While most colleges and universities field a football team as part of its general athletics program, there are some for which football is more than merely a sport—it’s akin almost to a religion. Devotion to the team and its colors is as important to that school’s culture as a religious icon is to a believer. These programs actively scout and recruit notable high school players, and are in turn rigorously applied to by matriculating seniors eager to make a name for themselves at the collegiate level.

Among the most notable college football empires are Notre Dame, the universities of Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, Penn State, Ohio State—the list goes on and on.

But for every touchstone football school, there is an outlier that has produced some of the most successful and cherished players in the game. Think Jackson State, which gave us “Sweetness” himself, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Or Mississippi Valley State, which yielded 3-time Super Bowl champion and #1 Player in NFL History, as voted by the NFL Network, ‘49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Each year, the college draft serves as a source of renewal to professional football and a testament to the quality of college programs nationwide. With the 2022 NFL draft set to take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks from the San Diego State Aztecs using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Patrick Rowe (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #52 overall in 1992
– Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#19. Henry Allison (G)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #50 overall in 1971
– Drafted by: Philadelphia Eagles
– Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#18. Chester Pitts (T)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #50 overall in 2002
– Drafted by: Houston Texans
– Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (0 Pro Bowls)

#17. Tom Reynolds (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #49 overall in 1972
– Drafted by: New England Patriots
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#16. Vernon Dean (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #49 overall in 1982
– Drafted by: Washington Football Team
– Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#15. Matt Kofler (QB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #48 overall in 1982
– Drafted by: Buffalo Bills
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#14. Gavin Escobar (TE)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #47 overall in 2013
– Drafted by: Dallas Cowboys
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#13. Deacon Turner (RB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #45 overall in 1978
– Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#12. Webster Slaughter (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #43 overall in 1986
– Drafted by: Cleveland Browns
– Years as a starter in NFL: 9 (2 Pro Bowls)

#11. Tory Nixon (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #33 overall in 1985
– Drafted by: Washington Football Team
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#10. Ken Burrow (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #33 overall in 1971
– Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
– Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (0 Pro Bowls)

#9. Darnay Scott (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #30 overall in 1994
– Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
– Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (0 Pro Bowls)

#8. Dennis Shaw (QB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #30 overall in 1970
– Drafted by: Buffalo Bills
– Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#7. Monte Jackson (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 2, #28 overall in 1975
– Drafted by: Los Angeles Rams
– Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (2 Pro Bowls)

#6. Rashaad Penny (RB)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #27 overall in 2018
– Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#5. Dan McGwire (QB)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #16 overall in 1991
– Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
– Years as a starter in NFL: 0

#4. Isaac Curtis (WR)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #15 overall in 1973
– Drafted by: Cincinnati Bengals
– Years as a starter in NFL: 12 (4 Pro Bowls)

#3. Willie Buchanon (DB)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #7 overall in 1972
– Drafted by: Green Bay Packers
– Years as a starter in NFL: 8 (2 Pro Bowls)

#2. Kyle Turley (T)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #7 overall in 1998
– Drafted by: New Orleans Saints
– Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#1. Marshall Faulk (RB)
– Draft pick: Round 1, #2 overall in 1994
– Drafted by: Indianapolis Colts
– Years as a starter in NFL: 11 (7 Pro Bowls)