The Fastest Players in College Football, 2010

It’s time for our annual list of the fastest players in college football. Now, some of you are going to disagree with parts of this, probably by quoting a hand-timed 40-yard dash that you read about somewhere on some fan site.

But I am basing this list upon hard data, meaning verifiable and relatively recent track times.  If a mark is in the distant past and the player’s body composition has changed markedly, I take that into account.   I compile the data and combine it with my knowledge of track and field (I am an afficionado of the sport) as well as my own observations of how these players move on the gridiron, plus other factors such as injuries and weight gain.  This list recognizes that most of the 40-yard dash times reported out there are bogus, due not only to inaccurate and scurrilous timing methods (a strength coach’s thumb being the main arbiter most of the time), but also because they are run under widely disparate and unreported conditions that render them unreliable.

The list is not about anecdotal evidence, but quantifiable data that we can verify.  Track marks are generated under mostly uniform conditions (across a narrow range of parameters) with reliable timing instruments.  While it is true that some players without a track time might indeed be very fast on the football field, it is difficult to accurately measure their speed compared to players who do have such times. So those are the players we stick with on this list.

Also, some of you will question the relevance of these marks when it comes to football, as in “Why does it matter if a football player can run a fast 200 meters when a football field is 100 yards?”  The answer is that each track event provides us clues as to the overall speed potential of an athlete.  A certain 100-meter time relates to a certain 40-yard dash mark.  There’s basically no need to time a 10.6 or better sprinter in the 40–-you already know he’s fast!  A good 200-meter time indicates an athlete’s ability to maintain his speed (and hence, go ‘downtown’ on the football field). When someone long jumps a certain distance, it is often because he possesses excellent footspeed.  And so on.

Track marks help give us a more accurate measurement of true speed. Oh, and most of these guys are pretty darn good football players, too.  Think track and football don’t mix?  Well, at HP they do.  So take another look.  Without further ado (and please, any additions are welcome if we overlook them), here is the list for 2010:

1. Jeff Demps, RB, Florida–There’s really no doubt on this one.  No one else is really even close.  I posited when he first started at Florida that he would be the fastest player to ever play college football.  Nothing has shaken this belief since, even though Trindon Holliday ran faster last year while Demps recovered from injury.  When you look at the trajectory of his sprinting career, Demps will end up being the standard for speed in college football.  His best legal mark in the 100 meters is 10.01 (the fastest-ever junior time by an American), but he recently won the NCAA 100m title in a wind-aided (2.5 mps) 9.96, which is currently merely the 12th best time in the world (under any conditions).  Mind you, he destroyed the field despite spending last fall orienting his body for playing football (while the rest of his competition trained for track).  Couple those 100m marks with a 6.56 in the 60-meter indoor dash (where he also won the NCAA title) and you’ve got the rarest of combinations:  a truly world class athlete who also is a legitimate college football player, with a two-year total of 1,350 rushing yards (7.6 ypc) and 14 touchdowns, plus another 23 receptions and a couple punt blocks.  Here he is on the track:

And on the gridiron:

2. Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas–Goodwin is another athletic phenom in the Demps mold who could one day be a huge name in track and field.  Just a freshman, he is the newly-minted NCAA long jump champ and also is the U.S. high school record holder with a best of 26-10.  To illustrate how the long jump can translate to overall speed (and vice versa), he ran a 10.09 as a junior in high school (10.43 this year, for training purposes) and 6.69 in the indoor 60m.   But he’s not just a track guy, as he was rather impressive as a young wide out for the Longhorns, catching 30 passes for 279 yards and a score, while playing a key role in the win over Oklahoma (he also returned a kickoff for a score against Texas A&M).  Look for bigger and better things from him this year…unless he decides that track is his true calling.

Read the rest of the list after the jump…

3. Luther Ambrose, WR, Louisiana-Monroe–How I missed Ambrose in my first go-around on this list, I’m not sure, but let’s put him here in his rightful spot, just a shade behind Goodwin.  He finished third (to Demps) in the NCAA 100m dash this past June and has bests of 10.22 (10.12 wind-aided) in that race and 20.89 in the 200m.  He has also run 6.70 in the Indoor 60m and 24-4 in the long jump.   As a sophomore on the gridiron, he caught 34 passes for 455 yards and four touchdowns and added another 311 yards and a score on the ground.   He is also a dangerous kick returner.

4. Conroy Black, CB, Utah–Black, a junior, redshirted for the Utes last year after transferring in from Fullerton (Calif.) Junior College.  He has bests of 10.30 in the 100m and 20.98 in the 200m.

5. Randall Carroll, WR, UCLA–Carroll is just a year removed from running 10.30 in the 100m (the nation’s top high school time in 2009) and 21.06 in the 200m as a high school senior.  He only caught three passes for the Bruins as a true freshman, but word is that he made great strides this past spring and should be a factor in the UCLA offense.

