The 2009 HP All-American Team–Offense

Now for the sixth edition of the very prestigious HP All-American squad.  First, the offense:


1st team–Case Keenum, Houston

2nd team–Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame

3rd team–Colt McCoy, Texas

Note: Obviously a very difficult decision on this one, but I think Keenum’s overall numbers–5,410 yards, 43 touchdowns, 9 picks, 71% completion percentage–are too amazing to ignore.  Clausen had a brilliant season, too, while McCoy overcame the pressure of the spotlight to lead Texas to the title game.


1st team–Toby Gerhart, Stanford

2nd team–Mark Ingram, Alabama

3rd team–Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State

Note: Gerhart was the most dominant and consistent tailback in the country, leading it in rushing yardage and touchdowns.  Ingram was at his best in big games, while Rodgers was the most versatile back in the country.


1st team–Vince Murray, Navy

2nd team–Owen Marecic, Stanford

3rd team–Stanley Havili, USC

Note: At HP, I always pick an All-American fullback as the position exists on most rosters and therefore should be recognized as such.  Murray had a huge year for Navy, rushing for 925 yards and six touchdowns.  Marecic is simply an amazing blocker and he ploughed the way for Gerhart most of the time.  Havili excelled as a pass catcher and runner but was slowed some by injuries.

Wide Receiver

1st team–Golden Tate, Notre Dame; Danario Alexander, Missouri

2nd team–Jordan Shipley, Texas; Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati

3rd team–James Cleveland, Houston; Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas

Note: Golden Tate was unstoppable all year, catching 93 passes for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns.  Alexander burst onto the scene with a monster season of 107 catches for 1,644 yards and 13 touchdowns.  Shipley had a great season and helped Texas get to the promised land, while Gilyard was a playmaker extraordinaire for Cincinnati.  Cleveland was Keenum’s main target while Briscoe was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal Jayhawk campaign.

Tight End

1st team–Dennis Pitta, BYU

2nd team–Aaron Hernandez, Florida

3rd team–Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame

Note:  Pitta was the best traditional tight end in the country, catching 56 balls for 766 yards and seven scores.  Hernandez constantly displayed his impressive physical gifts for the Gators while Rudolph physically dominated at times against opposing defenders.

Offensive Line Unit

Per HP tradition, we will not choose individual All-Americans on the offensive line.

We refuse to do so because, unlike other people who pick All-Americans, we admit that we have no idea who really are the best offensive linemen.

There are no individual stats to go by. Highlights rarely show what they do. We could go off of hearsay, but wouldn’t that be dishonest? What’s more, there are 585 starting offensive linemen in Division One. It’s almost impossible to have seen enough of them to know who is really the best.  Did anyone pick Baylor’s Jason Smith–the second pick in the draft–on their preseason team last year?  I don’t think so.  So, while other All-American teams choose linemen based almost solely on reputation, we will not.

However, we will choose the best line unit in the country, since this is a bit easier to quantify. That honor goes to Stanford, which led the nation in fewest tackles for losses allowed (39), was second in sacks allowed (7) and helped Cardinal backs go for 224 yards per game (11th nationally).  Second team honors went to Boise State, which averaged 194 yards on the ground while allowing a nation-leading five sacks all season.  Third team honors went to Nevada’s line, which helped the Wolfpack average 362 yards per game on the ground. 

1st team–Stanford

2nd team–Boise State

3rd team–Nevada

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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28 Responses to The 2009 HP All-American Team–Offense

  1. InTheBleachers December 15, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    I love the offensive line picks, there isn’t enough film to find and evaluate them to truly determine who deserves. You’d have to literally watch all the snaps and games and then decide if run blocking, pass blocking, blitz pick up or pancakes were more important.

    DeNario Alexander, thank you for that pick as well. No GT guys on there though? I thought Bebe Thomas was a beast, just not enough stats to put him up there.

  2. slippy December 15, 2009 at 7:17 pm #

    Can’t really disagree with much there. I’m sure the SEC fans will be along shortly to tell you Ingram won the Heisman so he should be first.

    Can’t stand ND but have to wonder if Floyd stayed healthy if they could have been a tandem AA-WR combo.

    Just waiting for the defense. If Taylor Mays is anywhere close to that list I’m leaving.

  3. wrmsox December 15, 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    How many teams would this group beat in the NFL? I’m thinking several !

