Demaryius Thomas (WR, Georgia Tech, 2006-2009)
Demaryius Thomas, or “Bay Bay” as he was affectionately known in his college years, was big, fast, and could usually catch. This made him a unique and fun weapon for Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense. In those early years of the option at Tech, 99% of the time Josh Nesbitt was taking the snap and running himself, handing it off to Jonathan Dwyer, or pitching it to Roddy Jones while Thomas lined up wide and blocked. But when you least expected it, Demaryius would go long and Nesbitt would heave the ball as far as he could in his best attempt at a “pass.” If Nesbitt managed to get the ball close, Demaryius would out-strength and out-jump the defense for a long gain. He was criminally under-utilized by Paul Johnson’s offense, but that made it all the more special when Thomas got a chance to show off the skills that would make him a first round pick and Super Bowl 50 champ. While in college he was an important piece of the 2009 Yellow Jacket team that won the ACC Championship, but soon had to vacate that title because he accepted clothing from an agent. Either way, for a Georgia Tech fan in the Paul Johnson era, Bay Bay provided an element of excitement that the triple-option sometimes struggles to produce.
Odell Beckham Jr./Jarvis Landry (WR, LSU, 2011-2013)
Yeah I know, I’m cheating by using two players for one spot, but anytime I think of one of these guys I can’t help thinking about the other. Flashback to 2012 me. I was young and naive to the talent that these two had. Landry and Beckham Jr. had decent years for an offense that had inexperience at QB (Mettenberger) and a really solid rushing attack. Skip forward to their junior years. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot more from the duo, but there was hope. LSU had Mettenberger with another year of experience and a recently hired “QB Guru” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. That year took the duo from mediocre to stardom. They combined for a total of 2,345 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns in 2013. Despite Beckham’s one-handed success in the NFL, I would say Landry had the more impressive catches while at LSU. It seemed as if every game they each made a play that would catch the attention of 100,000 in Death Valley and millions across the nation. Landry, Beckham Jr., Mettenberger, and Jeremy Hill created one of the most memorable offenses in LSU history and I am glad I was there to witness it all.
*The highlight includes Jeremy Hill runs, so that’s just an added bonus for you.
Reggie Bush (RB, USC, 2003-2005)
I hated USC growing up. They were too good and too pretty and too damn Hollywood. Still, try as I might, I couldn’t hate Reggie Bush. In the NFL he was just another fast guy, but in college Bush’s cardinal and gold uniform had him looking like Barry Allen surrounded by mere mortals. He could make a defender look like he just hit a banana peel on top of an ice patch or he could make it seem like the defender was running in quicksand, and he often did both in the same play. Against Fresno State in 2005 Bush had one of the greatest college football games of all time. He had over 500 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns while leading the Trojans to a 50-42 win. Heisman trophies can be taken away, but highlights never die.
Owen Schmitt (FB, West Virginia, 2005-2007)
Paired up in the backfield with Steve Slaton and Pat White, Owen Schmitt did the dirty work while delivering punishing blocks and hard-nosed carries. Originally a walk on at WVU, legend has it that Schmitt broke eight facemasks during his career. The 2006 and 2007 West Virginia teams were fun to watch (especially the offenses) and Schmitt was a huge part of that. The guy was a football player. Not to mention he was an absolute badass. See the video above to relive when he was called the “Runaway Beer Truck” during the Fiesta Bowl.