Urban Meyer's one of the best college football coaches ever. It's not hyperbole. With a 165-29 career record -- which equates to a mind-bending .851 winning percentage -- Meyer has averaged 11 wins per year over his 15 seasons at Bowling Green (2001-02), Utah (2003-04), Florida (2005-2010) and Ohio State (2012-present). Oh, and he's claimed three national titles along the way.
Of course, no coach dominates like that without a wealth of talent at his disposal. In the past two NFL drafts alone, Meyer has produced 19 selections, including eight first-rounders. And this is nothing new -- the 53-year-old has been churning out NFL players for years.
Below you'll find our All-Urban Meyer Team, comprised of guys who spent time with Meyer at the college level (exact years under the coach denoted parenthetically). Since this is NFL.com, players are judged on their production in the pros, not college. (Sorry, Tim Tebow.)
Quarterback: Cam Newton (Florida, 2007-08)
We didn't see much of Newton The Gator, as the ballyhooed recruit spent two seasons backing up Tim Tebow before washing out of Gainesville following an arrest for possession of a stolen laptop (charges were later dropped) and reported academic improprieties. But it's not hard to imagine Newton putting up prolific numbers in Meyer's attack. The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder is one of the most unique talents ever to play quarterback in the NFL. Newton combines a cannon arm with spectacular athleticism and a bruising running style. While his flamboyant demeanor has made him a polarizing star, Newton's trophy chest features the 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year and 2015 Most Valuable Player. Last year was the statistical low point of Newton's pro career, but the Panthers spent this offseason enhancing his surrounding cast. Will 2017 mark the return of SuperCam?
Running back: Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State, 2013-15)
After posting back-to-back 1,800-yard seasons at Ohio State, Elliott turned pro and ... led the NFL in rushing by more than 300 yards. There are few things that this transcendent talent can't do on the field -- with an all-around game that checks every single box, including pass blocking -- but he's run into some issues off it. Elliott was the linchpin of last season's 13-3 Cowboys renaissance, as a boon to Dallas' offense and a safeguard against the flawed defense. No wonder Adam Schein gave Zeke a lofty slot on his annual list of indispensable offensive players.
Running back: Carlos Hyde (Ohio State, 2012-13)
Hyde racked up 35 TDs in his two seasons with Meyer before joining the 49ers of Jim Harbaugh (who, ironically, now coaches the Buckeyes' archrival in Ann Arbor). The bruising back has flashed enticing potential in each of the past two seasons -- including last year's 988-yard effort that earned him a slot as a Pro Bowl alternate -- but injuries have kept him from truly breaking out. Heading into a contract year -- under a new regime that brought in a bunch of competition in the backfield -- Hyde recently told reporters, "I'm in the best shape of my life right now." Starting to feel like all that offseason chatter about Hyde falling out of favor in San Francisco was a simple (and effective) motivational ploy.
Wide receiver: Michael Thomas (Ohio State, 2012-15)
Thomas didn't set the world ablaze at Ohio State -- eclipsing 100 yards receiving in just two college games -- but NFL scouts figured the 6-foot-3, 212-pounder was underutilized in a Buckeyes offense that had difficulty getting vertical. Keyshawn Johnson's nephew emphatically confirmed that assumption in Year 1, setting Saints rookie records in catches (92), receiving yards (1,137) and receiving touchdowns (9). New Orleans is so confident in Thomas' WR1 ability that the franchise traded former first-round pick Brandin Cooks to New England.
Wide receiver: Percy Harvin (Florida, 2006-08)
Harvin excelled in the H-back role of Meyer's spread offense, splitting his production between rushing (1,852 yards, 19 touchdowns) and receiving (1,929 yards, 13 TDs) over his three-year stay in Gainesville. He continued to wear multiple hats in the NFL (more on his return skills below), but spent the majority of his time as a slot receiver. After winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors with Minnesota in 2009, Harvin's durability quickly became a problem. When right, he was one of the most explosive weapons in the NFL -- SEE: The first half of the 2012 campaign, when he was a bona fide MVP candidate for the Vikings -- but his tightly packed 184-pound body just seemed to fail him as the years went on. In March, Harvin's agent affirmed that his client is done playing football.
Tight end: Jordan Reed (Florida, 2009-2010)
Like Harvin, Reed's a playmaker with rare athleticism for his position. Also like Harvin, Reed has struggled to stay on the field, having yet to log a full 16-game slate four seasons into his NFL career. And now he's dealing with a nagging toe injury that has him on the PUP list with no current timetable for return. Still, when active, Reed's a mismatch nightmare. He actually showed up at Florida as a four-star dual-threat quarterback, but he shifted to tight end in Meyer's last year with the Gators. Wise move. In 2015, he made the Pro Bowl with 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Offensive tackle: Marcus Gilbert (Florida, 2006-2010)
Gilbert showed off his versatility under Meyer at Florida, starting on both sides of the line (at guard and tackle). Since entering the NFL as a second-round pick in 2011, Gilbert has been a stalwart at right tackle for the Steelers. Although he's yet to receive Pro Bowl honors, Gilbert is seen as one of the most consistent RTs in football. According to Pro Football Focus, he was one of the very best pass-blocking tackles in 2016.
Offensive tackle: Taylor Decker (Ohio State, 2012-15)
A three-year starter under Meyer in Columbus, Decker was a crucial piece on the Buckeyes' 2014 national title squad -- a mauling run blocker who helped clear the way for Ezekiel Elliott, and the blind-side protector of a quarterback torch that passed from Braxton Miller in fall camp to J.T. Barrett in the regular season to Cardale Jones in the postseason. Taken by the Lions in the first round of the 2016 draft, Decker capably manned left tackle for every single offensive snap in Year 1. Unfortunately, he tore his labrum earlier this year during offseason training activities and is expected to miss at least a chunk of the season.
Offensive guard: Mike Pouncey (Florida, 2007-2010)
Mike might be the older Pouncey twin -- by a minute -- but he's ceding the center spot on this team to Maurkice, as was the case on Meyer's Gators. Mike has spent the bulk of his NFL career as a stout center for the Dolphins, though he did play right guard for the entire 2014 season, notching the second of his three Pro Bowl bids. Now he's coming off an injury-abbreviated 2016 campaign and offseason hip surgery. Can he re-establish himself as one of the best pivots in football?
Offensive guard: Andrew Norwell (Ohio State, 2012-13)
Despite earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in his two years with Meyer, Norwell went undrafted in 2014. Still, he made a profound impact on Carolina in Year 1, taking over a starting guard job midway through the season and helping to stabilize a previously shaky offensive line. Over the past two seasons, he's further established himself as one of the best young players nobody's heard of. (Such is life for an interior O-lineman.) Entering a contract season, Norwell is due to finally get some love -- at least in the contractual sense.
Center: Maurkice Pouncey (Florida, 2007-09)
A starter in each of his three seasons at Florida, Pouncey helped the Gators win a national title in 2008 and received the Rimington Trophy (as the nation's top center) in 2009. The Steelers selected him 18th overall in 2010 and Pouncey became the first center in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons. While a major knee injury limited him to one game in 2013 and a broken fibula robbed him of the entire 2015 campaign, Pouncey was first-team All-Pro in 2014 and a Pro Bowler this past season. Basically, he's among the game's best interior O-linemen whenever he takes the field.
Defensive end: Joey Bosa (Ohio State, 2013-15)
Meyer put together an extraordinary recruiting class in 2013 -- one that provided the core of the Buckeyes' 2014 national title squad and eventually produced five first-round picks. Bosa, who went third overall to the Chargers in 2016, was the draft-day pick of the litter, coming off the board one spot above Ezekiel Elliott. While a contract holdout and hamstring injury delayed his NFL debut until Week 5 of last season, Bosa immediately proved worth the wait. The versatile defensive lineman logged a pair of sacks in his first NFL game and went on to finish with 10.5 in just 12 games, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Defensive end: Carlos Dunlap (Florida, 2007-09)
While Tim Tebow earned Offensive MVP honors in the Gators' 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Game win over Oklahoma, Dunlap took home the defensive hardware. A second-round pick of the Bengals in 2010, Dunlap posted 9.5 sacks as a rookie, but his next couple seasons were marred by injuries. Over the past four years, though, Dunlap hasn't missed a game, with the explosive big man racking up 37 sacks. He's received Pro Bowl invitations in each of the past two seasons and quietly established himself as one of the most consistent edge rushers in the game today.
Defensive tackle: Johnathan Hankins (Ohio State, 2012)
Hankins' last year in Columbus was Meyer's first, and the 6-foot-3, 320-pounder appropriately dubbed "Big Hank" delivered a first-team All-Big Ten campaign. Drafted in the second round as a run stuffer by the Giants, Hankins became a full-time starter in Year 2 and surprisingly contributed seven sacks. After an injury-abbreviated 2015, Hankins turned in another impactful season last fall, helping the Giants to field the NFL's third-best run defense. Hankins cashed in this past April, signing a three-year, $30 million deal as part of Chris Ballard's extreme defensive makeover in Indianapolis.
Defensive tackle: Paul Soliai (Utah, 2004)
OK, so Soliai never actually played a down for Meyer. Recruited as a raw-but-enticing juco transfer, Soliai redshirted the 2004 season, Meyer's last with the Utes. But Soliai was Meyer's first big-time recruiting score. And seeing as how the coach has developed into one of the most prolific recruiters in college football history, that's something to note. For his part, Soliai has gone on to have a very productive NFL career, making over $44 million in the past decade and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2011.
Linebacker: Ryan Shazier (Ohio State, 2012-13)
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert loves drafting Urban Meyer's players. And he satisfied this infatuation early in the 2014 draft, scooping up this athletic freak with the 15th overall pick. Shazier developed into an all-around terror during his Ohio State career, as evidenced by his spectacular junior season of stat-stuffing: 134 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and four forced fumbles. Although injuries have impacted his first three pro seasons, Shazier just hit his first Pro Bowl. He's the prototypical modern linebacker, flying around the field at lightning speed while making plays against the run and pass. Like Gregg Rosenthal recently wrote, "It is breathtaking when Shazier takes over a game."
Linebacker: John Simon (Ohio State, 2012)
Thought about giving this slot to Brandon Spikes, but the truth is, his college career far outshines his NFL tenure. And, as noted in the intro, this team is inspired by production on Sundays, not Saturdays. Meanwhile, Simon -- who was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in his lone season under Meyer -- appears to be a player on the ascent, having just signed a nice three-year, $13.5 million deal with the Colts. Simon quietly provided efficient play for the Texans over the past two season despite starting just 12 games due to injury and the depth of the Texans' front seven. This is a bet that, at age 26, Simon's best NFL football is in front of him.
Cornerback: Janoris Jenkins (Florida, 2008-2010)
A three-year starter under Meyer, Jenkins was kicked off the team in Will Muschamp's debut season. After spending his first four NFL campaigns as a starter for the Rams, Jenkins signed a $62.5 million deal with the Giants -- and he sure delivered the goods in Year 1. In addition to making his first Pro Bowl, Jenkins impressed his peers, ranking 54th in NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2017." He also earned the respect of the analytics mavens over at Pro Football Focus, who went from calling him one of the worst signings of last offseason to crediting him for propelling the Giants' secondary to the top of the league.
