Vanderbilt has been a prestigious university ever since its founding in 1873. However, it isn’t widely viewed as a major athletic university. With that said, Vandy has still produced athletes who managed to achieve greatness at the highest level of their respective sport. But who are the top five greatest professional athletes who attended Vanderbilt?
#5: Clyde Lee (NBA)
The first athlete on our list is a Nashville native. Clyde Lee was born and raised in Nashville and attended Vanderbilt in the mid 1960s. After playing for four years at Vanderbilt he was selected 3rd overall by the San Francisco Warriors in the 1966 NBA Draft. As an inside scoring specialist, he compiled 5,733 points and 7,626 rebounds during his 10 year career. Additionally, he was voted an NBA All-Star in 1968. He was also inducted into the Vanderbilt Sports HOF in their inaugural class. Although he had an impressive career, his lone All-Star appearance wasn’t enough to propel him higher on the list.
Source: Vanderbilt Athletics
#4: Will Perdue (NBA)
Perdue is the most successful player to appear on our list, from a championships perspective. After being selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 11th overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft, he went on to become a 4 time NBA Champion. He won the ultimate prize in the league three times with the Bulls and once with the Spurs. However, throughout most of his career he played as a backup center. In fact, he only started over 50 games once in his career (1994-95). Despite being a role player, he was still an important member of the iconic Michael Jordan led Bulls teams of the early 90s. Even though he wasn’t a starter for the majority of his career, it is impossible to keep a 4 time NBA Champion off of this list.
Source: Associated Press
#3: Brandt Snedeker (PGA)
Snedeker, another Nashville native, enjoyed an impressive college career before turning professional in 2004. In 2007, his first year on the PGA tour, he was named the PGA Rookie of the Year. While this is impressive, his best work was yet to come. In 2013, he was ranked the 4th best golfer in the world by the Official World Golf Ranking after winning the 2013 AT&T National Pebble Beach Pro-Am. On top of his 8 PGA tour wins (including the FedEx Cup), he has two 3rd place finishes, two top 5 finishes, and nine top 10 finishes in major championships. His career is still ongoing, as he is currently ranked 91st in the world.
Source: Golf News Net
#2: Jay Cutler (NFL)
Jay Cutler is by far the most recognizable and controversial player on this list. After an impressive career at Vanderbilt, Cutler went on to be selected by the Denver Broncos with the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. We all know what happened from there. He proceeded to bounce around the league, ultimately playing for the Broncos, Bears, and Dolphins. While he has consistently been a solid quarterback, he has also gained a negative stigma of being hard to work with and battled turnover problems throughout his career. However, he still garnered several accolades during his career. He is a former Pro Bowler (2008), AFC passing yards leader (2008), and holds numerous franchise records for the Chicago Bears (who haven’t been known for their outstanding quarterback play). While he did lead the Bears to an NFC Championship appearance, his lack of a championship is ultimately what keeps him from claiming the top spot on this list. Unless he finds the fountain of youth, and an NFL team willing to sign him, the 35 year old signal caller’s fate is likely sealed.
Source: Sporting News
#1: David Price (MLB)
Price began his professional career by being selected as the first overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. Since then, he has won the Cy Young Award (awarded to the best pitchers in baseball) once and finished second in voting for the award an additional time. He has also led the MLB in strikeouts (2014) and has been an MLB All-Star five times. Price has exhibited a greatness at his position that no other player on this list has achieved. At times, he has been the best player in the league at his position. This alone puts him as the by far greatest professional athlete that Vanderbilt has ever produced.
Source: Boston Globe