Butkus, Grange among ESPN's top-11 CFB players of all-time
ESPN reminded the nation that Illinois football has a storied history. The Illini were the only program to have two of the top-11 players in ESPN’s Top-150 College Football’s 150-year history — who both have statues outside Memorial Stadium.
Linebacker Dick Butkus was the highest-ranked defensive player at No. 8, and running back Red Grange — college football’s first superstar — came in at No. 6.
ESPN released the final list during halftime of the College Football Playoff championship game between LSU and Clemson.
On ESPN.com, it wrote of Grange:
On Butkus, ESPN wrote:
Illinois has retired only two numbers in its history: Butkus’ No. 50 and Grange’s No. 77. In 2009, the Illini unveiled a statue of Grange on the west side of Memorial Stadium. The Illini unveiled a Dick Butkus statue last October in front of the new $80 million Smith Football Center on the east side of Memorial Stadium. Both statues were constructed by artist George Lundeen.
“This is a very humbling experience, to tell you the truth,” Dick Butkus said in October. “I didn’t come here to play and get a statue after I was done. So it’s very humbling. …It’s a humbling deal. What the hell else do you want me to say? It’s usually something for dead people. But it’s pretty nice.”
The top 11 were revealed at halftime: