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The Saginaw-area list of 25 greatest football players of all time includes, clockwise from top left, Blair White, Jimmy Ellis, Terry McDaniel, Charles Rogers and LaMarr Woodley.

Arthur Hill High School football helmets stand ready to be passed out. (Michael Holleneck | File)

Saginaw football has more than 100 years of history, beginning in the 19th century when the East Side students took on the West Side students.

And in those 100 years, the talent that has graced the Saginaw area has ranked among the greatest football players in the country, from high school to college to the professional ranks.

But who are the Top 25 players in Saginaw-area history? Who are the players that made a name for themselves and the Saginaw area not just in high school but in college and as professional players?

Comparing different eras is almost impossible. Professional football was not a reality for many of the early stars, and if it was it wasn’t lucrative enough to make it a career choice.

But there were also fewer elite college football programs, making it easier to earn All-American honors.

Taking into account the entirety of players’ amateur and professional careers, MLive Saginaw presents its list of the Top 25 football players in Saginaw-area history.

Check out the list and let us know in the comments section what you think.

Green Bay Packers tight end Tory Humphrey, a former standout at Saginaw High and Central Michigan University, tangles with Detroit Lions safety Daniel Bullocks, right, during the Lions’ 48-25 loss to the Packers at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, September 14, 2008. (Rob Widdis | File)

25. TORY HUMPHREY, Saginaw High

Tory Humphrey was a key lineman in Saginaw High’s march to the 1999 state championship, and he signed to play college ball at Central Michigan University. After a few position changes, Humphrey settled in at tight end for the Chippewas. He wasn’t picked in the 2005 NFL Draft, but Humphrey signed with Indianapolis. After he was released, Humphrey signed with the Green Bay Packers and stayed in Green Bay from 2005 through 2008. He had his best season in 2008 with 11 catches for 162 yards, but Humphrey broke his arm during 2009 training camp and was released. The New Orleans Saints signed Humphrey for tight end depth before the playoffs, and he caught a pass in the Saints’ final regular-season game. Humphrey was inactive for the Super Bowl, but he dressed and received a Super Bowl ring when the Saints won the championship. Humphrey finished his NFL career with 13 catches for 181 yards.

Ron Stanley, former Saginaw High and Michigan State football standout, displays the Super Bowl XL ring he earned as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Jeff Schrier | File)

24. RONALD STANLEY, Saginaw High

Ronald Stanley became the first Saginaw native to win a Super Bowl ring when he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad during the 2005 and 2006 season. The 6-foot, 245-pound linebacker was part of the Steelers’ team that won Super Bowl XL at Ford Field. Stanley starred for three years at Saginaw High, graduating in 2001. He led Saginaw High with 18 tackles in its 1999 state-championship win over Birmingham Brother Rice. As a senior, Stanley made 118 tackles on defense and ran for 1,106 yards and 15 touchdowns on offense. In track, Stanley ran a 10.8 second 100-meter dash and was part of the Trojans’ state-championship 400-meter relay team. He went to Michigan State, where he became one of the team’s top linebackers for four years. After making 43 tackles and earning freshman all-American honors in his first season, he had 99 tackles as a sophomore. In his final two seasons at MSU, Stanley had 227 tackles. He was invited to the Hula Bowl for a senior all-star game, and he finished with two defensive touchdowns and Defensive MVP honors. He was not drafted but signed as an undrafted free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing one game in 2006 for the Steelers.

23. ROY MANNING, Saginaw High

After helping Saginaw High claim a state title in 1999, Roy Manning went to the University of Michigan and finished his career with 72 tackles, including nine tackles for loss. Manning was named the team’s top linebacker after his senior season, when he had 39 tackles, including six tackles for loss. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 2005, adding stops with the Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals during his three-year career. In 21 NFL games, Manning had 31 tackles. Manning has prospered as an NCAA assistant football coach, with stops at Cincinnati, Michigan, Washington State and UCLA before his current position as the cornerbacks coach at Oklahoma.

Hinton from SCSHOF on Vimeo.

