By Robert Weintraub

No sport is more closely associated with its feeder system than the NFL. Where a pro player played college ball is a major part of his bio, as the introductions every Sunday night on NBC prove. Discussions of alma maters, and which is best, are the lingua franca of the sport, in locker rooms and on practice fields across the league.

But one question seldom asked is what player best represents each program on Sundays. So I've decided to remedy that by figuring out the best player, right now, from each of the automatic qualifier conferences from the BCS (may it rest in peace).

In some cases, it's not difficult to determine, either because of a singular talent or a paucity of players from a given school. But in many cases, it is surprisingly tough choice.  

I also named the best player from each school in 2012, in order to really get a sense of how transitory the NFL. Only fifteen (and a half, due to a tie) of 75 players repeated as their school's standard bearers.

Since lettermen alumni jackets retain a certain retro-chic, as the Texans showed last season, the best player from each school is awarded an alumni jacket in school colors. In time, these should become as coveted and iconic as the green blazers given to the annual Masters champion.

And the winners are...

drum roll please...

Peyton Manning is still arguably the best QB in the NFL, so yes, he's still the SEC's best active alum. (Getty Images)



2012 -- Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
2013 -- Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo

Despite Nick Saban's rep as a coach who runs a pro-ready program, there are a ton of underachieving Tide grads in the NFL (Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram, Dee Milliner, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont'a Hightower, Mike Johnson, and on and on), and with 36 players in the league, there are bound to be some busts. With Jones, the lone Bama superstar, missing the bulk of the season to injury, a tight race for the crimson and cream alumni jacket (replete with elephant crest) ensued. Dareus edged rookies Eddie Lacy of Green Bay and D.J. Fluker of San Diego, along with Andre Smith of Cincinnati and Mark Barron of Tampa, for the coveted title.


2012 -- George Wilson, S, Buffalo
2013 -- Jason Peters, T, Philadelphia

Oh, what might have been. The Hogs' three-headed monster backfield from days gone by -- Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and Peyton Hillis - -have all been injury-plagued disappointments in the pros, other than occasional moments of glory. That leaves a nice bounceback season for Peters, a former great who missed all of 2012 with an Achilles tendon injury, wearing the alumni jacket.


2012 -- Ben Grubbs, G, New Orleans
2013 -- Cam Newton, QB, Carolina

Newton reclaims the War Eagle-emblazoned alumni jacket that he won in his rookie season of 2011 but gave away in embarrassing fashion last year, to a guard, of all things.


2012 -- Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh
2013 -- Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland

Both Tim Tebow and Aaron Hernandez have been asked to hand back their alumni jackets, in case you were curious. Haden's superior lockdown skills give him the slight edge over Cincinnati teammates Reggie Nelson & Carlos Dunlap and Eagles wideout Riley Cooper in a group that isn't nearly as strong as the Gators' rep would have you believe.


2012 -- Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati
2013 -- A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati

Probably the most underrated alumni group (and they roll deep, with 46 players), there are outstanding Dawgs all over the league, which merely spotlights the underachieving in Athens, but that's another story. Green's greatness means the alumni jacket doesn't leave the Queen City even after Geno's unfortunate knee injury. But plenty of other guys had arguments, including K.C.'s Justin Houston, Minnesota's Blair Walsh, Carolina's Thomas Davis & Charles Johnson, Denver's Knowshon Moreno, and Alec Ogletree of St. Louis. Whew -- good thing the ultimate decision is made by a Bengals fan (that would be me).


2012 -- Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay
2013 -- Danny Trevathan, LB, Denver

Trevathan has been Denver's best defensive player this year. Unfortunately, no one pays any attention to Denver's defense.


2012 -- Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona
2013 -- Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona

Forty Bayou Bengals ply their trade in the NFL, yet none of the other 39 could pry the alumni jacket from the nonpareil Peterson. Had Tyrann Matheiu stayed healthy, the vote would have been interesting between the Cardinal teammates.


