The fastest players in college football, 2012

It’s time for Heismanpundit’s annual list of the fastest players in college football.

Now, some of you are going to disagree with parts of this, most likely by quoting a hand-timed 40-yard dash that you read about on some fan site, or a track time that can’t be independently verified.  And I get that some pretty fast players may not make it here. This is a very tough list to make and just because a certain player does not make this list, it does not mean I am saying he is not fast!

But I am basing this list upon hard data, meaning verifiable and relatively recent track times.  I am looking for speed, not quickness. If a mark is in the distant past and the player’s body composition has changed markedly or an injury has occurred, I take that into account.   I compile the data and combine it with my knowledge of track and field (I am an aficionado of the sport) as well as my own observations of how these players move on the gridiron, plus other factors such as weight gain and abundance of available data.

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 to 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 10.60 or better sprinter in the 40–-you already know he’s fast, probably in the 4.4 to 4.5 range!  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 foot speed.  And so on.  Remember: ‘Quick’ and ‘fast’ do not always go hand in hand. And having the ability to start and stop on a dime, or cut without slowing down are nice attributes to have but they are separate items from speed itself.

The track marks help give us a more accurate measurement of true speed. [Note: Most of these marks are taken from Track and Field News, the bible of the sport, while a few are culled if necessary from] We do take a few other factors into account to come up with what we think is an accurate list so it’s not necessarily just a matter of ranking players by best marks.  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.  There is no such thing as ‘football speed’ or ‘track speed’.  There is only speed. A player is either fast or he is not. Whether he is good at football or not is another story. So take another look.  Without further ado (and please, any additions are welcome if we overlook them), here is the list for 2012:

1. Marvin Bracy, incoming freshman, WR, Florida State — The long reign of Jeff Demps as the fastest man in college football is over. The new champ is in the process of chasing Demps’ junior 100-meter record of 10.01 set back in 2008. Bracy has had some hamstring issues as a senior, but has still come through with marks of 10.25 in the 100 (10.05 wind-aided), 21.02 in the 200 and 6.08 in the indoor 55m dash (a high school record). He’s a raw, emerging talent as a wide receiver, but he did well in the Army All-American All-Star Game and, to no surprise, his speed attributes were glossed over by commentators unfamiliar with his accomplishments in track and field. He has the ability to contribute right away for the Seminoles, but at some point he may have to decide between the gridiron and the track. No doubt, his future is bright in both.

Here’s a look at the fastest man in college football for 2012:

2. Marquise Goodwin, Senior, WR, Texas — Goodwin makes a compelling case to be considered the fastest man on this list and he is certainly the fastest proven player in college football, with 94 catches and 1,947 all-purpose yards in his career.  He is also a world-class long jumper who has a good chance to be competing in London this summer. His best 100m time is 10.38 (10.24 wind-aided), but he has soared 26-9 3/4 in the long jump (27-4 slightly wind-aided) while winning NCAA and USA Outdoor titles.

3. Dallas Burroughs, Sophomore, WR, Boise State — The fastest man ever to come out of Idaho, Burroughs blazed to a 10.34 100m and a 21.06 200m as a senior in high school. He got his feet wet as a true freshman in 2011, catching 9 passes for 175 yards and one score for the Broncos.

4. Miles Shuler, Sophomore, WR, Rutgers — Foster ran a 10.39 100m and a 6.35 indoor 60m as a high school junior. It’s not easy to put up those kind of marks in a cold weather state, where training days are limited, so it’s possible that he’s even faster than listed. Shuler carried the ball 6 times for 42 yards as a 2011 true freshman, but he should see more playing time in 2012.

5. Sheroid Evans, Sophomore, CB, Texas — Just a shade behind Shuler is Evans, a sophomore cornerback for the Longhorns who had 8 tackles and forced a fumble as a 2011 frosh. He’s a remarkable athlete with bests of 10.39 in the 100m, 20.82 in the 200m and 50.55 in the 400m hurdles.

6. Ronald Darby, incoming freshman, CB, Florida State — Darby and Bracy form the fastest incoming freshman duo in the country. Darby’s 10.41 100m is a bit behind Bracy’s, but his 21.05 200m is right there with his future teammate. He also has gone 6.77 in the indoor 60 and 6.28 in the 55. A former Notre Dame commit, Darby was one of the most highly-sought-after recruits in the country.

