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Three Former Kent State Athletes Picked Among Top 100 NFL Players

Posted Jul. 8, 2011 recently polled current players to select the top 100 players in the league, and three former Kent State University athletes made the list.

James Harrison, Antonio Gates and Josh Cribbs at Pro BowlPittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison led the group as he was ranked the 21st best player in the NFL, while San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates followed at No. 22.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs ranked 84th on the list after breaking the NFL record for career kick returns for touchdowns.

Twenty-seven percent of the top 100 never played in an AQ conference, while Kent State had more players on the list than Alabama, Florida and LSU combined and more than any Big Ten school besides Michigan.

Harrison was a standout linebacker from 1999-01 for the Golden Flashes. He was named to the 2001 All-MAC first team while leading the defense with 12 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. In 2000, he also led the team with 106 total tackles. The Akron, Ohio, native’s 15 career sacks and 42 career tackles both rank fifth in the Kent State record book. After his collegiate career, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Harrison as an undrafted free agent in 2002. Named the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, his professional accomplishments include: two-time Super Bowl Champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, four Pro Bowl selections and three All-Pro selections.

While Gates never appeared in a game for the Golden Flashes on the gridiron, the 6-foot-4 big-man was a force on the hardwood for the Kent State basketball team from to 2003.

Gates was a tenacious rebounder and offensive presence in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. He was an integral part of the team’s first Elite Eight run in school history. Following graduation, Gates was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chargers and made an immediate impact.

Gates is widely known as one of the best tight ends in the NFL and has shown consistency throughout his career, amassing seven Pro Bowl selections and three All-Pro selections.

Cribbs, a native of Washington, D.C., became just the second player in NCAA history to record two “double-1,000 yard” seasons (both passing and rushing). For his career, Cribbs ranks first in the Kent State record book for completions (616), passing attempts (1,123), passing yards (7,169), rushing touchdowns (38), total plays (1,755 — 5th in MAC history), total yards (10,839 — 7th in MAC history), points (246) and touchdowns (41). The 2004 honorable mention All-American also ranks third in school annals in rushing yards (3,670). Cribbs was signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent and has become the NFL’s most prolific kick returner. Selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2009, Cribbs broke the NFL record for career kick-off returns for touchdowns (8). Also an All-Pro selection in 2007 and 2009, Cribbs has racked up 15 career touchdowns.

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