2012 -- Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco
2013 -- Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco

Unlike his brother, Eli Manning hasn't exactly built a reputation as a great regular season quarterback, thus his closet is empty of crimson and blue alumni jackets. The Rebs' other famous alum, Michael Oher of The Blind Side fame, neither owns an alumni jacket nor plays on the blind side. Willis owns this award for the foreseeable future.

Mississippi State

2012 -- Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis
2013 -- K.J. Wright, LB, Seattle

Ballard was the quintessential one-year wonder at running back, the guy who slashes his way into the hearts of fantasy owners everywhere only to disappear the following season due to injury or regression. Wright, a steady starter on a superb defense, is now injured, but did enough to stand out from a surprisingly weak alumni crop.


2012 -- Aldon Smith, DE/LB, San Francisco
2013 -- Sheldon Richardson, DT, New York Jets

Smith's legal troubles are a perfect example of why these alumni jackets change hands so frequently -- year-to-year excellence in the NFL is incredibly difficult to maintain. The "other Smith brother," Justin, has lost a bit of his relentlessness to age, while William Moore and Sean Weatherspoon have gone down the tubes in Atlanta. So Richardson, a controversial pick among Jets fans who wanted offense from last spring's draft, gets the nod for his sturdy season in the interior of Gang Green's front. Look for Dorrial Green-Beckham to own the blazer when he arrives in 2015.

South Carolina

2012 -- John Abraham, DE, Atlanta
2013 -- Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago

Jeffery had a disappointing final season in Columbia, but has emerged this year as the talent most expected him to be after a sensational sophomore campaign.  


2012 -- Peyton Manning, QB, Denver
2013 -- Peyton Manning, QB, Denver

What, you thought it was going to be Matt Simms?

Texas A&M

2012 -- Von Miller, LB, Denver
2013 -- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami

Miller conspired with a league-approved drug collector to hand the alumni jacket over to Tannehill, who despite his steadily improving play is far less talked about than the current Aggies quarterback, who may challenge for the alumni jacket as soon as next season.


2012 -- Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago
2013 -- Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis

Cutler nosed out Packers corner Casey Hayward a year ago, but with both banged up in 2013, Stacy burst in to grab the alumni jacket.  

Emmanuel Sanders is having his best season for the Steelers, but more importantly, he's our back-to-back SMU award winner. (Getty Images)


Central Florida

2012 -- Asante Samuel, CB, Atlanta
2013 -- Matt Prater, K, Denver

The Falcons got Samuel for a song (a 7th rounder) before the 2012 season, and got his last alumni alumni jacket-worthy season as well. Prater clinched this title by banging home that NFL-record 64-yard field goal.  Blake Bortles reportedly is having a tailor size him for future alumni jackets as we speak.


2012 -- Kevin Huber, P, Cincinnati
2013 -- Kevin Huber, P, Cincinnati

The Eagles love them some Bearcats, but none of the quartet of Trent Cole, Conner Barwin, Brent Celek, and Jason Kelce have impressed much the last two seasons, while Huber emerged as one of the sport's best punters. The alumni jacket should hopefully make him forget the broken jaw he suffered last week in Pittsburgh.


2012 -- Robert McClain, CB, Atlanta
2013 -- Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis

Brown was basically written off after a series of missed blocks, dating back to the "Damnit, Donald!" incident. But the ridiculous acquisition of Trent Richardson lit a fire under Brown, enabling him to regain the lion's share of the workload.


2012 -- Sebastian Vollmer, RT, New England
2013 -- Donnie Avery, WR, Kansas City

With Vollmer and Oakland's top draft choice D.J. Hayden injured, the Cougs' alumni jacket goes to Avery by a slim margin over Texans backup QB Case Keenum.


2012 -- Elvis Dumervil, DE, Denver
2013 -- Elvis Dumervil, DE, Baltimore

If only we could send Elvis his alumni jacket by fax...