7. Damiere Byrd, Sophomore, WR, South Carolina — Byrd is a speedy wide receiver with a 100m best of 10.41 (10.36 wind-aided) and indoor best of 6.26 in the 55m and 6.70 in the 60m. He carried the ball 10 times for 73 yards and caught one pass for 16 yards as a 2011 true freshman.

8. D.J. Monroe, Running Back, Senior, Texas — Monroe is a former Texas state high school 100m champ with a best of 10.41 in the 100 meters. He had 326 rushing yards and 70 receiving yards for the Longhorns last season.

9. Skye Dawson, Senior, Wide Receiver, TCU — Dawson has bests of 10.41 in the 100 meters and 6.69 in the indoor 60m. He was a key contributor to the Horned Frogs’ 11-2 record last year, catching 45 passes for 500 yards and five scores.

10. Derrick Hopkins, Junior, Wide Receiver, South Florida — Hopkins is a lightning-quick smurf who has best of 10.43 in the 100m and 20.97 in the 200m. He caught four passes for 34 yards and had a 42-yard kickoff return for the Bulls in 2011.

Honorable Mention

Keep in mind that this is a group that is still very fast. In some cases, they did not make the final list despite higher nominal times because of a combination of factors like wear and tear, injury history, etc.

Rashad Ross, Sr., WR, Arizona State — 10.43 100m, 21.01 200m
Hunter Furr, So., RB, East Carolina — 10.46 100m, 21.15 200m
Justin Hunter, Jr., WR, Tennessee — 25-10 3/4 Long Jump
Andre Debose, Jr., WR, Florida — 10.46 100m, 21.31 200m
Devon Smith, Sr., WR, Penn State — 10.49 100m, 6.63 60m
Mike Bellamy, So., RB, Clemson — 10.51 100m, 21.12 100m
Bradley Sylve, RS Fr., DB, Alabama — 10.49 100m (10.18 wind-aided)
Robert Woods, Jr., WR, USC — 21.04 200m, 46.17 400m
Dior Mathis, So., DB, Oregon — 10.49 100m
Denard Robinson, Sr., QB, Michigan — 10.44 100m
Sheldon Price, Sr., CB, UCLA — 10.51 100m
Sammy Watkins, So., WR, Clemson — 21.11 200m, 10.57 100m (10.45 wind-aided)
George Farmer, So., WR, USC — 10.55 100m (10.40w), 21.41 200m
De’Anthony Thomas, So., WR/RB, Oregon — 10.57 100m, 21.01 wind-aided 200m
Marqise Lee, So. WR, USC — 25-1 long jump.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, 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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78 Responses to The fastest players in college football, 2012

  1. Wetterman May 7, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    You may want to take a look at Lace Seastrunk at Baylor. He might need to be on your list. He has a 10.33 in the 100. The kid broke 3 Texas High School records as a 13 year old 8th grader. (100, 400, and long jump

    • Heismanpundit May 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      Upon closer inspection, Seastrunk’s 10.33 actually never happened. At least, it wasn’t official.

      • Jalil Kuku July 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

        You may also want to add Amba Etta Tawo, incoming freshman to Maryland runs a 10.5

    • Travis August 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Lache Seashrunk, was booty. he has above average speed but the guys on this list are flat burners. He doesnt belong in their league.

  2. scott May 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Corderelle Patterson ran a 10.25 100yards at Juco track meet…signed with Vols.

    • Heismanpundit May 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      Scott, I checked on Patterson. Turns out that his times did not have a wind gauge and are thus not official. Any time you see a mark with an NWI next to it, the results is circumspect.

      • VT Duck May 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

        I’m guessing you mean “the results were suspect,” since “circumspect” makes no sense here.

        • Heismanpundit May 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

          Yes, thanks for the correction.

  3. Landon May 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    I’m curious where De’Anthony Thomas will land on this list in the next year or two as he develops even more.

  4. Chris May 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Morgan Steward Incoming freshman at Mizzou ran a 10.44

  5. Zach May 8, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    How about the Atkinson twins from Notre Dame?? They both competed in the Big East Championships this weekend and were invited to the Regionals.

    George had a 10.36 in the prelims and a 10.46 in the finals to finish 5th. The 10.36 was the 4th fastest 100m by a CFB player this season per ND’s Brian Hardin.

    Josh ran a 10.39 in the finals finishing 4th. This was good enough for the 5th fastest time by a CFB player this season in the 100m. He also qualified for the 200m finals.

    Each ran races that clocked as the fastest times of any freshman football player in the country, and what measured out to be the fourth and fifth fastest times by any college football player running track.

  6. Zach May 8, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    Another guy to keep an eye on for the Irish is incoming freshman Chris Brown from Hanahan HS in South Carolina. He has a national best 51’2″ triple jump that would have won this weekends Big East Championship. He ran a 10.51 100m in the regional qualifier for state and has a 7′ high jump this season. He’s one of the top track athletes in the country.

  7. Zach May 8, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Don’t forget that George Atkinson III ran that 10.36 at 6’1 215 lbs either which makes it even more impressive. Here’s a nice little article for comparisons sake to the best CFB player track times this year:

  8. Durden May 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Eddie Lovett (Florida), one of the world’s fastest 110m hurdlers, might be playing football for the Gators very soon. Keep an eye on him!

  9. jubelale May 9, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    DAT appears to be college football’s greatest accelerator on this list…catch him if you can

  10. John May 9, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Damiere Byrd actually beat Marvin Bracy and Ronald Darby in the 60 meters in his senior year. He also beat Miles Shuler in the 100 meters that year too.

    • Elijah June 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      He only has a faster 60 meter.

  11. Su4688 May 9, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    What about Markus Wheaton Oregon State, at least an honorable mention, he beat D’Anthony Thomas in the 100 last week with 10.52

    • HP May 9, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      That 10.52 was with a significant wind.

      • Todd December 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

        So how does that rationalize you putting DeAnthony Thomas on the list as an honorable mention? That doesn’t make any sense. Wouldn’t they not have both had the same wind at their back when Wheaton beat him?

    • Don September 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

      Keep in mind that the time listed here for DAT was one of his first collegiate races. He is not nearly as skilled in the finer arts of track racing. That clearly affected his time.

      When it comes to collegiate football, I don’t believe there is a faster player on the field than DAT. Sports Illustrated last week seemed to back up that claim.

  12. Colby May 9, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    This may be a list of the fastest players on track surface, running straight, with spikes on, but it certainly isn’t accurate when compared to running on a football field in-game. In that case, De’anthony Thomas is easily the fastest college football player.

    • HP May 9, 2012 at 11:57 am #

      This list contains verifiable marks run under similar circumstances. As such, De’Anthony Thomas and Marvin Bracy both ran straight, with spikes, on the same type of surface. We are able to see the results of their speed. You can say that Thomas is the fastest on the field, and you may be right, but you certainly can’t quantify it. The track marks helps us quantify.

      • Don September 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

        Once again, the race time that you are using was for one of DATs first ever competitive races. He does not have the track technique down that so many others on this list have. You cannot apply that to what he does on the field. And in a sense, you can quantify it. Watch his averages this year in yards per touch, TDs per touch and watch (this part is subjective) him blow by defender after defender, even when they have the angle on him.

        • Heismanpundit September 23, 2012 at 11:16 am #

          Thomas also ran track in high school and i have his times from there, too. And i have seen him get caught by guys a few times, include last night on a punt return.

  13. oregonweim May 9, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Wouldn’t a better title for this article be the fastest track athletes playing college football.

    • HP May 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      No. If you will, perhaps “We were able to quantify who is the fastest player because of this verifiable data” might’ve worked, too. If I gave you a list of the players with the highest vertical jump based on testing off the field, would you feel the same way?

      • cheswick September 22, 2012 at 11:49 am #

        This is a ridiculous article, to try and somehow translate track speed to football speed is silly at best. There are lots and lots of track guys on the nfl discard pile. Track speed does not automatically correlate to football speed. they are two totally different animals.

        There is track speed and football speed and they do not necessarily carry over. Some athletes when they put pads on, it directly impacts their speed and quickness. Others it doesn’t nearly as much.

        In football unless you are a WR it’s rare you run over 25 yds in a straight line. Thats why 40 times are so over rated. The shortest race in track is the indoor 60 meters…But other than that its 100 meters, 110 hurdles, 200 meters etc.those have NOTHING in common with the running, cutting, jumping and turning as in football.

        as i said…ridiculous article. For you to say there is only speed, not football speed is also ridiculous…take someone out of their singlet and 1 oz track shoes, and put 20 pounds of gear on and some track guys just can’t run nearly as fast.Yet some others it just doesn’t bother them. There is track speed and fotball speed.

        The fact that YOU are trying so hard to defend your silly premise, to me says you don’t really believe it either.

        • Heismanpundit September 23, 2012 at 11:15 am #

          There is no such thing as football speed. There is only speed.