22. AL HINTON, Saginaw High

Al Hinton was a dominating lineman on the field, anchoring the offensive and defensive lines first at Saginaw High and at Iowa. But he also became an artist, studying art at Iowa and becoming an art professor at Western Michigan and Michigan. At Saginaw High, Hinton participated in football, basketball and track, setting the school shot put record at 54 feet, 6 ¼ inches in 1958. At Iowa, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound lineman started every game his junior and senior seasons at offensive tackle and defensive end. As a senior, he was named all-Big Ten and the team’s MVP in 1961. He was drafted by the Dallas Texans of the American Football League in 1962, but opted to play in Canada for Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal.

21. TERRY EURICK, Arthur Hill

Terry Eurick starred for possibly the greatest high school football team in Michigan history, the 1973 Arthur Hill team that went 9-0 and outscored its opponents, 433-0. In his senior season, Eurick ran for 984 yards and to help Arthur Hill claim a mythical state title, earning all-state and Saginaw Valley League MVP honors. Eurick went to Notre Dame, where he became a captain and starting fullback. In his career, Eurick ran for 800 yards and nine touchdowns, gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated on Jan. 9, 1978 after he ran for two touchdowns in Notre Dame’s 38-10 Cotton Bowl win over top-ranked Texas and star Earl Campbell. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound back had four carries in the game for 16 yards, including the TD runs of 6 and 10 yards. He was not drafted but did receive an invitation to camp for the New Orleans Saints. He declined the invitation to take a job with General Motors.

20. HARRY HAWKINS, Arthur Hill

Harry Hawkins became the first All-American from Saginaw when he anchored Michigan’s offensive line for Fielding Yost, clearing a path for legendary players Benny Friedman and Bennie Oosterbaan and earning praise from Yost as “the greatest lineman of the year.’ Hawkins, who was a 6-foot, 185-pound lineman, started for three seasons at Michigan from 1923 through 1925, helping lead U-M to a 21-3 record. During his time at Michigan, the Wolverines outscored their opponents, 532-69. Hawkins, who completed in football and track at Arthur Hill, won the NCAA national title in the hammer throw.

Central Michigan tailback Brian Pruitt runs upfield for yardage against Western Michigan. He was a first team AP All-American. Pruitt rushed for 1,890 yards (second in the nation) and was the Mid-American Conference MVP. (Ken Stevens | File)

19. BRIAN PRUITT, Arthur Hill

Brian Pruitt starred at Arthur Hill in football, basketball and track before moving on to Central Michigan University, where he rewrote the Chippewas record books. Pruitt became Central Michigan’s first Associated Press All-American when he led CMU to the Mid-American Conference title in 1994. After running for 859 yards as a sophomore and 944 as a junior, Pruitt finished second in the country as a senior in rushing (1,890 yards), all-purpose yardage and scoring. He ran for 20 touchdowns and added six catches for 74 yards and two TDs. He ranks first in the CMU record books in yards in a season (1,890) and touchdowns in a season (20). He ranks second (356) and fifth (274) in yards gained in a game and stands fourth in career rushing yards (3,693) and seventh in career touchdowns (31). He was considered a potential top draft pick, but pre-draft physicals revealed a problem with the vertebrae in his neck. Pruitt signed as an undrafted free agent with Atlanta, but he was waived after he suffered a neck injury.

18. DeRONNIE PITTS, Saginaw High

After earning all-state and Saginaw Valley League MVP honors in 1995, DeRonnie Pitts left Saginaw High at attend Stanford, becoming one of the top receivers for the Cardinal and in the Pac 10. The 5-11, 200-pound Pitts played receiver, defensive back and kicker for the Trojans, but concentrated on receiver at Stanford. In his senior season at Stanford, Pitts caught 77 passes for 882 yards and eight touchdowns, earning all-Pac 10 honors. He was named Stanford’s MVP. He finished his career second in Stanford history in career receptions (228) and career receiving yards (3,023). He had two of the top five seasons in receptions in Stanford history, catching 77 passes in 2000 and 74 in 1998, ranking third in career touchdown catches with 24. His highlight game came in 2000 when Pitts caught 13 passes against Southern Cal. He also caught six passes for 81 yards in the 2000 Rose Bowl. Pitts signed as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers, but he went on to play in NFL Europe.