  4. Clay December 16, 2009 at 10:45 am #

    Nice looking team…but they would not beat an NFL team.

  5. Anonymous December 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    This team has a pronounced West Coast feel to it! Hmmm…

  6. jeremy December 16, 2009 at 6:09 pm #

    west coast? huh?

    3 guys out of 18 (plus stanford/nevada o-line) – thats Pronounced West coast feel? Am I missing something?

    let me guess – you are from fill in the blank _______ southern state and think more SEC players should be on the list?

  7. Anonymous December 16, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

    Make that 20 out of 33 from the far west… and Stanford’s tight end must be truly awful to not be an HP All American.

  8. Ed Newman December 17, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    “Make that 20 out of 33 from the far west… and Stanford’s tight end must be truly awful to not be an HP All American.”

    You’re counting the O-linemen individually? Probably not the best idea.

    Nevertheless it does seem a little heavy with representatives West of the Rockies. Sometimes that is how things shake out. When the list is SEC and ACC heavy does anyone say “Hey, why is half of the list from the south?”

  9. sandymex December 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    Ed –

    Can you give an example of an All American list that is over 60% from the south?

  10. Ed Newman December 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm #

    Not this year.

  11. Heismanpundit December 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm #

    Sandymex: how about the AP All-American team?

    of the 1st team, 22 selections, 17 are from the South (including Texas).

    How’s that? Good enough for ya?

  12. sandymex December 17, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    HP –

    Texas is in the southwest… lumping them with the south makes as much sense as lumping them with the west.

    Among the 39 offensive AP All Americans:
    West: 11 (7 Pac 10, 4 other)
    South: 11 (8 SEC, 3 ACC)
    Southwest: 9 (9 Big 12)

    Among the 36 defensive AP All Americans:
    West: 5 (4 Pac 10, 1 other)
    South: 13 (10 SEC, 3 ACC)
    Southwest: 10 (9 Big 12, 1 other)

    24 out of 75 All Americans from the South is about right since 24 out of 65 BCS teams are from the South. HP’s All American Offense is still comically over 60% from the West.

  13. HP December 18, 2009 at 4:29 am #

    You have a real talent for distorting stats. First you add receiving totals to Ingram’s rushing stats–which is something no one has ever done–and now you suddenly expand the AP 1st team (my standard) to several teams instead of one (11 players becomes 33). And of course you take my offensive line unit and create five linemen, which distorts my total. Somehow, to have 1/3 of players from the South is about right…ignoring the fact that there are several regions. Whatever!

  14. sandymex December 18, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    HP –

    I used the exact same standard to look at the HP All-Americans before you brought up the AP.

    HP Offensive All-Americans:
    20 of 33 from the west (61%)
    2 of 33 from the south (6%)

    AP Offensive All-Americans:
    11 of 39 from the west (28%)
    11 of 39 from the south (28%)

    Since you want to lump Texas into the south region, why not also include southern California while you’re at it? You can’t redefine the questions just because you hate what the answers say about you.


    You claim combining rushing and receiving yards “is something no one has ever done.”

    USA Today: “Of his 1,864 total yards this season, Ingram has gained 1,002 yards after contact, 53.7% of his total yards.”

    Sports Illustrated: “Ingram, whose 1,864 total yards and 18 touchdowns helped lift No. 1 Alabama to a 13-0…”

    That’s two reputable sources doing exactly what I did. But I don’t mind if you separate rushing and receiving yards as long as you list both. In a comparison with Gerhart you argued that Ingram only had 113 yards against Florida… failing to acknowledge his 76 yards receiving, including the longest play of the game.

    As the Orlando Sentinel succinctly put it:
    “Ingram totals 189 yards in the win over the Gators”

  15. HP December 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    1. No you did not use the same standard. I looked at the AP first team. 17 of 22 from the South and Texas. Texas was in the confederacy, so I’d call it more South than West, no?

    2. You are only able to come up with your numbers by including all the linemen from the unit that I name All-American. Intellectually dishonest. Also, I name a fullback to my team–which no other team does–and two of them are from the West, so that distorts it.

    3. Just because you can find instances of people citing total yards does not mean that his total yardage is the most oft-cited stat. If anything, the only reason his total yards were cited at all was to make him look better statistically–which is exactly why you are doing it. You wouldn’t have to cite total yardage if you had any confidence in his rushing yardage numbers. Also, you always neglect the fact that he played 13 games and that his per game rushing average was the fewest by a heisman-winning back in the two-platoon era. No wonder you want to add his receiving totals to that. I’m sure you will now come up with another crazy distorted stat, so have at it.

