Why he's on the list: I kind of hate having Peterson this low on the list, because he easily could have been No. 1 if injuries hadn't derailed his college career. Still, though you have to wonder what could have been, what was ... was amazing. He was robbed of the 2004 Heisman, and if he'd put together that kind of freshman season in a post-Manziel world, there's no way he wouldn't have brought home another Heisman to Oklahoma, even with Jason White stealing a few votes from Peterson, who lost out to Matt Leinart. Still, cracking 100 yards in his first nine games ever and finishing a freshman season with 1,925 yards is one of the best seasons ever. In the NFL he finally had a chance to showcase the potential he showed in college. An ankle injury limited him in 2005 and a broken collarbone in 2006 left him just 73 yards short of breaking Billy Sims' career rushing record at Oklahoma.
Peterson ran with anger back then and you still see it in the NFL now. He was drafted seventh overall in 2007, but Peterson is a rare back that runs like he's planning to score a touchdown every time he touches the ball. He's got the speed to break huge runs, but loved lowering his shoulder and leveling defenders. He was a can't-miss recruit from Palestine, Texas who Oklahoma grabbed from their rival Longhorns in a hyped recruiting battle, and he proved to be every bit the player the Sooners hoped. He was a unanimous All-American in 2004 but lost out on the Doak Walker Award to Cedric Benson.
The fact he never won one of the major national awards is a minor footnote on a career for a player who has a case for the best running back to ever play the game.