On second thought...
A vote for Jerry Rice at No. 88
Posted: Thursday January 3, 2008 11:15AM; Updated: Thursday January 3, 2008 11:46AM
Sure, Oklahoma's Keith Jackson is a worthy selection as the best college player to wear No. 88. But Jerry Rice should be at the top of the list. Rice made Mississippi Valley State relevant in college football and the small school gained national recognition because of Rice's exceptional play. Though Rice caught passes from Willie Totten, a College Football Hall of Fame inductee, his individual numbers are simply too great to ignore.
During his college career Rice faced constant double-coverage and still managed 50 touchdown receptions, a record that stood for more than 20 years before it was broken in 2006 by New Hampshire's David Ball. As a sophomore, Rice caught 66 passes for 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns. The next year he set NCAA Division I-AA records for receptions (102) and receiving yards (1,450). As a senior, he broke his own marks for receptions (103) and receiving yards (1,682) and his 27 touchdown receptions in 1984 set the NCAA mark for all divisions. Rice finished ninth in the 1984 Heisman Trophy voting and finished his college career with 301 catches for 4,693 yards.
You can argue the talent level is lower in Division I-AA and that Rice played against weaker competition, but part of Jackson's candidacy is based on the dominance of Oklahoma during his tenure. Among Jackson's teammates on his 1985 national championship team were All-America linebacker Brian Bosworth and defensive lineman Tony Casillas. And opposing coordinators had to game plan for Oklahoma's other offensive weapons: quarterback Jamelle Holieway and running back Lydell Carr. At Mississippi Valley State, everyone knew the ball was going to Rice, yet he still made play after play after play. For me, there is no other No. 88.