Nebraska's all-time NFL team

Photo courtesy of USA Today

The I-backs have always gotten the glory on campus at Nebraska ... but it's the fullbacks who succeed in the NFL

Back when Nebraska was the scourge of the Big Eight, running the ball at will and competing annually for national titles under Tom Osborne, the I-backs were the BMOC.

I.M. Hipp, Mike Rozier, Ahman Green, Jarvis Redwine, Doug DuBose, Derek Brown, Lawrence Phillips, Calvin Jones…those were the stars of Nebraska teams, piling up 1,000-yard rushing seasons and collecting All-America certificates.

But only Rozier and Green approached the level of success in the NFL that they enjoyed in college with Pro Bowl appearances. The NFL did strike a vein, however, drafting another player from those Nebraska backfields – the fullbacks.

The parade started with Andra Franklin in 1981 and would include Roger Craig (1983), Tom Rathman (1986), Cory Schlesinger (1995) and Joel Makovicka (1999).

Franklin led Miami in rushing each of his first three seasons, including a Pro Bowl season in 1982 when the Dolphins went to the Super Bowl. Craig spent his first four NFL seasons as a fullback for the 49ers, catching 71 passes in 1984 in a Super Bowl championship season, then leading the NFL with 92 receptions in 1985. He has been a Hall of Fame finalist.

Craig moved to halfback in 1987 and Rathman would join him in the San Francisco backfield as the fullback in 1988. That combo helped the 49ers win back-to-back Super Bowls in 1988-89. Rathman played nine NFL seasons, rushing for 2,020 yards and catching 320 passes.

Schlesinger and Makovicka became the prototypical blocking fullback in today’s NFL in addition to serving as the backbone on special teams’ coverage units. Schlesinger spent 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions and Makovicka four season with the Arizona Cardinals.

Craig and Rathman form the backfield on Nebraska’s all-time NFL team with Schlesinger chosen as the special-teams ace. There are five Pro Football Hall of Famers on Nebraska’s all-time NFL team.

Here’s the all-time Nebraska NFL team:

QB Vince Ferragamo, QB in Super Bowl XIV for Rams

HB Roger Craig, 3 Super Bowls, 4 Pro Bowls

FB Tom Rathman, 2 Super Bowls, 320 catches

WR Guy Chamberlin, Hall of Fame

WR Irving Fryar, 4 Pro Bowls, 851 catches, 84 TDs

TE Junior Miller, 2 Pro Bowls, 122 catches

OT Bob Brown, Hall of Fame

OT Zach Wiegert, 12 seasons

G Will Shields, Hall of Fame

G Carl Nicks, 2 Pro Bowls

C Mick Tingelhoff, Hall of Fame

DE Neil Smith, 1990s NFL all-decade team, 105 sacks

DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, 3 Pro Bowls, 58 sacks

DT Link Lyman, Hall of Fame

DT Ndamukong Suh, 5 Pro Bowls, 56 sacks

LB Jimmy Williams, 12 years, 13 INTs

LB Lavonte David, 1 Pro Bowl, 6 100-tackle seasons

LB Broderick Thomas, 9 years, 48 sacks

CB Pat Fischer, Member of Washington Redskins all-time team

CB Eric Warfield, 9 years, 20 INTs

S Mike Minter, 10 seasons, 17 INTs

S Mike Brown, 1 Pro Bowl, 20 INTs

K Josh Brown, 14 years, 1,395 points

P Sam Koch, 13 years, 1,006 punts

KR Tyrone Hughes, 1 Pro Bowl, 5 KR & PR TDs

ST Cory Schlesinger, 12 seasons, 97 special teams tackles

Comments (2)
No. 1-2
southwvboy
southwvboy

Vanden Bosch over Winstrom, I guess, just doesn't seem right

Rick Gosselin
Rick Gosselin

Editor

Vanden Bosch had 58 career sacks and went to three Pro Bowls, Wistrom 53 sacks and no Pro Bowls.