MSU Blair White breaks free in the Michigan secondary to score at touchdown against the Wolverines. (Paul L. Newby II | File)

17. BLAIR WHITE, Saginaw Nouvel

Blair White starred in football, basketball and baseball at Saginaw Nouvel, earning all-state honors in baseball and helping lead the Panthers to the 2005 baseball state title. As a senior, White caught 63 passes for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns before walking on at Michigan State. He earned a scholarship for his final two seasons at MSU, leading the Spartans in receptions as a junior with 43. As a senior, White caught 64 passes for 876 yards and nine touchdowns, earning all-Big Ten honors. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent and was activated from the practice squad during the 2019 season, catching 36 passes for 355 yards and five TDs. A back injury limited White to seven games in 2011 and forced him to retire after the season at the age of 25.

Charleston Hughes looks for running room against Farmington Hills Harrison during the 2002 season. (David A. Sommers | File)


While not a household name in the United States, Charleston Hughes remains one of the most-feared pass rushers in the Canadian Football League and a potential future member of the CFL Hall of Fame. Hughes, 35, is in his 12th season in the CFL and leads the league with 16 sacks this season for Saskatchewan. In his CFL career, Hughes has 130 sacks, five sacks away from fifth in CFL history and 27 from the record of 157. Hughes played linebacker for Saginaw High, graduating in 2002. He went to Northwood University, where he became the career tackles leader with 372. Hughes was a Division II all-American in 2006 and a four-time all-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honoree. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound linebacker played for Calgary from 2008 through 2017, then Saskatchewan in 2018 and 2019. Hughes, who was invited to the Philadelphia Eagles training camp in 2009, is a five-time CFL all-star and a two-time Grey Cup champion.

Former NFL player Monty Brown, left, works out with Heritage standout Brian Cole in 2014. (Tim Goessman | File)

15. MONTY BROWN, Bridgeport

Monty Brown was a three-sport standout at Bridgeport High school, leading the football team to the 1987 White Pine Conference title and committing to play at Ferris State. Ferris moved the 6-foot, 205-pound quarterback to safety, where he finished his freshman season with 86 tackles and three interceptions. He moved to linebacker for his final three seasons, finishing his Ferris career as a four-year starter with 584 tackles, 16 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. He finished fifth in balloting for the 1992 Harlon Hill trophy, Division II’s equivalent to the Heisman. He signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills and became a special teams standout, playing for the Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII before finishing his career as a 6-2, 265-pound linebacker with the New England Patriots. In four seasons, Brown played in 43 games with 13 starts, finishing with 106 tackles. After the NFL, he starred as a professional wrestler as the Alpha Male and was Marcus Cor Von in the video game, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2008.

Chicago Bears defensive tackle Alfonso Boone, a former Arthur Hill standout, rushes Detroit Lions QB Joey Harrington as Dominic Raiola blocks at Ford Field. (Michael Hollenbeck | File)

14. ALFONSO BOONE, Arthur Hill

Alfonso Boone flashed considerable potential at Arthur Hill, both at fullback and linebacker, but had trouble staying on the field, eventually taking an unorthodox path to the NFL. He went to Central State (Ohio) for one semester in 1994 and dropped out. He did not attend college again until 1998, when he went to live with his aunt and uncle in Walnut, California, near Mt. San Antonio College. He played two years for the junior college, then learned that his five-year NCAA window of eligibility was exhausted. He applied for the draft and was taken by the Detroit Lions with the second-to-last pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. The Lions did not protect him, and the Chicago Bears picked him up. He played with the Bears for seven seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs for two seasons and the San Diego Chargers for two seasons. In 11 seasons, 129 games and 41 starts, the 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive lineman had 165 tackles, 15.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Patton from SCSHOF on Vimeo.

13. JERRY PATTON, Saginaw High

Jerry Patton earned all-state honors as a junior and was the Saginaw Valley League MVP in basketball, track and football as a senior before signing to play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive end started three seasons for Nebraska. He played two years of semi-pro football before signing with the Minnesota Vikings and playing in three games in 1971. He found a spot with the Buffalo Bills, starting for two seasons before joining the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive line rotation in 1974. He had an interception and fumble during the 1974 season before signing with the New England Patriots, retiring after the 1975 season.

