The Season: The best at every school

One season can change everything. Johnny Manziel went from an unheralded recruit to a celebrity after one record-breaking trip through the SEC.

But long after the Johnny Football phenomenon has passed, Manziel's 2012 season will be remembered as the best in Texas A&M history.

Cam Newton can relate. After arriving at Auburn from junior college, Newton and the Tigers went on a legendary run, going undefeated and winning a BCS title, and Newton a Heisman Trophy, in his only season on the Plains.

The Season. That's what we set out to find. That one great season by an individual player that can be considered the best in the history of all 128 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

ESPN.com writers and editors, in consultation with sports information directors, settled on one player for each school.

Some players had better careers. Some had gaudier stats. But these players represent the one season that combined a great individual accomplishment with its impact.

Pick a conference: American | ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Conference USA | Independents | MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt

AMERICAN


Mardy Gilyard

Cincinnati: Mardy Gilyard, WR, 2009

87 catches for 1,150 yards; 1,074 kickoff return yards

Gilyard was Big East Special Teams Player of the Year and a first-team all-league selection at both receiver and kick returner. His 99-yard kickoff return against Pitt helped the Bearcats clinch a BCS bowl berth.

Honorable mention: Greg Cook 1968, Antwan Peek 2001, Isaiah Pead 2011


Donald Brown

Connecticut: Donald Brown, RB, 2008

2,083 rushing yards, 18 rush TDs

Brown shattered the Huskies single-season rushing record by more than 800 yards, becoming just the 14th FBS player to pile up 2,000 rushing yards in a season. He ran for at least 100 yards 11 times.

Honorable mention: Mark Didio 1991, Dan Orlovsky 2004, Jordan Todman 2010


Jeff Blake

East Carolina: Jeff Blake, QB, 1991

3,073 passing yards; 31 total TDs

Blake was instrumental in the greatest season in East Carolina history, leading the Pirates to an 11-1 record and No. 9 ranking -- the same place he finished in that season's Heisman Trophy voting.

Honorable mention: Robert Jones 1991, David Garrard 1999, Chris Johnson 2007


Andre Ware

Houston: Andre Ware, QB, 1989

4,699 passing yards; 49 total TDs

Houston's only Heisman Trophy winner -- and the first African-American QB to claim the award -- Ware broke 26 NCAA records his junior season, running the Cougars' run-and-shoot offense to near perfection.

Honorable mention: Manny Hazard 1989, David Klinger 1990, Case Keenum 2011


DeAngelo Williams

Memphis: DeAngelo Williams, RB, 2004

1,948 rushing yards; 23 total TDs

Williams led the FBS in rushing touchdowns and finished second in rushing during his junior season with the Tigers, compiling more than 2,200 all-purpose yards. He had at least 100 yards in 10 of 12 games.

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