Playing in a top college football program is one of the more assured routes to the NFL. Teams begin scouting the nation's elite youngsters whilst they're still in high school, but it's their performance at top universities that see them qualify for the draft.
Some universities are more prestigious than others due to their consistency in producing the very best young players. Able to provide their students with elite-level coaching, facilities and academic programs, participation in one of these A-list college programs provides young players with a much better chance of one day suiting up in the NFL.
The 2021 NFL draft is a week away, so to get into the spirit of things nice and early, let's take a look at the top five colleges with the most No.1 overall picks in the history of the draft.
Which are the top 5 colleges with the most No.1 overall picks in the history of the NFL draft?
(Due to a three-way tie for the top spot, this list ended up being a top-six, rather than a top-five.)
#T-1 Notre Dame - Five No.1 overall picks
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have lifted the National College Football Championship on nine separate occasions, including four titles under the guidance of legendary coach Frank Leahy.
With a history so rich, it comes an as little surprise that Notre Dame's college football program has produced some of the best players to ever play in the league, too.
Five No.1 overall picks also came through the ranks at Notre Dame, placing the college in joint first on the all-time list. Walt Patulski (1972), Paul Hornung (1957), Leon Hart (1950), Frank Dancewicz (1946), Angelo Bertelli (1944) are the five players that played for Notre Dame and were also the first picks in the NFL draft.
Four-time Super Bowl champion Joe Montana and legendary running back Jerome Bettis are among the program's notable alumni who weren't picked number one overall in the NFL draft.
#T-1 Southern California - Five No.1 overall picks
The University of Southern California has been a conveyor belt of NFL talent since the inception of the Trojans in 1888. Clay Matthews Sr., Clay Matthews ll, Troy Polamalu, Junior Seau, Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott -- the list of supreme footballing talent goes on!
The No.1 overall picks from USC include Carson Palmer (2003), Keyshawn Johnson (1996), Ricky Bell (1977), O.J. Simpson (1969) and Ron Yary (1968).
#T-1 Oklahoma - Five No.1 overall picks
The Oklahoma Sooners have seven national championships under their belt and have been home to two of the last three No.1 overall picks in the NFL draft.
Kyler Murray (2019), Baker Mayfield (2018), Sam Bradford (2010), Billy Sims (1980), Lee Roy Selmon (1976) make up the complete list.
T-4 Auburn - Four No.1 overall picks
Cam Newton (2011), Aundray Bruce (1988), Bo Jackson (1986), Tucker Frederickson (1965) are the No.1 picks that have entered the NFL following impressive stints at Auburn.
Former No.1 overall pick Cam Newton was also crowned NFL MVP in 2015 after he led the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record and an appearance in Super Bowl 50.
#T-4 Georgia - Four No.1 overall picks
Fans of the Georgia Bulldogs have seen their fair share of elite NFL players. 1990s All-Decade star RB Terrell Davis is the first player that springs to mind.
The university also nurtured veteran QB Matthew Stafford, who moved from Detroit to the Los Angeles Rams during the offseason.
Matthew Stafford (2009), Harry Babcock (1953), Charley Trippi (1945), Frank Sinkwich (1943) are Georgia alumni that were picked first overall in the NFL draft.
#T-4 Stanford - Four No.1 overall picks
Not only is Standford a world-famous academic institution, but it's also a famed breeding ground for top NFL talent.
Andrew Luck (2012), John Elway (1983), Jim Plunkett (1971), and Bobby Garrett (1954) are all former number one picks that plied their trade for the Cardinals.