2012 -- Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England
2013 -- Dontari Poe, DT, Kansas City

As Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom once said of Nic Cage's character in Con Air: "Nice work, Poe. Truly nice work."


2012 -- Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore
2013 -- Jeremy Zuttah, C, Tampa Bay

A tricky one. Rice was already showing signs of accumulated hits wearing him to a nub last season, but managed to earn one more alumni jacket before free-falling this year. Mo Sanu and Tiquan Underwood are a wash as third-receiver options, and neither McCourty brother, Devin or Jason, fills anyone with confidence. So give the title to Zuttah, a quality, durable center who made it through the poisonous first half of Tampa's season without any stench rubbing off on him.

South Florida

2012 -- Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants
2013 -- George Selvie, DE, Dallas

JPP fell off mightily after his dominant 2011, but was still good enough last year to keep his alumni jacket. But this time around he needs to hand it over to his old Bulls bookend, Selvie, who has been one of the few bright spots on the Cowboys defense.


2012 -- Muhammed Wilkerson, DT, New York Jets
2013 -- Muhammed Wilkerson, DT, New York Jets

Wilkerson would earn the alumni jacket from a far larger and better represented school than Temple, given his stalwart play. But Mo does get congratulatory phone calls from Bill Cosby, at least.


2012 -- Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh
2013 -- Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh

Alas, Packers safety Chris Banjo hasn't done much as a pro, or the alumni jacket would be his every year on name value alone.

Cal has a surprisingly deep list of NFL alumni, including Marshawn Lynch, having a great season for the playoff-bound Seahawks. (Getty Images)



2012 -- Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
2013 -- Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia

Eleven TDs in eleven games was good enough for Gronk to snag last year's alumni jacket, but not even he gets to wear one after only seven games of duty. That opens the closet door for Foles, who has been superb in his debutante season running the show in Philly.

Arizona State

2012 -- Vontaze Burfict, LB, Cincinnati
2013 -- Terrell Suggs, LB, Baltimore

Anyone who saw Vontaze's wild man act in his final year in the desert would have figured him for a straight alumni jacket, not an alumni alumni jacket. But Burfict screwed his head on right thanks to Marvin Lewis, and he responded with a tremendous rookie season. He has been an even more destructive sideline to sideline force this year, but T-Sizzle has raised his game as well, finally recovered from the Achilles injury that sapped most of his 2012. It's a very close call -- mainly, I don't want to be accused of Bengals bias.


2012 -- Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay
2013 -- Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle

Rodgers' fractured collarbone made it difficult for him to physically remove his alumni jacket, but Lynch got it from him eventually. Cal is a good example of a program that isn't thought of as a football factory but has placed plenty of studs in the NFL; fewer than a Florida State or Ohio State, perhaps, but with more players of impact. Lynch edges out candidates from many positions -- DeSean Jackson, Shane Vereen, Tony Gonzalez, Cameron Jordan, Marvin Jones, Keenan Allen, Brian de la Puente, etc., etc.


2012 -- Nate Solder, LT, New England
2013 -- Mason Crosby, K, Green Bay

Crosby's 2012 was so execrable that merely by returning to competency the award committee was moved to grant him the alumni jacket, helped by Solder's late-season injury.


2012 -- Jarius Byrd, S, Buffalo
2013 -- Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore

Kiko Alonso has fallen off some, or the Bills would have back-to-back alumni jackets.

Oregon State

2012 -- Brandon Browner, CB, Seattle
2013 -- Keenan Lewis, CB, New Orleans

One suspension can be overlooked, but no two-time loser gets to wear the alumni jacket, so it goes to Lewis, who went home to the Big Easy in the offseason and hasn't disappointed.


2012 -- Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
2013 -- Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle

An epic showdown over the past two seasons. Luck's herculean effort with an awful team and a stricken coach last year got him the nod, but Sherman has taken it from him with exceptional play this year. After slipping on the alumni jacket, Sherman asked Luck, "you mad, bro"?


