The team selected by Whitney in 1889 marked the origin of the "All-America" teams that have since appeared in every collegiate sport from men's ice hockey to women's gymnastics. All eleven members of the 1889 All-America team played for three teams—Harvard, Princeton or Yale, then known as the "Big Three" of college football. Some sources indicate that Walter Camp assisted Whitney with the selection of the 1889 All-American team, while others indicate that Camp did not become involved in the selection process until some time in the 1890s.
Knowlton Ames (1868–1931): A native of Chicago, Princeton's All-America fullback "Snake" Ames set an unofficial collegiate scoring record in his time with 730 points, including 62 touchdowns and 176 points after touchdown. Ames is credited with being the first player to execute a fake punt and part of the first team to fully develop the "power sweep." Ames moved west to coach Purdue University from 1891 to 1892.
Hector Cowan (1863–1941): Princeton's tackle, "Hec" Cowan helped lead the 1889 Princeton team to a perfect 10–0 record. Pudge Heffelfinger later said of Cowan, "He had the strongest shoulders and arms I've ever been up against and his stubby legs drove like pistons when he carried the ball. Hector could carry a couple of tacklers on his back, yet he was plenty fast in the open." He later served as the coach at the University of Kansas from 1894 to 1896.
Edgar Allan Poe (1871–1961): Princeton's quarterback, Poe was named after his relative and celebrated poet Edgar Allan Poe. After Princeton beat Harvard, 41–15, a Harvard man reportedly asked a Princeton alumnus whether Poe was related to the great Edgar Allan Poe. According to the story, "the alumnus looked at him in astonishment and replied, 'He is the great Edgar Allan Poe.'" Poe graduated Phi Beta Kappa and later served as the Attorney General of the State of Maryland from 1911 to 1915.
Arthur Cumnock (1868–1930): Harvard's Cumnock was known as a fierce tackler and has been ranked by one author as perhaps the greatest player in that school's long football tradition. Cumnock later went into the cotton mill business and was the treasurer of one of the largest corporations in New England.