          Almost every fast guy in football ran track. Some are good football players and some are not. All these ‘nfl discards’ you cite were discarded because they weren’t good football players, not because they ran track. In fact, it was their speed that got them their shot in the first place.

          You clearly have no understanding of track, athleticism or the concepts we are talking about here. Thanks for your time.

  14. Carlos May 9, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I disagree, there is a “track speed” and “football speed”. The main difference is that in football you run in 20 pounds of football gear. Therefore, the speed on a track (no gear) doesn’t necessarily translate over. This also brings me to my next point, why are 40 yard times assessed in a track like atmosphere (no gear)? When is the last time you saw a football player run down the football field in a game in shorts and a compression shirt without pads? Never. Sparq, and combine speed drills should be tested with gear for a true indication of speed.

    • HP May 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      If I gave you a list of tallest players in college football, would you then say that there is such a thing as football height?…that a player may be 5-8, but he’s actually 6-2 in his helmet?

      What you are saying may or may not be true. But you have no way of quantifying whether speed on a track is translating over or not. We only know one thing: That these guys are fast based on these verifiable data points.

  15. Hassan May 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    HP make a secondary list of the “fastest football speed”

    Totally subjective to what you see on the football field in live action or on tape. Of course some of these track guys look much slower with pads and grass. Guys like Sammy Watkins have a lot of both.

    Darrell Green #1 all time in FB and Track speed.

    • Heismanpundit May 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      I do not believe there is such a thing as ‘football’ speed. There is only speed.

      Now, if you wanted a list of guys who are fastest who we don’t have actual times on, then that’s another story.

  16. Steven May 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    Give DeAnthony Thomas a football and put him in pads. But him at one side of the endzone, then grab any other college football player and put him next to DeAnthony. I already know who wins 100% of the time. You can post your silly track times. Tell me the last time there was a gun in football. Are there starting blocks in football? NO, yet you use that as a gauge for football speed, not very smart.

    Should rename the article to “Fastest track athletes playing college football 2012”

    • HP May 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      The beauty of your hypothesis is that it is a fantasy. The beauty of my hypotheses is that it actually is rooted in reality. George Farmer, for instance, actually beat Thomas in a race, head to head. Now, luckily, Thomas will never have to face Farmer on the football field in a situation in which he would be chased down. Nor is that the case for most of the guys who are faster than Thomas on this list, as almost all of them play offense or are on a team that Oregon will not play. Hence, Thomas is most definitely faster than practically all of the players he will go up against and that notion is enforced when playing teams not exactly known for their footspeed on defense, like Stanford or Wisconsin. If you think that Thomas would outrun Bracy in a straight line on a football field, then you’ve got a lot to learn about speed.

      • Steven May 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

        Thomas had him owned in the first 50 meters, and isn’t that what the NFL uses to assess speed? So basically, we have these different metrics to determine who is faster. By your measurements, Farmer is faster, by the NFL’s DeAnthony is faster. Again, it’s such a volatile subject and your basis is so flawed. And yes if Thomas has a football in his hand and has an endzone in front of him, he will beat even your 10.3 100 meter guys. I liked the embedded youtube videos though, that was cool. Your headline is still severely misguiding.

        • Heismanpundit May 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

          They were running a 100m race, not a 50m race, which means that different strategies are employed. Had they been running a 50m race–which they weren’t–they would’ve run the race differently.

          No, the NFL does not use the 50 meter dash to assess speed. What the NFL does is it hand times some players in the 40 yard dash and not against each other, but under non-uniform circumstances, and then compares them. But they also look at track marks as well.

          My basis is not flawed, but it rests completely on hard data. What can be more fair than putting De’Anthony Thomas on a track and putting another guy on a track and seeing who gets to the finish line quicker at the same distance? If you want to argue that Thomas is ‘quicker’, fine. But quickness and speed are not the same thing.

          Your contention that Thomas would beat a 10.3 guy to the end zone over 100 yards has no basis in fact. It is merely your unsupported contention. And, as it stands, he has never gone against a defender who has run a 10.3.

          • Steven May 10, 2012 at 9:00 am #


  17. Profem May 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Mr. Heismanpundit,

    You are wrong in claiming that we “certainly can’t quantify” the idea of football speed. Of course we can. We just don’t have the quantitative data to do this right now. The NFL combine tries to do that to some degree, by measuring the 40 yd dash. There are better ways of truly mimicking the football context — putting gear on people, as Carlos suggests, or measuring acceleration over the first 20 yd, as jubelale suggests.