2012 -- Akeem Ayers, LB, Tennessee
2013 -- Datone Jones, DE, Green Bay

A surpassingly weak alumni crop will soon be reinforced with difference makers like Brett Hundley and Anthony Barr. In the meantime, Ayers has fallen drastically from his solid sophomore campaign, and Rahim Moore is hurt, leaving the beautiful, classy blue and gold alumni jacket with rookie Jones, who has played well the last month after a period adjusting to the speed of the pro game.


2012 -- Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay
2013 -- Ryan Kalil, C, Carolina

A whopping 45 Trojans are earning an NFL paycheck this season, from promising newcomers like Buffalo wideout Robert Woods to old hands like Troy Polamalu, and plenty of former big men on campus, like Reggie Bush, Carson Palmer, and Matt Leinart. So who would have thought it would be the relatively obscure Kalil brothers who would tangle for the coveted alumni jacket? Ryan has the edge over younger Matt mostly based on the Panthers' strong season. Jordan Cameron of Cleveland made a run early but has fallen off.


2012 -- Paul Kruger, DE/LB, Baltimore
2013 -- Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City

When Smith was benched a year ago in San Francisco, few imagined he would be wearing this year's alumni jacket. But the committee loves a good redemption tale. Carolina's venerable Steve Smith and rookie monster defensive tackle Star Lotulelei were strong challengers.


2012 -- Dashon Goldson, S, Tampa Bay
2013 -- Mason Foster, LB, Tampa Bay

Goldson took big money to come to the Gulf of Mexico, but it is new teammate Foster who snags the alumni jacket, which in You-Dub's case comes with a hood for those rainy Seattle afternoons.

Washington State

2012 -- Brandon Gibson, WR, St. Louis
2013 -- Rian Lindell, K, Tampa Bay

Like his former Apple Cup rival Goldson, Gibson was a free agent catch who hasn't been as good in 2013. Lindell hasn't exactly been Justin Tucker, but he's been solid enough to grab the alumni jacket.

Luke Kuechly isn't only the pride of Boston College, he might be the best defensive player in football in 2013. (Getty Images)


Boston College

2012 -- Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta
2013 -- Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina

These two could be swapping the Eagles alumni jacket back and forth for a while. Ryan nosed out the sensational Panthers rookie last year, but the Falcons' 2013 disaster coupled with Kuechly's MVP-caliber performance make this an easy selection. Still, don't count Matty Ice out in 2014.


2012 -- C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo
2013 -- Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona

Spiller was the easy winner last season, but he's a running back, so expecting a repeat was senseless. Ellington, his replacement in Death Valley, is averaging seven yards every time he touches the ball (not nearly often enough, by the way).  


2012 -- Vincent Rey, LB, Cincinnati
2013 -- Vincent Rey, LB, Cincinnati

Duke made its first ACC Championship game appearance earlier this month, and the lack of talent in Durham until now is reflected by the difficulty in giving away the Blue Devils' alumni jacket. Rey actually has a stronger case for the title this season, thanks to good play (including a three-sack game against Baltimore) filling in for Rey Maualuga. Last year he won by default.  

Florida State

2012 -- Antonio Cromartie, CB, New York Jets
2013 -- Darnell Dockett, DT, Arizona

Florida State has dozens of alumni in the NFL -- three dozen, to be exact -- but you'd be hard-pressed to find a real superstar among them. Cromartie stepped in for the injured Darrelle Revis a year ago and played sensationally, but his 2013, true to his mercurial career, has been a downer. Dockett may be better known for his Twitter candor, but his strong play in the trenches has been a key to the excellent defense Arizona has played this season.

Georgia Tech

2012 -- Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit
2013 -- Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit

Back-to-back no-brainers.


2012 -- Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore
2013 -- D'Qwell Jackson, LB, Cleveland

Jackson was on the cusp of winning last season, but Smith's big play consistency on a championship team nosed D-Q out. Not this year, as Jackson has actually raised his level of play, albeit once again on a losing team.