New York Jets James Reed, a former Saginaw High standout, watches his teammates during their football game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. (Michael Hollenbeck | File)

12. JAMES REED, Saginaw High

Despite earning all-state honors at Saginaw High in 1995 after a senior season that included 117 tackles, 10 sacks and two interceptions, James Reed was not a top recruit, opting to play for Iowa State. After the 6-foot, 286-pound defensive lineman finished his Iowa State career as a four-year starter, the New York Jets drafted Reed in the seventh round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He made the team and ended up playing five years for the Jets, two years with the Kansas City Chiefs and one year with the New Orleans Saints before a torn Achilles tendon ended his career. He finished his eight-year NFL career with 199 tackles and seven sacks in 99 games.

11. CLIFTON RYAN, Arthur Hill

Clifton Ryan starred at fullback and linebacker at Arthur Hill, finishing his career with 310 tackles and 12 sacks. One of the top college recruits in Michigan, Ryan chose to play for Michigan State. In his second year at Michigan State, Ryan moved to defensive tackle and flourished. In 35 starts, Ryan had 118 tackles and 10.5 sacks. The St. Louis Rams took the 6-foot-3, 324-pound lineman in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL draft. He became one of the top young defensive linemen in the NFL and a starter on the Rams’ defensive line until a concussion in 2010 and resulting migraines ended his career.

Jimmy Ellis scored 11 touchdowns during the 1948 season, including both in the Trojans’ 14-6 win over Arthur Hill on Thanksgiving Day. (John D. Tucker | File)

10. JIMMY ELLIS, Saginaw High

Jimmy Ellis grew up in Chicago, but he moved to Saginaw to become a football and track star in 1947 and 1948. He made the all-state football team in football and won a state title in track in the quarter-mile run. He moved on to Michigan State, where he earned all-America honors in 1951 and 1952, playing for the Spartans’ undefeated 1952 team. The Cleveland Browns drafted Ellis after his junior season, but Ellis instead served in the U.S. Army. After his service was completed, Ellis played in the Canadian Football League.

9. TED PETOSKEY, Saginaw High

Ted Petoskey, who grew up in St. Charles and went to Saginaw High, starred in three sports for the Trojans and for the University of Michigan. He was a two-time all-American in football in 1932 and 1933 for the Wolverines, leading the team to a pair of national titles as an end and fullback. He was also the starting guard and captain of the Michigan basketball team and led the Big Ten in hitting in 1934 with a .452 batting average. In 1926, he became the first player in MHSAA history to catch five TD passes in one game, earning all-state honors as a receiver two years and as a fullback another year. During his three seasons at Michigan, the Wolverines were 23-1-2. He opted to pursue a baseball career and played for the Cincinnati Reds in 1934 and 1935. After he retired, he coached the South Carolina basketball team, the South Carolina baseball team and the Wofford football team.

Michigan’s Sam Sword celebrates his interception late in the fourth quarter to end Iowa’s closing minute drive. Charles Woodson hops on for a ride. (Chris Clark | File)

8. SAM SWORD, Arthur Hill

Sam Sword helped lead Arthur Hill to a state title in football, earning all-state honors in 1993 as a 6-foot-1, 245-pound linebacker. He went to the University of Michigan, where he led the Wolverines in tackles for three straight seasons. He finished third in Michigan history with 265 solo tackles, earning all-Big Ten honors in 1997. He was not drafted, but he signed as a free agent with the Raiders in 1999 before playing for the Indianapolis Colts from 2000-02.
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Dick Rifenburg starred at Arthur Hill and the University of Michigan before playing in the NFL. ( File)

7. DICK RIFENBURG, Arthur Hill

Dick Rifenburg was one of the most dominating ends in college football for the University of Michigan, but a knee injury during practice for an all-star game changed his plans after he was drafted by both the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Yankees (All-America Football Conference). He went to work for WJR radio in Detroit, but Rifenburg returned to the field to play for the Lions in 1950, catching 10 passes for 96 yards. At Arthur Hill, he won state titles in track and basketball. He played football at Arthur Hill and then at Michigan, helping lead the Wolverines to national championships in 1947 and 1948, earning all-American honors as a 6-foot-3 receiver. In four seasons at U-M, Rifenburg played in 32 games with more than 1,000 yards of total offense. He held Michigan’s single-season (8) and career record (16) for touchdowns until they were broken by Anthony Carter in 1980. After his football career, he became a broadcaster and was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

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