The Nation's Best: Fifth Annual Herbies

Updated: August 31, 2005, 3:19 PM ET
By Kirk Herbstreit | Special to

The Herbies celebrate their fifth season with an all-star cast of players and a few extra catagories from the sights and sounds from around college football.

But before we announce the winners, let's get one thing straight -- The Herbies celebrate college football players. This list has everything to do with the playmakers, the hogmollies, the difference makers and, in short, just great college football players. It has nothing -- nothing -- to do with their pro potential.

Now, what's a Herbie? It's given to the best college football players, coaches, teams and fans from across the nation.

Also, this is just my list. These are my choices and not everyone will agree. That's the beauty of it. Let the second-guessing begin.

So, here they are -- the fifth annual Herbie Awards.

Best Running Backs
Reggie Bush, USC
Reggie Bush gets the Herbie for best running back.
Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
Gerald Riggs Jr., Tennessee
DeAngelo Williams, Memphis
Marshawn Lynch, Cal

Best Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson has the speed and hops to make the big play.
Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State
Robert Meachem, Tennessee
Derek Hagan, Arizona State
Dwayne Jarrett, USC

Top Offensive Linemen
Greg Eslinger, C, Minnesota
Greg Eslinger is simply dominating at center..
Max Jean-Gilles, G, Georgia
Davin Joseph, G, Oklahoma
Eric Winston, T, Miami
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, T, Virginia

Top Tight Ends

Marcedes Lewis is a matchup nightmare.
Marcedes Lewis, UCLA
Zach Miller, Arizona State
Dominique Byrd, USC
Greg Olsen, Miami
Jeff King, Virginia Tech
(Honorable Mention: Anthony Fasano, Notre Dame; Joe Klopfenstein, Colorado; David Thomas, Texas; Tim Massaquoi, Michigan)

*Note: This position is just way too deep and way too good this year. Tight end is a position that might be undervalued by the fans, but clearly offensive coordinators are taking advantage of that "tweener" athlete, the one who is too big to play wide receiver but too athletic not to take advantage of somehow. Players like these become difficult matchups for opposing defenses because of their rare combination of size and speed.

Top Quarterbacks
Old School (Classic dropback style) New School (Run and pass like Michael Vick)
Matt Leinart, USC Reggie McNeal, Texas A&M
Brian Brohm, Louisville Vince Young, Texas
Tyler Palko, Pittsburgh Brad Smith, Missouri
Chris Leak, Florida Marcus Vick, Virginia Tech
Brodie Croyle, Alabama Drew Tate, Iowa
Chad Henne, Michigan Troy Smith, Ohio State

Top Defensive Ends Top Defensive Tackles
Stanley McClover, Auburn Rodrique Wright, Texas
Ray Edwards, Purdue Dusty Dvoracek, Oklahoma
Darryl Tapp, Virginia Tech Jesse Mahelona, Tennessee
Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College Orien Harris, Miami
Mario Williams, NC State Gabe Watson, Michigan

Top Outside Linebackers Top Inside Linebackers
A.J. Hawk, Ohio State D'Qwell Jackson, Maryland
Chad Greenway, Iowa Abdul Hodge, Iowa
Ernie Sims, Florida State Spencer Havner, UCLA
Will Derting, Washington State Anthony Schlegel, Ohio State
Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech Aaron Harris, Texas
  George Hall, Purdue

Best Defensive Backs
Jimmy Williams, Virginia Tech Darnell Bing, USC LaRon Landry, LSU
Michael Huff, Texas Bernard Pollard, Purdue Scott Ware, USC
Charles Gordon, Kansas Donte Whitner, Ohio State Ko Simpson, South Carolina
Alan Zemaitis, Penn State Charlie Peprah, Alabama Nate Salley, Ohio State
Darrelle Revis, Pittsburgh Donnie McCleskey, Cal Pat Watkins, Florida State

Movin' On Up: Teams ready to step up to the 10-win plateau
Purdue -- With 19 starters returning and a favorable schedule, look for the Boilers to be in thick of Big Ten championship chase.
Texas A&M -- The Aggies have a third year in coach Dennis Franchione's system, a four-year starting QB in Reggie McNeal and they get Texas at home.
Alabama -- It all comes down to health. If Bama stays healthy (especially at QB), the Tide will be a surprise team in the SEC.
Oregon -- Expect Mike Bellotti and the experienced Ducks to make some noise in the Pac-10 after a few mediocre seasons. A veteran QB and replenished skill positions (read: loaded with tremendous athletes) will make sure of it.
Pitt -- Being in the newly redesigned Big East will allow first-year coach Dave Wannstedt -- who inherits a talented Pitt team led by QB Tyler Palko -- to make a great run this year.

Mark It Down
ACC Atlantic Florida State Boston College
ACC Coastal Virginia Tech Georgia Tech
ACC Champ Virginia Tech  
Big East Louisville Pittsburgh
Big Ten Ohio State Penn State
Big 12 North Colorado Iowa State
Big 12 South Texas A&M Texas
Big 12 Champ Texas A&M  
C-USA East UAB Memphis
C-USA West UTEP Houston
C-USA Champ UTEP  
MAC East Miami (Ohio) Ohio
MAC West Toledo Eastern Michigan
MAC Champ Toledo  
Mountain West Utah Colorado State
Pac-10 USC Oregon
SEC East Florida South Carolina
SEC West LSU Alabama
SEC Champ LSU  
Sun Belt North Texas Middle Tennessee
WAC Boise State New Mexico State

Top True Freshman
Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State
Derrick Williams will spark the Penn State offense.
Patrick Turner, WR, USC
DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon
Marlon Lucky, RB, Nebraska
Kevin Grady, RB, Michigan
Jamario O'Neal, DB, Ohio State
Kenny Phillips, DB, Miami
Justin King, WR/CB, Penn State
Fred Rouse, WR, Florida State

What's My Name: Players who will be household names by October

Brian Brohm is a name you'll know.
Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal
Michael Robinson, QB, Penn State
Willie Williams, LB, Miami
DeShawn Wynn, RB, Florida
Keith Rivers, LB, USC
Brandon Kirsch, QB, Purdue
JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
Courtney Lewis, Texas A&M
Greg Olsen, Miami

Best Student Section
The Gators always give their fans a reason to cheer.
Texas A&M
Notre Dame
(Wisconsin has always been one of my favorite places, but it lost serious points lately. Lighten up on the beer bongs. Have a little more respect for your opponents; and remember, there are kids around, too, so maybe yelling profanities in every other chant isn't such a good idea.)

Prettiest Coeds
Ole Miss
South Carolina

All Uniform Team: Players who just look good in their uniform
Offensive Team Defensive Team
QB - Vince Young, Texas DE - Mario Williams, NC State
RB - Reggie Bush, USC DE - Ray Edwards, Purdue
RB - Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma DT - Rodrique Wright, Texas
TE - Marcedes Lewis, UCLA DT - Dusty Dvoracek, Oklahoma
WR - Tedd Ginn, Ohio State LB - Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech
WR - Robert Meachem, Tennessee LB - Ernie Sims, FSU
C - Donovan Raiola, Wisconsin LB - Willie Williams, Miami
G - Matt Lentz, Michigan CB - Alan Zemaitis, Penn State
G - JB Closner, Alabama CB - Michael Huff, Texas
T - Jonathan Scott, Texas S - Nate Salley, Ohio State
T - D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Virginia S - Darnell Bing, USC

Best Uniforms
Texas (All white)
USC (Cardinal jerseys, Gold pants)
Penn State (Blue jerseys, White pants)
Miami (Orange pants, White top)
FSU (Garnet jerseys, Gold pants)

Top 5 GameDay Locations
Ohio State -- Rabid fans and, selfishly, my wife and kids get a chance to be there. But the Buckeyes' fans support our show as well as -- if not a little bit better than -- any other site.
Any SEC site -- It's too hard to separate Knoxville from Gainesville from Athens, but anytime we go to an SEC game I'm excited because I know we'll see a great game and the fans will make it an experience to remember.
USC -- I never thought I'd put a Pac-10 school on this list, but the Trojans' fans blew me away last year with their support. They showed up at 7:30 a.m. local time, and the thousands of Trojans fans let the nation know USC and the Pac-10 are to be taken seriously.
Virginia Tech -- Same old, same old. The Hokies' faithful always make this list because of their loyalty, knowledge of the game and respect for the game. Virginia Tech fans are as good as it gets.
Texas A&M -- It starts with 40,000 people gathering at midnight Friday for Yell Practice and continues with all the traditions, including the way they stand for the entire game and cheer on their Aggies.

Best Game-Day Coach*
Pete Carroll, USC
Pete Carroll takes care of ever little detail for USC.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Jim Tressel, Ohio State
Mack Brown, Texas
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Jeff Tedford, Cal
*Does all the little things right on game day, from adjustments to speeches to whatever is needed from the minute they arrive to the minute they leave.

Top Offensive Coordinators Top Defensive Coordinators
Al Borges, Auburn Jon Tenuta, Georgia Tech
Chris Peterson, Boise State Bud Foster, Virginia Tech
Gary Crowton, OregonBrock Spack, Purdue
Jimbo Fisher, LSUGene Chizik, Texas
Brian Stinespring, Virginia TechBob Gregory, Cal

Favorite Cities
Miami -- Great restaurants and, obviously, the weather.
Los Angeles -- See above. Every time I'm out on the West Coast I think I want to move there (well, I would if it wasn't so far from family and friends).
Salt Lake City -- A great city in itself, but if you enjoy the outdoors, you can't beat Park City (which is just a few miles up the road).
Austin, Texas -- Another town I could easily see myself living in if it just wasn't so hot.
Fort Collins, Colo. -- One of these days I'm going to learn how to fly-fish when I'm in Fort Collins.

Favorite Restaurants
Lil' Dooey in Starkville, Miss. (Barry Wood makes the best BBQ in the country)
The Palm in Atlanta
Mitchell's Steak House in Columbus, Ohio
Smith and Wollensky in Miami
Ruffinos in Baton Rouge, La.

Kirk Herbstreit

College Football analyst
Kirk Herbstreit has been an ESPN college football studio analyst since August 1996. Herbstreit, who joined ESPN in September 1995 as a college football sideline analyst for ESPN2, is also a game analyst for ESPN's Thursday night college football telecasts.