Best Stanford football players: Modern-era Mount Rushmore – From John Elway to Andrew Luck

Christian McCaffrey, Stanford Cardinal. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford Cardinal. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
1 of 5
Best Stanford football players, Stanford Mount Rushmore
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford Cardinal. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images) /

The modern-era Stanford football Mount Rushmore, including quarterbacks John Elway and Andrew Luck who are among the best Stanford football players ever.

For an academic power on the West Coast, the Stanford Cardinal have grown into one of the more stable and successful football programs over the last 15 years. Though last year may not have good as well as they would have liked, Stanford rarely has losing seasons this era under head coaches David Shaw and Jim Harbaugh before that.

In Stanford football’s history, the Cardinal have won over 650 games, won 15 conference championships, claimed two national titles and Jim Plunkett is the lone Heisman Trophy winner. Despite the one Heisman winner from Stanford, the Cardinal have sent so many finalists to the ceremony since he won the award back in 1970, it’s ridiculous really.

They didn’t get the Heisman but some of the runners-up have made the Stanford modern-era Mount Rushmore.

It will include players who played since 1980. So Plunkett will not make this group, as he was starring for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders in the early 1980s. It also includes four players who deserve an honorable mention for their college careers.

Honorable Mentions for Stanford’s modern-era Mount Rushmore

WR. (1996-99). 5. 871. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. player. Troy Walters

Wide receiver Troy Walters played four seasons with the Cardinal in the late 1990s. As a senior in 1999, he was named a consensus All-American, won the Biletnikoff Award and was Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. He left Palo Alto with 244 catches for 3,986 yards and 26 touchdowns. Walters played eight years in the NFL and is now a coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. (2010-12). 871. TE. Zach Ertz. 86. player

Tight end Zach Ertz only played three seasons for the Cardinal but left his mark as an elite tight end during his junior year in 2012. Ertz had 69 catches for 898 yards and six touchdowns, helping him be a unanimous All-American, make the All-Pac-12 First Team and lead the Cardinal to a conference championship. He now stars at tight end in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles.

(2012-15). Joshua Garnett. G. 51. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 871

Stanford football has had several outstanding offensive linemen over the last decade-plus, but none were as accomplished as was guard Joshua Garnett. He took home the Outland Trophy, the Morris Trophy and was a consensus All-American as a senior in 2015. Garnett would be a first-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. He is now a member of the Detroit Lions.

Scouting Report. RB. (2015-18). Bryce Love. 20. player. Pick Analysis. 871

Running back Bryce Love is the first Heisman Trophy finalist to appear this list. Love finished as the runner-up to Baker Mayfield in 2017, as he rushed for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns on 263 carries. He won the Doak Walker, the Lombardi, was Pac-12 Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American. Love was a fourth-round pick by the Washington Redskins in 2019.