    There is obviously going to be a correlation between track speed and football speed (adequately measured), but that correlation will be lower within the high-speed range, and you may be surprised at how low it is between the first 20 yds and a full 100 or even 200 m (which you use as your basis for ranking players).

    One thing you could do to estimate this correlation between track speed and football-like speed is to compare some (fast) incoming freshmen’s track speed data to their NFL combine data 3-4 years later.

    • HP May 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Profem: The 40 yard dash at the NFL combine is a sham and uses imprecise timing methods and should not be considered anywhere near the realm of quantifiable data.

      Track times are measured under uniform conditions. If Marvin Bracy runs a 100m and Marquise Goodwin runs a 100m, they are both running on the same type of track, with the same type of shoes, with the same measuring device and with the same wind gauge. I’m not sure how you could come up with a more fair way to compare speed.

      Until players are tested with Fully Automated Electronic times, under uniform conditions, with uniform surfaces, and proper wind measurements, and in their uniforms….then the term ‘football’ speed is purely a subjective term.

      When that data is offered, I’ll be glad to accept it. But until then, there is only ‘speed’ and the only speed we can reliably measure and compare is that on the track.

  18. Paul R May 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    What a joke. Is this real? Today’s sports journalists are 20 year olds with blogs. Meh…

  19. judas_priest May 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Your method does offer the advantage of being quantifiable; what it’s missing is a level playing field, as it were, or perhaps better, a level track. Football players already in college had spring practice. The later a school’s spring practice, the less time a runner has to adjust his technique to track. Using De’Anthony Thomas as an example, he had less than a week of practice before his one and only meet thus far. High School runners didn’t have spring practice at all. If we assume that there are skills involved in sprinting, and that these skills can be honed by practice, then the later into the year the measurements are taken the less this differential amount of practice enters into the question.

    Yes, you have objective, verifiable measures. But of what? Wait until June and run the numbers again and see what changes.

    • Heismanpundit May 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

      The fact that college football players have greater time constraints upon them, which affects their ability to maximize their speed, is completely taken into account on this list, which is why someone like Bracy is at the top of this list, since he will retain the benefits of being in track shape well into the fall. Thomas is not very high on this list because he has not had a chance to hone his speed, but has instead been getting hit in practice, or trying to gain pounds via strength training. Just because one guy has an unfair advantage over another does not mean we can throw out speed comparisons between the two.

      You tell me to wait until June, but for what? I’m well aware of the timing of the track season. Thomas will run at the Pac-10 meet this weekend, but he will be running the 200m and it’s highly unlikely that he will qualify for NCAAs, which would enable him to keep improving his time. In fact, while times of these guys may change–like Bracy’s, for instance–I highly doubt the order will change much, which is why I put this out in May instead of June like I usually do.

      • judas_priest May 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

        The problem then is whether you are measuring something because you can or whether it is really what you should be measuring. You “doubt the order will change,” but that is a subjective judgment, precisely what you say you are trying to avoid by using only proven times. And since there is no agreed upon consensus about an operational definition of “fastest college football player,” there is no way of coming up with a final answer. I was simply commenting on the amount of noise in your seemingly exact measures. All I know is that I think rankings like this are of dubious value, however much fun they are to debate.

        Since my background is in distance running, I have no real idea about the mechanics of starting a race in a sprint.

        • Heismanpundit May 9, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

          My doubt that the order will change is an educated guess based on my knowledge of these players. If I am wrong, I’ll change the list.

          I agree there is no agreed upon definition of who is the fastest player, but one of my points is that this is because there is a general lack of knowledge out there when it comes to speed. Case in point, the stubborn reliance on 40 yard dash timings, which have been shown to be inaccurate. So, I contend that track marks SHOULD be the main criteria as they are the only data points created in a uniform, controlled environment. If these people also happen to play football, then we get to transfer the results of that data over to football.

          It’s no different than any other measurement. If we were measuring vertical jumps or bench presses, we’d go off of the data available. Is such data incomplete if 100% of the athletes are not tested? Perhaps. But we can’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.

  20. E May 10, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    I see you’re still using extrapolation of Goodwin’s long jump marks as justification for placing him so high on the list. Yes, he’s a world class long jumper. No, that doesn’t warrant him being second when he’s had verifiably slower marks in the 60m/100m than other guys on your list. I’m sure you’re well aware that the 10.32 you’re citing from the Texas Invitational on 4/14/12 was highly wind-aided (+3.5m/s) and his fastest non-aided time was a 10.42 last year at the Michael Johnson Classic. Based on your own criteria, Goodwin should be 8th behind Monroe. And Skye Dawson beat Goodwin head to head at the 2009 Texas Relays which I’m sure you’re aware of. Dawson’s fastest time in 100m was 10.41, which couple with his 6.69 should bump him up a few places on this list, ahead of Goodwin’s 10.42.

    It’s sad to see that you’re really slowly losing credibility.

    • HP May 10, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      This is not just a list of short sprint times by rank. Jumping 27 feet outweighs any given 100m time and this is something most experts will agree on as a speed indicator, especially as the 100m is something in which Goodwin dabbles. Note that he’s only run 10 100m races in his 4-year college career (by comparison, Dawson ran 6 in the one year he ran track at TCU). Goodwin ran a 10.38 in high school according to Dyestat (I admit the 10.32 is my error based on my trust of the Texas track web site) and a 10.41 according to T&FN. So both are either equal to or better than Dawson’s. But the long jump gives him the edge.

      Both Goodwin and Dawson have run 6.69 in the 60m dash. You are right that Dawson ran a 10.41 and that is my mistake and that is fixed.

      But Dawson also hasn’t run track since 2010 and Goodwin is still competing, which tells me he is faster NOW.

      As I wrote very clearly up above: We do take a few other factors into account to come up with what we think is an accurate list so it’s not necessarily just a matter of ranking players by best marks.

  21. Dude Come On May 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    You say above that the NFL combine is sham compared to track times because, “Track times are measured under uniform conditions. If Marvin Bracy runs a 100m and Marquise Goodwin runs a 100m, they are both running on the same type of track, with the same type of shoes, with the same measuring device and with the same wind gauge. I’m not sure how you could come up with a more fair way to compare speed.”
    One, they do not neccessarily have to be wearing the same type of shoes, not even the same weight when running track. Two, The NFL Combine uses the same automated timing instrument for official times on every player that runs there. Every player that runs the 40 at the Combine runs it on the same track. It is run inside a Dome, unless you want to measure velocity of the air conditioning(sarcasm) then a wind gauge is not needed. Why not just admit that you have some serious mistakes in the research methods you used to come up with this list and stop trying to sound smart when you are clearly ignorant. For one, using the 100M to judge the fastest football player doesn’t even make sense. You should instead focus on shorter distances, which is the reason why the football experts and not the track experts run the NFL Combine.

    • HP May 10, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

      Really? You are going to harp over track shoes? Most track shoes are pretty similar and fall within certain parameters for legality.

      As for the 40 yard dash at the combine, you are wrong. Those times are NOT fully automated, but are combinations of hand times and an electronic timer that is hand-started. In fact, 2012 was the first year that FAT timing was used by the NFL….but the results were not released because they didn’t want to hurt the players’ self esteem! This was an explicit acknowledgement that the 40 as currently devised is bogus. Here is the link:

      So, no, there are no serious mistakes in my methodology. Speed is speed and our best and most accurate measurements of such occur on the track, which is why many of the best scouts do indeed count on track times in their evaluations. Or do you think that scouts had to time Jeff Demps in the 40 before they knew he was fast? No. Read the link and maybe learn a little bit about track before you preach here. Thanks.

  22. Mani May 12, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    Marvin Bracy is on track, no pun intended, to being the fastest man in America. He would dust Sammy Watkins head-to-head on the track. That said, it will probably be a completely different story on the gridiron.

    Watkins has that rare burst and good size to go with it. Bracy hasn’t proven anything as a WR yet. As a Nole fan, I hope he proves me wrong.

  23. judas_priest May 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    Your major methodology mistake is assuming that which is measurable is what you want to measure. It’s a real world version of the old story about a guy who, late one night, sees a friend of his on his knees just off the sidewalk, obviously searching for something. There’s no moon and the friend is under the streetlight.
    “What’s wrong, Charlie?” he asks.
    “I’m looking for my car keys so I can drive home.”
    “Isn’t that you car 50 yards down the road?”
    “Yes, and I probably dropped therm there”
    “So why are you looking here?”
    “Because here I can see.”

    One problem is that no one really cares enough about “who the fastest college football players are” to set up a definition, create an operational measure from that and then spend the money to take the necessary measurements.

    I don’t really care either, but I do care about methodology and measurement – having taught the subject at the college level (entirely different area, though).