6. Skye Dawson, WR, TCU–Dawson has bests of 10.41 in the 100m, which he ran this year at the Mountain West Championships, and 6.71 in the indoor 60m.  He carried the ball 13 times for 111 yards as a 2009 freshman

7. T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State–Graham retains bests of 10.44 in the 100m (10.21 wind-aided) and 20.82 in the 200m.  He has 31 catches in two seasons for the Wolfpack and returned a kickoff for a touchdown last year, too.

8. Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami–The Miami tradition of football/track guys is alive and well with Benjamin, who finished third in the 100m at the ACC Outdoor Championships with a wind-aided 10.40.  He was also fourth in the Indoor ACC meet with a time of 6.74 in the 60m.  On the gridiron, he caught 29 passes for 501 yards and four touchdowns this past season.

9. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan–It’s not often you find a quarterback who can run 10.44 in the 100 meters, but Robinson is one of them.  No word on whether his laces were tied or not.  Rich Rodriguez said he really improved this past spring, so look for him to build upon his 351 rushing yards and 181 passing yards he totaled as a true freshman.

10. Hunter Furr, RB, North Carolina–Furr played sparingly as a true 2009 freshman, gaining just six yards on three carries and collecting four tackles on special teams, but his speed is not in doubt.  He has bests of 10.46 in the 100m and 21.15 in the 200m.

Excluded from consideration due to unresolved injury questions or transfer: Lamaar Thomas, New Mexico; Robert Griffen, Baylor; Andre DeBose, Florida

Very fast, but didn’t quite make the cut: Robert Woods, USC; Chris Rainey, Florida; Sheldon Price, UCLA: LaMichael James, Oregon; Devon Smith, Penn State; James Rodgers, Oregon State; Donald Buckram, UTEP; Lindsey LaMar and Derrick Hopkins of USF; LaMar Miller, Miami; Terrance Tolliver, LSU; Tyron Carrier, Houston; Deonte Thompson, Florida; Sam McGuffie, Rice; Jheraine Boyd, North Carolina; Chris Owusu, Stanford; Shane Vareen, California.

Please feel free to make additions/suggestions for this list in the comments sections.  I will try to adjust as the summer goes on.  Please provide data to backup your claim so we can make this list as comprehensive and accurate as possible.  Thanks!

2009 Fastest Players

2008 Fastest Players

2007 Fastest Players

About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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32 Responses to The Fastest Players in College Football, 2010

  1. Hoag June 24, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Definitely should have included Lache Seastrunk as an honorable mention. Fastest RB in this incoming class.

  2. HP June 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    I have no doubt that Seastrunk is fast, but his best time is a 10.59 as a sophomore and he ran 10.81 as a senior. The fastest back in this freshman class might be USC’s D.J. Morgan, who ran 10.61 as a junior and 13.28 in the high hurdles to win the world junior title in that event. However, he is recovering from knee surgery.

  3. AZSooner June 24, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    Nice list HP, however you might want to add Trey Franks to your list, or at least your “Very fast, but didn’t quite make the cut”. A incoming freshman at Oklahoma he is blazing fast. Franks ran the second-fastest 100 meters in Texas high schools this season right behind Rowlett’s Marquise Goodwin at 10.38. He bettered Kendall Cleveland’s 15-year-old hand-held 100-meter school record of 10.21.

  4. Anonymous June 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Honorable Mention Cobi Hamilton Arkansas. Run track to. From Texas HS 4×200 relays

    http://www.flotrack.org/videos/coverage/view_video/234961/184427

    He’s the anchor.

  5. Hoag June 25, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    100m dash is a pretty weak way to determine “football” speed. There’s a reason 40 times are much more common.

  6. HP June 26, 2010 at 2:44 am #

    Hoag, it is the best way and the most accurately measured. Speed is speed.

  7. Ryan Anderson June 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Honorable mention: Branden Smith UGA, 10.62 100 meters, Rivals recruiting ranking as the fastest corner in the 2009 class.

  8. ADP June 27, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    You know, track times are cool and all, a good way to measure how fast someone is…in minimal spandex uniforms, track shoes, out of a block, on a track. Last time I checked, none of these things happen during a football game.

    I mean seriously, if you want to know how fast a guy is on the football field put him in pads and then make him run the length of the field, all 100yds. Oh yeah, another big point, I think the 10 yd splits are another set of data that can be used more. They’ll tell you how long it takes a guy to get up to full speed and whether he has that ‘extra gear’ to pull away from defenders.