2012 -- Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis
2013 -- Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans

For years, The U's alumni jacket stayed in Baltimore, as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed swapped it between themselves, often sharing it during ribald nights out on the Inner Harbor. But their era has passed. Wayne's was thought to have as well, but he re-emerged a year ago with a sensational season. His injury this year has revealed his continued worth. Meanwhile, Graham struggled with wrist problems in 2012, but in a contract year he has exploded. Before he cashes in, Graham gets an alumni jacket.

North Carolina

2012 -- Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago
2013 -- Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis

Quinn is often compared to his fellow Tar Heel sack machine, and this year he is fulfilling that destiny, with 15 sacks in 14 games. Cincy rookie scatback Gio Bernard lingers at the margins, but the alumni jacket will remain an extra large for another year at least.

North Carolina State

2012 -- Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo
2013 -- Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego

Williams hasn't fallen off -- he's actually increased his sack total, if not his overall impact. But Rivers' comeback season should win him some hardware from the league in January. More important is the alumni jacket he wins right now.


2012 -- LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia
2013 -- LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia

The alumni jacket resided on Revis Island for a couple of seasons, but it has been rescued by a passing steamer and brought to Philly, where McCoy has been the league's most dangerous open field weapon for a while now. Larry Fitzgerald's lack of a quarterback to get him the ball last year prevented him from overtaking McCoy when he missed a month of action. This year, he falls just short again.


2012 -- Chandler Jones, DE, New England
2013 -- TIE -- Chandler Jones, DE, New England & Arthur Jones, DT, Baltimore

Time was this was an annual battle for the orange alumni jacket between stalwarts such as Donovan McNabb, Marvin Harrison, and Dwight Freeney. L'Orange have fallen off considerably since those halcyon days (I say sadly, as an alum). At least there are the Jones Boys. Chandler has been a top pass rusher since coming into the league last season. This year, his older brother, an inside force for the Ravens, has raised his play immensely. Third brother Jon "Bones" Jones, the UFC great, wears the alumni jacket whenever he pleases.


2012 -- Chris Long, DE, St. Louis
2013 -- Chris Long, DE, St. Louis

Three different offensive tackles -- D'Brickashaw Ferguson of the Jets, Brandon Albert of Kansas City, and Eugene Monroe of Jacksonville -- had an argument to take the alumni jacket last season, but Long's big year held them off. Score another for the defense, for though Howie's son has fallen off some, so have the offensive players.  

Virginia Tech

2012 -- Brandon Flowers, CB, Kansas City
2013 -- Jason Worrilds, LB, Pittsburgh

Worrilds has at last mastered Dick LeBeau's complex defensive system and become a force off the edge. He narrowly nips Flowers and Seattle safety Kam Chancellor for the alumni jacket, with the feeling that the Battering Kam is helped mightily by his mates in the Seahawks secondary.

Wake Forest

2012 -- Tyson Clabo, RT, Atlanta
2013 -- Calvin Pace, LB, New York Jets

Wake's lowly status in college ball is reflected by its NFL alumni. Pace was cut by the Jets after a sorry 2012. But by concentrating on his pass rush (he has nine sacks) Pace has regained a spot in the league, and grabbed the coveted alumni jacket -- a smoking alumni jacket, given its Tobacco Road background.



2012 -- Golden Tate, WR, Seattle
2013 -- Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona

Tate got the nod a year ago mainly for grabbing the "Fail Mary" pass that ended the referee lockout. But Floyd is showing he is the better Golden Domer wideout this season.

Tambi Hali is yet another in a long line of defenders helping "Linebacker U" live up to its reputation. (Getty Images)



2012 -- Vontae Davis, CB, Indianapolis
2013 -- Whitney Mercilus, LB, Houston

Davis was hit by injury in 2012 but recovered to become a part of Indy's surprise rise from the gutter. Even though Houston has plummeted to that particular hellhole in 2013, it's not the fault of Mercilus. Let's face it -- he wins the alumni jacket on name alone.


