The 10 best players we missed out on playing with in NCAA College Football

The 10 best players we missed out on playing with in NCAA College Football

Illustration for article titled The 10 best players we missed out on playing with in NCAA College Football
Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

It’s finally back. Now, we don’t know when it’s officially coming back, but it’s coming…at some point.

“As we look for the momentum that we’re building on in sports, it all starts with the passion of our fans and the opportunities of what they are interested in,” Daryl Holt, EA Sports vice president and general manager, told ESPN. “I don’t think there’s a visit where I go outside wearing a piece of EA Sports-branded apparel that someone doesn’t go, ‘Hey, when is college football coming back?’”

Look, Madden is the king, but NCAA College Football filled a different void. And in its absence since the summer of 2013 – when NCAA College Football 2014 was released – fans were left with nothing but the option of playing dynasty mode on older editions. According to what EA Sports told ESPN, the company will have licensing for over 100 teams that includes all the traditions, uniforms, and playbooks. The term “NCAA” is also being dropped from the name, as the game will be called “EA Sports College Football.”

Oh, and that whole name, image, likeness (NIL) thing that led to the death of college sports video games are also covered, as the game won’t have rosters that include the NIL of actual players.

“We’ll just keep tabs on everything as it develops, and we’ll be ready,” Holt told ESPN about the NIL movement. “That won’t be a problem for us. But it’s really, that’s not an answer for us right now to decide. We’re as much passengers as anyone else.”

A lot of great players have played on Saturdays since Michigan’s Dennard Robinson graced the cover of the game’s last edition. Here’s a list of 10 players that we never got to utilize on “the sticks.”

Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 & 2020 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.

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Joe Burrow - LSU

Joe Burrow - LSU

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Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

You have to start this list with the guy who dreamed about being its cover boy.

Outside of winning a Heisman and leading LSU to a national championship, Burrow was just a cool ass dude. During his senior season, he won every award possible due to arguably the greatest season a college quarterback has ever produced. He scored 65 total touchdowns with 60 of them coming through the air with a 202 passer rating. He also had a 76.3 completion percentage on his way to 5,671 passing yards.

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Jabrill Peppers - Michigan

Jabrill Peppers - Michigan

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Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

Since 2016, Ohio State’s Chase Young is the only other defensive player that’s been a finalist for the Heisman besides Peppers. During his last season in Ann Arbor, Peppers played at least 11 different positions. He was the most complete football player playing on Saturdays. His ability to affect the outcome of a game on offense, defense, and special teams would have made him a video game legend.

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Derrick Henry - Alabama

Derrick Henry - Alabama

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Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

If you can’t tackle a 6-foot-3, 247-pound running back with 4.5 speed in real life, then how in the hell would it be possible to do it in a video game? Henry racked up 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on 5.6 yards a carry during his Heisman winning year at Alabama. The stiff-arm button probably would have been outlawed for him.

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Johnny Manziel - Texas A&M

Johnny Manziel - Texas A&M

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Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

“You just took 10 years off my life.”

That’s what Nick Saban said to then-Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin after their 2013 matchup. The Aggies pulled off the upset the year prior with a 29-24 win in Tuscaloosa, and almost did it again the following year in College Station before falling to the Crimson Tide 49-42.

Sumlin isn’t the one that caused Saban to lose a decade of his life, Johnny Football was. In those two games alone, Manziel accounted for 907 yards of total offense and 7 touchdowns. He definitely deserved to be in a video game.

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DeVonta Smith - Alabama

DeVonta Smith - Alabama

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Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

When you’re the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since 1991, it means that the video game version of you would have been unstoppable. Quarterbacks are always fun, but a dominant wide receiver just makes everything so much easier. From his route-running to his speed, and pass-catching abilities, and even the way he returned kicks, DeVonta Smith would have been a treasure on PS4.

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Lamar Jackson - Louisville

Lamar Jackson - Louisville

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Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

The thing that people often forget about how good Lamar Jackson was in college is that he was better in the year after he won the Heisman than the season he won it. He ran and threw for more yards in his junior year than he did in his sophomore season, as he finished his college career with 119 total touchdowns. Jackson would have had a 100-rating for speed and acceleration making him impossible to stop.

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Kyler Murray - Oklahoma

Kyler Murray - Oklahoma

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Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

With the way that Kyler Murray plays football, it almost seems like you’re watching a video game. The way he scurries around defenders as the fastest players on the field with a rocket launcher for an arm, it’s not hard to understand why his college success has translated to the NFL. The guy who is the only person to ever be a Top-10 draft pick in the NFL and MLB Drafts would have been awesome in a baseball game, too. Sucks to be you, baseball fans.

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Marcus Mariota - Oregon

Marcus Mariota - Oregon

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Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

If NCAA College Football would have lasted one more season, then the cover would have belonged to Mariota. While his NFL career hasn’t been the sexiest, let’s not forget how good he was at Oregon when he won the Heisman in 2014. That season he threw for just under 4,500 yards and only 4 interceptions to go along with 58 total touchdowns.

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Deshaun Watson - Clemson

Deshaun Watson - Clemson

Illustration for article titled The 10 best players we missed out on playing with in NCAA College Football
Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

Coming in third place for the Heisman, followed by a second-place finish a season later, and then delivering an iconic late-game drive over Alabama to give Clemson their first national title in over 30 years. Deshaun Watson did work in college, and it would have easily translated over to the video game world. Watson is a big reason why the Tigers have become the only program that Alabama can’t bully.

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Christian McCaffrey - Stanford

Christian McCaffrey - Stanford

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Screenshot: EA Sports/Illustration

Call it the “east coast bias,” but way too many people forget how great Mr. McCaffrey was on Saturdays. In his three seasons with the Cardinal, he gained over 5,100 yards from scrimmage and scored 33 touchdowns. He played running back, returned kicks, and caught a boatload of passes, as he made Pac-12 football worth staying up for on Saturday nights. His video game worth would have been very high on a game in which you can create your own playbook.

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Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 & 2020 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.