Cornerback: Joe Haden (Florida, 2007-09)
Haden started from Day 1 on Meyer's Gators and earned numerous accolades during his three years in Gainesville. In Florida's 2009 BCS title game win over Oklahoma, Haden notched 10 tackles and two pass breakups. His NFL career -- which began when he was taken seventh overall by the Browns in 2010 -- has been a bit of a roller coaster, but Haden has made two Pro Bowls and earned a whole bunch of money along the way. Reports abound of Haden's clean bill of health entering the 2017 season, so we'll see if he can return to all-star form this fall.
Nickelback: Bradley Roby (Ohio State, 2012-13)
Yup, I'm wedging a third cornerback into this All-Urban defense. Hey, it's 2017 and NFL teams are tossing the ball all over the yard -- nickel defense is a must. Not to mention, Roby is one of the NFL's best nickelbacks. Since arriving in Denver as the Broncos' first-round pick in 2014, Roby has been overshadowed by the two perennial Pro Bowl corners on the roster (Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr.). But Roby has displayed the same versatility that made him a shutdown menace at Ohio State. Last year wasn't his best NFL campaign, but John Elway didn't hesitate to exercise the fifth-year option in his contract. With Talib being 31 years old, Roby's poised to eventually snag a starting spot.
Safety: Eric Weddle (Utah, 2003-04)
Weddle was a key cog on Meyer's 12-0 Utes of 2004, and he actually did a bit of everything during his time in Salt Lake City -- scoring six offensive touchdowns as a runner, throwing for an additional score, returning punts and even serving as the team's holder. During his first nine NFL seasons with the Chargers, Weddle was a consistent difference maker, making three Pro Bowls and earning a pair of first-team All-Pro nods. Still, this marriage came to an acrimonious end in Weddle's injury-plagued 2015 season, and the Bolts let the safety walk last offseason. He signed with the Ravens and immediately churned out another stellar campaign, making the Pro Bowl and rating as PFF's No. 1 safety and No. 10 overall player.
Safety: Reggie Nelson (Florida, 2005-06)
Urban didn't hold back on praise for his safety in January of 2007: "Reggie Nelson is not a good football player; he is one of the best football players I have ever been around, not just a defensive back." Nelson was one of the biggest stars of Meyer's first national championship run -- a season that culminated with Florida's blowout upset of ... yup, Ohio State. (Who would win in a recruiting fight: Gator Urban or Buckeye Urban? Talk about Signing Day drama ...) The Jaguars selected Nelson with the 21st overall pick of the 2007 draft, but it took a while for Nelson to flourish at the NFL level. Now, though, the 33-year-old is fresh off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons (one with the Bengals and one with this current team, the Raiders).
Kicker: Shaun Suisham (Bowling Green, 2001-2002)
Considered going with Caleb Sturgis -- who kicked for Meyer at Florida and just enjoyed his best professional season with the Eagles -- but eventually settled on Suisham. He bounced around the NFL for a half-decade before settling in with the Steelers midway through the 2010 season. Suisham provided quality kicking for Pittsburgh through the 2014 season, but then he tore his ACL in the 2015 Hall of Fame Game and was never able to fully recover. He officially retired last summer as the most accurate kicker in Steelers history.
Punter: Chas Henry, (Florida, 2007-2010)
Slim pickings at punter ... Henry won the Ray Guy Award in Meyer's final year with the Gators. He then spent 19 games as the Eagles' punter in 2011 and '12 before falling out of the NFL. It's high time for Mr. Meyer to develop an NFL-grade punter in Columbus. Tom Tupa isn't walking through that door.
Returner: Percy Harvin (Florida, 2006-08)
Yes, I'm doubling down on Harvin, giving him return duties in addition to a starting receiver role. Risky proposition, no doubt, given the man's injury history. But how can I pass up on the guy with the ninth-highest kick-return average (27.2 yards) in NFL history? Harvin took at least one kick to the house in his first five NFL seasons. His 87-yard return score to start the second half of Super Bowl XLVIII was the knockout blow on the Broncos.