    • HP May 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      Measure what is measurable, as Galileo once said.

      Speed is measurable and we’ve got reams of reliable data from scores of skill players who have participated in events that are specifically set up to measure speed. What more could you ask for? It’s not like I am taking completely unrelated data points and applying them here.

      The problem is that there are people such as yourself who either can’t or won’t accept the results because they have pre-set biases, or are broadly unfamiliar with track and field (not uncommon in this era).

      People have cared enough for thousands of years to see who was fastest by holding races at various speeds. That has not changed. The fact that these guys also play football does not change their speed.

      • judas_priest May 17, 2012 at 10:56 am #

        You miss my point. I don’t really have another horse in this race. (The fact that I now live in Oregon and am familiar with De’Anthony Thomas does not make me a dedicated Duck. This is, after all, my 7th state).

        You are providing precise measures – it’s just that what you are measuring isn’t what I am interested in learning about and, I suspect, many others also lack this interest. Yes, you should measure what’s measurable, but you run the risk of rendering your results trivial.

        I think you are asking, “what can I measure?” than. “what ought I measure, and, if there is no good measure now, is there a way to measure it?” I do think you are right in that there is no way – at least at this point – to measure what most people want to know. (It’s certainly what I want to know) But that doesn’t make your results really meaningful, even if they are accurate. This disagreement between us has much more to do with measurement theory than it does with track or football. And that is where my horse is racing..

        (Oh yes. The fact that I have minimal background in sprints does not make me ” broadly unfamiliar with track and field.”)

  24. bcade May 13, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Martavis Bryant of clemson is the fastest person on the team so how is sammy watkins and mike bellamy in front of him get intouch with any coach on the team to verify

    • HP May 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      bcade, the answer is that Bryant is not the fastest player on the team.

      • Elijah June 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

        HP, I commented on the bottom, do you think he could make it on?

    • ?tion August 9, 2012 at 7:11 am #

      Also, Mike Bellamy isn’t on Clemson.

  25. Ron May 13, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    I don’t know what his official times are, but you should look at incoming freshman Jason Thomas at Ga Tech. The former Alabama commit was considered one of the fastest players in the South last year.

  26. Ron May 13, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    I’m sorry, that’s Justin Thomas, not Jason

  27. Karmel May 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    bcade – might want to check your stats. Can’t find anything or or to suggest M. Bryant is faster than Watkins or Bellamy. The latest from Clemson’s workout may suggest he’s faster than bellamy, but not Watkins –

  28. Karmel May 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    I have to echo the sentiments for the fastest twins in the ncaa. George and Josh Atkinson. Both these 2 were blazers their soph and jr. years in Cali. Their Senior yr of track was taken due to a coaching controversy at Granada HS I believe. George’s 10.36 and Josh’s 10.39 and 21.2 with a slight wind have to be consider even if just for the novelty of them being twins 🙂 Looks like ND has some serious speed coming in. Hearing a lot about this Chris Brown from So Carolina in the track comm. Also, Devonte Neal was one of the fastest kids in america from his elementary days up until his soph year in HS. Ran a 10.9 as a 9th grader. Not sure if he’s still running now or just all football.

  29. Justin May 14, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Why is the 40yd looked at so much if u have a good take off it can be difference of 4.4 or slower…some players are faster acceleraters and the 100 shows flatline speed look at a track race first 3 steps out the blocks clean one guy could be ahead but 80m down he could be last….speed is speed 40 is a lot of explosiveness and acceleration

  30. Will May 16, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Simple solution: put guys in full football gear, have them run varying distances… time them. End of story. What’s so difficult about that?

  31. Elijah June 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    You have to put Tyreek Hill at #2… 20.14, and on Marvin bracy’s behalf in the 200m when he PR with 21.02 he jogged the last 15 meters and ran into a -1.4 headwind. Should be taken into consideration if people think Bracy’s 100 is superb but his 200 is sub-par.

    • HP June 18, 2012 at 2:37 am #

      Problem is that it is not altogether clear that Hill will be playing football this fall.

      • Elijah June 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

        To my knowledge he will being signing with Georgia for both football and track… I hope. If he does I hope he makes the next or revised list. And at first I thought people have been losing their minds over De’Anthony Thomas for no reason because his 20.61 was wind aided his junior year, but the wind was 2.1, +.1 over the limit.

  32. Thomas June 30, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Well now, I stumbled across this little thread and couldn’t help but read through, as the arguments became more and more intriguing. I hate to beat a dead horse here, but it seems there were several factors passed over in the “football speed vs. track speed” debate. Some of these are understandably skipped due to the fact that they are simply not common knowledge.

