EA Sports College Football 25: Top 5 Players We Missed Out On, Including Lamar Jackson & Saquon Barkley

EA Sports College Football 25: Top 5 Players We Missed Out On, Including Lamar Jackson & Saquon Barkley article feature image

Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Former Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The clock is ticking, and we’re drawing closer to the highly anticipated return of the EA Sports College Football video game series. We thought it would be fun to revisit the beloved series with a college football content collection.

Over the next month, we’ll be detailing how much has changed in the sports since the last game dropped in the summer of 2013, the stars that gamers missed out on playing with and more.

Last week, we ripped the band-aid off and revisited some of the worst bad beats of the past 11 years. Maybe you were on the right side of those, or maybe you don’t want to talk about it. We understand.

If that was the shot, this week’s feel-good list is the chaser.

When the game was shelved due to legal concerns, gamers coast to coast were deprived of playing with some of the sport’s most iconic players. These game-breakers would have been de facto cheat codes had they been rated properly by the EA team.

So, who made the list? Let’s find out.



Lamar Jackson

Louisville QB · 2015-17

In the video game pantheon of dual-threat quarterbacks, there’s Michael Vick in Madden 2004 — and then there’s everyone else.

Vick was so “overpowered” that he was universally banned from online play. If someone chose Atlanta, it was an auto-quit. He was the fastest player on the field with a rocket arm, and he seemingly never got tired.

Lamar Jackson could have been this player in the NCAA Football series.

Consider this: Jackson entered his first year as a full-time starter in 2016 with a decent amount of hype and drew lowly Charlotte in the opener. He accounted for 405 total yards and eight touchdowns against the 49ers… in the first half.

Much like Vick, he was the best athlete on the field, capable of taking it to the house any time he touched the ball. And he touched the ball on every play. He hurdled over defenders with ease, left others in the dust, and when he did choose to throw he liked to push the ball downfield.

Despite NCAA 14, the last game in the series, generally being hailed as a phenomenal football experience, some point out that the option — and specifically, the read option — was overpowered.

If you watched Jackson during his Heisman season in 2016, you could make an argument that no amount of overpowering in the run game could do him justice. It was as though he was running against school children who had never seen a juke move in their lives.

His rushing highlights alone are matched only by Barry Sanders in terms of the sheer number of defenders turned around in the wrong direction. It was a no-brainer to make him No. 1 on this list.

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Christian McCaffrey

Stanford RB/KR/PR · 2014-16

When it comes to utilizing your best skill-position player in a football video game, generally you have to choose. A receiver can get 15-20 targets if you want to force him the ball. Or you can feed it to your bell-cow back 35 times and hope he doesn’t break down.

But what if you chose an offensive weapon that was his team’s best runner, best receiver and a devastating return specialist? That’s what we all missed out on by being deprived of the collegiate Christian McCaffrey experience on PlayStation and Xbox.

During his breakout sophomore campaign in 2015, McCaffrey accounted for 2,664 yards from scrimmage and tacked on 1,200 more in the return game. If that feels like an absurdly high number to you, you are correct.

He set the NCAA single-season all-purpose yardage record (including his bowl stats) and averaged 276 yards between the running, receiving and return games. Only Barry Sanders (295.5 yards) in 1988 had a higher per-game average.

Anyone who had the privilege of playing with Reggie Bush in NCAA 06, can tell you that taking over a game with a Swiss Army Knife is an unmatched video game experience.

That’s exactly what CMC brought to the table, and he could have made playing with Stanford fun — a sentence that has never really rung true in the video game era.



Saquon Barkley

Penn State RB/KR · 2015-17

In the 1960s, the old student body left or student body right play call was a staple of college football offenses. You wanted to get the ball to the best player on the edge, into open space and let him cook.

With Joe Moorhead calling the shots at Penn State, the Nittany Lions offense had a similar directive: Get the ball to Saquon early and often.

That meant handoffs, screen passes, wildcat snaps, and on occasion, special teams returns.

In his last two seasons in Happy Valley, Barkley was fed the ball 571 times from scrimmage. And he took 13% of his kick returns to the house.

The man was a menace and an absolute ironman. He played through injuries and didn’t break down. Instead, he broke opponents down.

In his final year at Penn State, he broke a tackle on over 20% of his touches, per PFF, and was a home run waiting to happen. He had a “breakaway percentage” of 57%, which meant that more than half of his yards came on huge gains.

No one wants to control the clock and grind out first downs four yards at a time in a video game. You want to get to the second and third levels and make highlight-level plays that cause your opponent to chuck their controller.

Barkley would have been a human highlight reel in the NCAA Football series and a queen on the chess board.

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.



Kyler Murray

Oklahoma QB · 2015-18

There were a lot of worthy quarterbacks to consider from the 2014-2023 window, but Murray just screamed "video game legend."

He was like a create-a-player or a whiteboard creation from an EA producer for a Road To Glory mode. You could start your journey by choosing baseball or football. Go right to the pros and work your way up the Oakland Athletics’ farm system or stick it out at Oklahoma as you finally get a chance to the Sooners’ QB1.

If you chose football, it would have been a blast because this pint-sized passer could do it all. Scramble around until something developed downfield? Check. Bomb it 65 yards on the run? Check. Tuck it and run for huge gains? Check.

How easy was it to rack up stats with Murray? He became the second player in FBS history to make it to the 4,000/1,000 club, joining Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.

And unlike Jackson on this list, Murray had an elite receiver to throw the ball to in CeeDee Lamb. The future Cowboys superstar caught 11 touchdowns and held a 17.8 yards-per-catch clip.

Running Lincoln Riley’s system was essentially a cheat code in real life, so it would have been a blast piling up yards and points with Murray and this offense.



Jabrill Peppers

Michigan DB/LB/RB/KR/PR · 2014-16

Before college football had Travis Hunter, it had Jabrill Peppers. If you wanted to compete in all three phases of a football game, Peppers was your man.

He played at the second and third level of the defense, moving between cornerback, safety and linebacker. He had 55 touches on offense between his sophomore and junior campaigns, scoring five touchdowns mainly out of the wildcat. He also returned 56 kicks in total, taking one to the house.

And just for good measure, he even scored two points when he returned a two-point conversion attempt by Michigan State.

While he may be a bit of a “tweener” in the pros, his versatility was an undeniable asset at the college level. In 2016, he won the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year honors, was named the conference’s top linebacker and return specialist, and was selected as a unanimous All-American.

If you wanted to take over a game, you could have done a lot worse than locking onto Michigan’s No. 5.

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