2012 -- Rodger Saffold, LT, St. Louis
2013 -- Tracy Porter, CB, Oakland

It's a basketball school, that much is clear. Saffold at least played regularly in 2012, unlike any other Hoosier alum. Porter has stayed healthy this season and been decent, which is enough to earn him the IU alumni jacket.


2012 -- Marshall Yanda, G, Baltimore
2013 -- Adrian Clayborn, DE, Tampa Bay

Yanda is perhaps best known for allowing himself to be tasered in the Ravens locker room, and shrugging it off. That alone is worth an alumni jacket. But Yanda has been surpassed this season by Clayborn, who nevertheless is unlikely to wear his prize out in public for fear of running into an irate Yanda.


2012 -- Tom Brady, QB, New England
2013 -- Tom Brady, QB, New England

Brady has held the alumni jacket pretty much since taking over at the helm in Foxboro, except for the 2008-9 stretch, when he was injured and Charles Woodson won an MVP. The ladies man is given to wearing his alumni jacket around the house to impress Gisele, who reportedly is interested in sporting one on a runway in Paris this spring.

Michigan State

2012 -- Domata Peko, DT, Cincinnati
2013 -- Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh

Bell seized the alumni jacket right off Peko's back by powering for over 100 yards against the Bengals. But watch out, Le'Veon -- Kirk Cousins lurks, waiting for Bell to benched as part of an organizational power play.


2012 -- Eric Decker, WR, Denver
2013 -- Eric Decker, WR, Denver

Decker's sturdy play redeems a short and not notable group of Gophers in the pros.


2012 -- Ndamakong Suh, DT, Detroit
2013 -- Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay

In a Suh-prise, the Huskers alumni jacket has left the Motor City for Tampa, where David has shrugged off a terrible penalty that handed the Jets the opening game of the season to turn in a marvelous campaign.


2012 -- Barry Cofield, NT, Washington
2013 -- Zach Strief, OT, New Orleans

Cofield was a tremendous bowling ball-like force inside in 2012, but the defense in the nation's capital has been horrendous this year. So give the alumni jacket to Strief, a veteran who has been solid in pass protection for the high powered Saints attack.

Ohio State

2012 -- Alex Boone, G, San Francisco
2013 -- James Laurinaitis, LB, St. Louis

Another collegiate powerhouse with plenty of alumni in the NFL but few stars, the Buckeyes' best pros are many faceless outside of their cities. Give the linebacker the alumni jacket this season, edging out Miami's Brian Hartline, having another productive season in relative anonymity, and San Francisco safety Donte (don't call me "Hitner") Whitner, having a good contract year by the Bay.

Penn State

2012 -- Cameron Wake, DE/LB, Miami
2013 -- Tamba Hali, DE/LB, Kansas City

Linebacker U continues to put superb defenders into the pros. If Sean Lee could ever stay healthy, he'd have a crack at the alumni jacket (and don't forget Navarro Bowman, perhaps punished unfairly for playing inside and next to the great Patrick Willis). But for now, give it to the relentless Hali, who has been the best of a good defensive group in K.C. this season.


2012 -- Bernard Pollard, S, Baltimore
2013 -- Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans

Brees has a closet full of alumni jackets, but last year, sans sensei Sean Payton, was a down one for the diminutive Boiler, so recidivist Patriots-killer Pollard intimidated the voters into sending one his way for once. But this year's edition is back where it belongs.


2012 -- J.J. Watt, DE, Houston
2013 -- Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle

Watt's season for the ages was the runaway winner last year, but remarkably, Wilson has taken the alumni jacket from the pass-swatting Watt, had it sized down considerably, and now wears it proudly. This could go back and forth between these two excellent Badgers alumni for years to come.

It's been such a bad year for Robert Griffin III that not only has he been shut down in Washington, he's not even Baylor's best alum. (Getty Images)

BIG 12


2012 -- Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington
2013 -- Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland

This time last year it appeared RG3 had the alumni jacket salted away for at least a decade. Just twelve months later, he's not even close to a receiver who plays for Cleveland. Just an astonishing turn of events. Now the question is whether Griffin will ever wear the green-and-gold blazer again.

Iowa State

2012 -- Kelechi Osemele, G, Baltimore
2013 -- Ahtyba Rubin, DT, Cleveland

Osemele's transition from tackle to guard helped key the Ravens Super Bowl run a year ago, but he is on injured reserve, opening the door for Rubin, who hasn't lived up to his early promise but at least is out there for the Browns. This is Iowa State, not LSU, after all.


2012 -- Aqib Talib, CB, New England
2013 -- Aqib Talib, CB, New England

After rehabbing his image under Bill Belichick, Talib has solidified his Jayhawk alumni jacket with an excellent season. But if Aqib can't stay healthy, or on the straight and narrow, Bengals tackle Anthony Collins is hanging around.

Kansas State

2012 -- Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans
2013 -- Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay

Nelson was the 2011 winner, and the alumni jacket returns to him after an injury-plagued 2012.  


2012 -- Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
2013 -- Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay

An automatic a year ago, All Day downshifted a bit this year, figuring he still would keep his crimson-and-cream alumni jacket without a sweat. After all, Kenny Stills hit the rookie wall, Jermaine Gresham is inconsistent, and DeMarco Murray can't stay healthy. But he forgot to factor in McCoy, who has become the dominant interior lineman the Bucs took at the top of the 2010 draft. He has been overpowering double teams, affecting the quarterback, and stuffing the run all season, even amid the early season chaos in Tampa. Peterson will no doubt train extra hard in the offseason to regain the title.

Oklahoma State

2012 -- Russell Okung, LT, Seattle
2013 -- Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas

Take a deep breath, because Bryant has been a lightning rod this season, with maturity issues that manifested themselves when he hid his tears by checking out from the Packers game early. But the facts are that Okung missed a sizable chunk of the season, Kevin Williams is on the downslope, and Dan Bailey is still a kicker. And let's not even bring up Brandon Weeden, who will be delivering the alumni jacket to annual winners starting next season, when he is out of football. So Dez it is. Now grow up, please.


2012 -- Earl Thomas, S, Seattle
2013 -- Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City

An argument can be made for Justin Tucker. But Jamaal Charles' brilliance can't be denied, especially when he turned the screen pass into the game's most dangerous weapon against Oakland. Charles isn't much bigger than Tucker, so if the kicker continues his incredible footwork, the alumni jacket won't need alterations next season.

Texas Christian

2012 -- Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati
2013 -- Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati

He has his ups and downs, but the Red Rifle is as consistent as Manning or Brady when it comes to the TCU alumni jacket.

Texas Tech

2012 -- Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco
2013 -- Wes Welker, WR, Denver

Appropriately, the Tech title alumni jacket is held by wide receivers on a year in, year out basis. Last season, Crabtree took the prize with an amazing stretch of play once Colin Kaepernick took over as quarterback. But his injury returns the top spot to Welker, whose concussions may make this his final alumni jacket.

West Virginia

2012 -- Bruce Irvin, DE, Seattle
2013 -- Adam Jones, CB, Cincinnati

While we await Tavon Austin's explosion, and nod at the expected Geno Smith implosion, the Mountaineers are represented by defensive players. Irvin led all rookies with eight sacks as a blindingly fast situational pass rusher a year ago. He has moved to linebacker this season, and continues to play well. But the alumni jacket goes to the Artist formerly known as Pacman. Jones has been the steady cover corner in a Bengals secondary decimated by injury. And the Alumni committee likes a good redemption story, so long as Jones doesn't make it rain at the presentation ceremony.

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Robert Weintraub is the author of the books The Victory Season and The House That Ruth Built. He writes regularly for the New York Times,, Football Outsiders, CJR, Slate and many others. Follow him on Twitter @robwein.