The Biggest College Sports Stars of the Past 20 Years, Ranked

From college legends like Tim Tebow and Reggie Bush to this era's superstars in Joe Burrow and Zion Williamson, we ranked the biggest college sports stars of the past 20 years.

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Deion Sanders has brought college football to the forefront of sports discourse with his start at Colorado. Whether you're a big sports fan or not, you've probably heard of Coach Prime in some capacity of late. It's hard to avoid him. He's a terrific coach but he's also an elite marketer and he's brought attention to the sport like no other. Colorado's recent double-overtime victory against Colorado State tallied 9.3 million viewers to make it the most-watched late-night college football game ever on ESPN. The fact Deion can have people staying up until 3 a.m. to watch  Colorado is an accomplishment in itself. 

Coach Prime's stardom and effect on college sports triggered the topic of other athletes & names who have caught the country's attention during their careers. From older college legends like Tim Tebow and Reggie Bush to this era's superstars like Angel Reese and Zion Williamson, there's always a few standout college athletes who steal the spotlight of America. 

The Complex Sports team put together a ranking of the biggest college stars of the past 20 years. The list was based off the players' impact within the sport but also how well they reached the outside sports audience who may not necessarily watch their sport. This is NOT a ranking based of how good the players were but their performance does factor into their fame. Coach Prime was an outlier as he is the only coach listed but his situation is unique and deserved placement on this list. College football does dominate the list as it's the most popular collegiate sport in America but other athletes were under consideration as well. 

14. Manti Te'o at Notre Dame

13. Vince Young at Texas

12. John Wall at Kentucky

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11. Caitlin Clark at Iowa

10. Angel Reese at LSU

9. Lamar Jackson at Louisville

8. Cam Newton at Auburn

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7. Joe Burrow at LSU

Twitter: @LSUfootball

6. Jimmer Fredette at BYU

Twitter: @ThrowbackHoops

5. Tim Tebow at Florida

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4. Zion Williamson at Duke

Twitter: @buckets

3. Deion "Coach Prime" Sanders at Colorado

2. Reggie Bush at USC

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1. Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M

Twitter: @ESPNCFB

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