NFL stars with so-so college careers 

June, 29, 2011

In response to's "Simply Saturday" series, which looks at college stars who never made it in the pros, I figured I'd flip things around for this week's list: the biggest "upside" guys in the NFL. The criteria: The top players in the NFL who didn't even make all-conference during their college careers. One caveat to keep in mind: I'm picking from guys who played big-time college football -- which we'll define here as the AQ conferences.

1. Tom Brady, Michigan Wolverines

The guy many NFL analysts call the best player in pro football never made first-team or even second-team All-Big Ten in his days at Michigan. Brady, then a lanky Californian, started two seasons in Ann Arbor and was good, performing well enough to rank fifth all-time on the school's list in completions, sixth in passing yards and seventh in touchdowns, but in 1998, it was Drew Brees who made second-team all-conference and Ohio State's Joe Germaine who was the first-team pick. In 1999, it was Brees getting the first-team honors and Indiana's dynamic Antwan Randle El, then a sophomore, who got second-team honors. Brady entered the NFL as the 199th player taken, and yeah, the Patriots struck gold with this pick.