    For instance, you won’t find most of this information on school websites but did you know defensive minded teams often grow their own grass out a fraction longer? It may not seem like a big deal, but you can certainly ask the players and find where they love and hate to run. Oregon, USC, and Clemson, each noted due to their mentioning on this list, have extremely short grass cuts at home. Where as the majority of the Big 12 and SEC have long cuts, possibly contributing to lack of mentioning in the “football speed” category.

    Did you take in to account the weather conditions at your home field? Oregon plays on a field that is generally far more damp than the majority of college football venues. Heightened moisture levels create slower acceleration for all players on the field. So how does this affect the game? It’s simple, reaction times. Offense is a move first scheme, while defense is all about reacting to what is seen. Who has the edge in these environments? The offense, the side of the ball that gets the first move, and already has the momentum before the defense is able to sluggishly react. Check out the Oregon games on film, you’ll notice the defense constantly in motion before the ball is snapped, one of the many little home field advantages for the Ducks.

    Now, with that being said, I must agree with HP’s argument that a track, under ideal conditions, is the only way to accurately measure “speed”, as comparable to other athletes. Does this mean an NFL team is going to rank players the same way? Not at all. There is obviously a 40 yard dash time at the combine, but that is simply to confirm, or defy, what is seen on the game films, such as the case of Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech this past draft, whose stock rose significantly because of his outstanding 40 time. Unfortunately, it would be near impossible to get all of college football’s premier runners at one location, at one time, wearing similar clothing, under the same weather conditions, and have them all sprint along side each other. So, college football’s fastest player is merely speculation. Everyone has their own team(s) to route for with their favorite players, and that’s what keeps this argument alive.

  33. michael psu July 3, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    What am I missing here? Was Shuler’s 6.35 60m a hand-held time? The WR is only 6.39 — by Maurice Green. If you’re going to get into comparing hand held times, good luck. Half of Va Tech runs sub 4.3 40s if you want to believe made up times 😉

    • Elijah July 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

      He must have meant 55m sir

  34. Jay July 12, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Late commenting, but just found this list. Awesome stuff.

    Another player with verifiable track speed is Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. He hasn’t run since high school, but I believe he ran a 10.47, though I think it was wind-aided.

  35. Nick August 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Orville reynolds at wake, ran a 10.38 his hs senior year and a 4.2 40

  36. mobes83 August 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Another to look at is Quincy McDuffie, but he hasn’t run since being a senior in HS and even then he was still recovering from a leg injury during the football season. He ran against the likes of Demps and kept up but he doesn’t get the attention cause he goes to UCF and they have no track program.

  37. MN September 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Ran into this link today on Twitter…

    I agree with a lot of the doubters here. This is a useless list.

    Track speed and football speed are two completely different concepts. You’re not ranking how fast these guys are in-game, simply how fast they are on a track. And you know what? Nobody cares. Just because the date is easily quantifiable doesn’t mean that it’s useful.

    The fact is, track speed is about practice. It’s about the start. It’s about being in track shape.

    Thomas, an oft-cited example here in the comments, is obviously faster than most of these guys on the football field. Football players don’t run in straight lines very often. These guys cut, juke, accelerate and start/stop on virtually every play. Flexibility is essential.

    You can argue all you want about hard, quantifiable data but in the end this list is absolutely useless.

    • Heismanpundit September 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Just because you don’t understand the concepts being discussed here does not mean the info is useless.

      • MN September 22, 2012 at 11:18 am #

        In fact I do understand the concepts. It’s very clear: running on a track is different than running in the game of football.

        Is this a serious website? After reading your response, I doubt your ability to create cogent content on this blog.

        • Heismanpundit September 23, 2012 at 11:13 am #

          Speed is speed. Like any measurable, its ability to be translated to the football field depends on the player. There are plenty of fast guys who are not good football players. It does not make them any less fast.

  38. Mike October 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    I submit Dri Archer from Kent State, and his 99 yard kickoff return, that he did in 10 seconds….and started to let up at the 10 yard line…..


  1. Oregon Ducks rundown: De’Anthony Thomas not ranked among Top 10 fastest players in college football | Eugene OR DIRECTV Service - May 9, 2012

    […] runs as The University of Oregon faces Missouri State University at Autzen Stadium. The website put together its annual list of the Top 10 fastest players in college […]