The All-Time Michigan State NFL Team

Bubba Smith, Morten Andersen and more

Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler put their stamp on the Big Ten as a ground conference. Physical, smash-mouth football was the preferred form of attack. You ran the ball to survive in the Big Ten.

So how does one explain Michigan State evolving into Wide Receiver U?

Yes, Michigan State.

The Spartans have produced two NFL receiving champions, Dick Gordon in 1970 and Muhsin Muhammad in 2000. Both Muhammad and Derrick Mason crafted 100-catch seasons. Muhammad, Mason and Andre Rison all caught in excess of 10,000 yards in career passes.

Plaxico Burress caught a 13-yard game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute of New York’s 17-14 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots in 2008, and Mark Ingram caught team-highs of five passes for 74 yards in New York’s 20-19 Super Bowl victory over the Buffalo Bills in 1991. Ingram also caught the infamous fake spike from Dan Marino that beat the New York Jets in 1994.

Rison, Muhammad, Mason, Gordon, Gary Ballman and Gene Washington were all multi-Pro Bowl selections at wide receiver. Washington was the eighth overall pick of the 1967 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. 

Dorne Dibble helped the Detroit Lions win two NFL championships in the 1950s with his hands. Daryl Turner led the NFL with 13 touchdown receptions in 1985 and caught a staggering 36 TD passes in his 101 career catches covering four seasons. He still holds three receiving marks in a Seattle record book otherwise owned by Hall of Famer Steve Largent.

But the best Michigan State wide receiver of all never caught a pass in the NFL. 

Kirk Gibson was the perfect NFL receiver prospect at 6-3, 215 pounds with 4.29 speed. But he became a first-round draft pick in baseball and his power and speed helped both the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series. Still, Gibson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2017.

Here’s the all-time Michigan State NFL team:

QB–Earl Morrall, 1968 NFL MVP

*-HB–Le’Veon Bell, 3 Pro Bowls, 2014 AFC rushing champion

FB–Clarence Peaks, 9 seasons, 1960 NFL champion

WR–Muhsin Muhammad, 2 Pro Bowls, 2000 NFL receiving champion


WR–Andre Rison, 4 Pro Bowls 10,205 receiving yards

TE–Fred Arbanas, 1960s AFL all-decade team

T–Flozell Adams, 5 Pro Bowls

*-T—Jack Conklin, 2 Pro Bowls

G–Joe DeLamielleure, Hall of Fame

G–Ed Budde, 1960s AFL all-decade team

C–Rich Saul, 6 Pro Bowls

DE–Bubba Smith, 2 Pro Bowls, 1971 Super Bowl champion

DE–Bill Quinlan, 9 seasons, NFL champion 1961-62

DT–Jim Kanicki, 9 seasons, 1964 NFL champion

DT–Domata Peko, 15 seasons, 194 starts, 20 sacks

LB–George Webster, 1960s AFL all-decade team

LB–Brad Van Pelt, NY Giants Ring of Honor

LB–Carl Banks, 1980s NFL all-decade team

CB–Herb Adderley, Hall of Fame

CB–Lonnie Sanders, 7 seasons, 12 interceptions

S–George Saimes, 1960s AFL all-decade team

S–Bill Simpson, 9 seasons, 34 interceptions

K–Morten Andersen, Hall of Fame

P–Brandon Fields, Pro Bowl, 9 seasons, 46.7-yard average 5th best in NFL history

KR–Derrick Mason, 2 PR touchdowns, 1 KR TD

ST–Ty Hallock, 7 seasons

*-Still active

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