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Permalink 12/18/08 , CSN Columns, CSN Staff

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1978 to 2008: The FCS Top Thirty Lists

floated rightThe highest level of NCAA championship football began play in 1978 as Division I-AA and from that time there have been numerous top performers throughout the 30 years. Now renamed the Football Championship Subdivision, the following is a list compiled to highlight the Top 30 at the positions of quarterback, runningback, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, defensive back, kicker/punter, and FCS national championship games as part of our 2008 Yearbook.

This level of football has produced NFL Most Valuable Players such as quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Rich Gannon, Super Bowl MVPs such as Richard Dent, NFL record holders such as Jerry Rice and Steve Christie, and numerous NCAA records. These lists spotlight some of those achievements and gives a sampling of the level of play that the FCS has and continues to produce.


We have heard all the comparisons with the larger level of Division I football, now called the Football Bowl Subdivision. As you look through the following lists, we ask you to think about how this list compares with one that might be produced for the FBS since Division I divided into two subdivisions.

Looking at most of the recognizable names on the FCS list, we think a claim can be made that a team of FCS all-time all-stars could compete with a team of FBS all-stars in terms of notoriety and performance at the professional level.

One stipulation that we made was that an individual had to have played at least one season at the FCS level. For example, Marshall moved from the FCS level to the FBS level after the 1996 season. Players such as the Thundering Herd’s Randy Moss played just one season at the FCS level were eligible for the list. Others may have played for an FBS team and then transferred to a FCS team like current New York Giant Brandon Jacobs, who played just his senior season with Southern Illinois.

Another stipulation is the years that a player actually played. Two examples of awards for FCS performers in the Walter Payton (FCS Best Offensive Player) Award and the Buck Buchanan (Best Defensive Player) Award are former players for current FCS teams (Payton for Jackson State and Buchanan for Grambling) but played when their teams were actually at the Division II level. No player that finished their college play prior to 1978 was eligible for the list.

While this is a sampling of the talent that this level of football has produced, there have been many more that have performed at a high level both at the FCS level and the professional levels. We tried to capture all the top performers through the FCS 30 year history and in most cases, had to narrow down to just 30 in each position. Like any subjective list, we are sure there are some deserving players that were left off but feel that this is a good representation of the players that signify the FCS level of play.

We will be publishing the lists over the next few weeks and we hope you will enjoy this small sampling of the past thirty years of the FCS. The lists were compiled prior to the 2008 season.

PDF Lists:
Top 30 Wide Receivers
Top 30 Defensive Backs
Top 30 Offensive Linemen
Top 30 Defensive Linemen
Top 30 Kickers
Top 30 Runningbacks
Top 30 Linebackers
Top 30 Quarterbacks
Top 30 Championship Games