and again against arch rival Michigan a year later.
Did I leave anybody off? YES, Anthony Davis of USC! How could I forget the man who scored two 90+ yard Kickoff returns in one game against Notre Dame. He also holds career NCAA record for average per kick return at a whopping 35.1. "AD" is the co-champ on this list with the Rocket. Now.....is there anybody else?