  9. Heismanpundit June 27, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    ADP: Unfortunately there is no venue in which we can watch Jeff Demps race Marquise Goodwin in full pads. The best we can do is to take reliable existing data to figure it out. We will never see these two guys race on the football field, so track is very relevant when gauging their relative speeds.

  10. mikey4 July 2, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    Marquise Goodwin is fast, but he isn’t even the fastest player for the Longhorns, let alone the second-fastest player in college football. D.J. Monroe, a teammate of Goodwin’s at Texas, is faster than Marquise Goodwin.

  11. Amy July 6, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    HP — not sure how Houston’s Tyron Carrier matches up with these in your top 10 as far as track speed goes, but it should be mentioned that he is an incoming junior who is already three kickoff returns for TDs away from breaking CJ Spiller’s NCAA career record. He will have two seasons to try to break this career record. I would also like to point out that fast guys aren’t always so fast when they put the pads on and according to his QB, Tyron is one of the fastest in pads he’s ever seen. He’s been called a wide receiver who also runs track as opposed to a track runner who also plays wide receiver, if you catch the comparison that a lot of football analysts make. Tyron’s only drawback, with regard to a future in the NFL, is that he’s only 5-7, but he has a great vertical leap. If you’re interested in what it is, I can probably find out.

    Great list. Thanks.

  12. Amy July 7, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    According to this story, Carrier runs a 4.29 40 and has a 39-inch vertical leap.

    http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl/2009_4780071/uh-has-super-fast-carrier-5-8-receiver-balances-fo.html

  13. kip July 20, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    What about Brandon Saine out of Ohio State? He ran a 10.38 100m in high school. and ran a 6.79 60m (he is also the 2006 high school national champion in the 60m). what makes all of this really impressive is that he is 6’1” 220.

    • Heismanpundit July 20, 2010 at 9:08 am #

      He was on the list a couple years ago, but added weight and being banged up has clearly taken its toll.

  14. King Bevo August 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    You might want to check out DJ Monroe from Texas. Not sure what his track times are but I think he looks faster with a football in his hands than his teammate Goodwin and you have him as your #2.

    BTW….both plan on lining up next to each other this year to return kicks. Lovely.

    • cas July 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

      Dj ran a 10.08 in high school

  15. King Bevo August 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw6EWrxzZfc

    Granted it’s ULM but Monroe is leaving a trail of smoke here on his first touch of college football last year. Got into trouble and missed much of the year before getting some touches in Title game against Bama.

    Are there really 10 guys faster than him?

  16. Grego October 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    Josh Harris, a redshirt freshman at Wake Forest ran a 10.09 100m when he was in high school in Duncanville Texas. He has was also clocked at 4.25 in the 40 over the summer. This kid can straight fly.

    http://wakeforest.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=916647

    • Heismanpundit October 12, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

      His 10.09 is illegitimate as it was handheld and had a 5 mph wind! He may be fast, but he’s not that fast.

  17. derek November 16, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    Where is patterson former usc now cu? He was on your list all the other years

  18. cerebralfish January 17, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    Bert “speed” Reed at FSU I’ve heard is faster in game than Jeff Demps.

  19. str8_ballers! September 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    2011-2012 class athletes at southwestern college in (Chula Vista, ca) entering in colleges pretty soon may be ones to watch, not so much 100, 200 meter dash, but in the 40 yard dash, Tyrone Richardson CB clocked at a blazing 4.25 in summer training. Followed by an athlete many are anxious to watch, Sebastian Smith WR who has said to be clocked at a 4.28 in the 40 yard dash, 10.78 in the 100-meter dash, and 22.0 in the 200-meter dash. Look out for these stand out athletes in the upcoming years!

  20. terry hunt September 20, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    Torrance Hunt RB at ECU ran the second fastest electronic 40 yd dash i know about… 4.25 Nike Combine in Baltimore.. It’s on youtube… finished 2nd at Nike Nationals in 60m prelim. 6.70×2 finals 6.72 2nd to Penn States Devon Smith you ran a blazing 6.73.. Beat Hunter Furr every time they raced, but blew his finals in the NC state tournament, although his prelim of 10.61 was the fastest all day. Furr won with a 10.77. also Torrance has a 41′ vertical.. All this can be verified on any website.. And he’s only ran track 2 years, as a jr. and sr. in high school… Was the Nike Sparq Mvp that year…

  21. terry hunt September 20, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Devon Smith’s blazing 6.63 in 60m sorry…

  22. Jose October 1, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    How about Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez

  23. Ron Wagner January 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Devon Thomas of the Oregon Ducks, looks faster than anyone I have ever seen. Denard Robinson of Michigan does not look as fast to me, and I am a Michigan fan.

  24. cas July 19, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    Terrance franks texas st 4.35 40 ran 4X100 in hs with dj monroe quandre diggs of UT and ryan jackson of UH

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