  16. sandymex December 18, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    1. So now you’re dividing the country into north and south and not even talking about the Heisman regions? LOL… thanks for clarifying.

    2. Your 1st, 2nd and 3rd offensive teams consist of 20 players from the west. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to vote for offensive lineman as a block, but pretending the offensive line doesn’t consist of 5 players makes no sense. That would mean you’re somehow not fielding a full team.

    3. You said no one ever combines rushing and receiving yards into total yards. I provided reputable sources that do. I’ve said you’re free to keep them separate, but when you omit receiving yards in your comparisons it is deceptive.

  17. Heismanpundit December 18, 2009 at 4:12 pm #

    1. Why would Heisman regions apply when it comes to picking All-Americans? If you can regard BYU as being in the West, then we can regard Texas as being in the South, no?

    2. You’re being silly here to prove your point. My line unit is essentially a single honor, not five different honors. I am not saying that all five of those players are All-Americans.

    3. No one ever combines rushing yards and receiving yards to make a case for a running back over another running back when the first running back has clearly been outgained statistically on the ground. Most people compare apples to apples. When the Heisman history is written, it will not be Ingram’s total yardage that is put down, but his rushing yardsage. Go ahead and look back at the past Heisman-winning backs and tell me how many stories you see that combines their rushing and receiving yards. Marcus ALlen ran and caught for 2,596 yards in 1981, but it is his 2,342 rushing yardage that is recorded. The move to include Ingram’s receiving totals in recent stories is a tacit acknowledgment that his rushing totals are not that impressive.

  18. Ed Newman December 18, 2009 at 8:49 pm #


    You’re saying that it is rare to include total yards in RB’s Heisman stats. You know what is even more rare? Including Texas in the South. Not really done outside of football, not really done by Southerners or Texans, shouldn’t be done in football.

  19. sandymex December 19, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    1. BYU is in the west region.
    Texas is still in the southwest.

    2. There is nothing silly or unreasonable about showing where your 33 All-Americans come from. If you don’t want the offensive line to count, don’t put them on your All-American team. There is something silly about having 20 of 33 from the region you represent.

    3. Now you claim we shouldn’t consider other stats if one running back has clearly outgained another on the ground? You must have been outraged that Reggie Bush won in 2005. Bush averaged 40 yards less per game than the Pac 10 leader and had 8 less rushing TDs than one of his teammates.

    Here’s USC touting Bush before he won:
    “[Bush] led the country in all-purpose yardage with 2,611 yards for a 217.58-yard average per game, and his 18 touchdowns tied for seventh.”

    USC lumped yards and TDs together from rushing, receiving, and punt & kick returns. I don’t have a problem with this as long as they are clear on what they’re doing. But most would have a problem with ignoring receiving yards in a close Heisman race.

    I think its funny that you voted Gerhart #1, excluded Ingram completely and stuck your 3rd team All American QB in between.

  20. Heismanpundit December 21, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    1. North Dakota is also in the Far West Region. Shall we include players from there as being ‘out west?’ you see the fallacy in your point?

  21. Ed Newman December 21, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    Does North Dakota have any FBS teams? I’m not sure what your point is HP.

    You need to start looking at this with some common sense. Any state with the Rocky Mountains is a western state (and most are western boundary states). Any state with an SEC school is the South. You could make the case that Virginia is the one state without an SEC school that is also the South, but I’m not sure I’d buy it. Please don’t cite artificially created divisions as proof of anything. Leagues and divisions sometimes happen to coincide with geographical reality, but that’s merely coincidence anymore. The SEC, PAC 10 and Ivy League might be the only conferences that are completely contained within a classic regional geography.

  22. sandymex December 21, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    HP –

    Ed says it well. Still wondering why it’s ok to bring up receiving yards and TDs for Reggie Bush, but not ok to do the same for Mark Ingram. It looks like west coast bias.

    Ignoring the fact that Reggie Bush was a dirty cheat, I could make a great argument for why he should have won the Heisman:

    1. Many more wins than other candidates.
    2. Helped his team go undefeated.
    3. Higher yards/carry average.
    4. More non-rushing yards and TDs.
    5. Fumbled less often than other candidates.
    6. Comparable yards with fewer touches.

    Sound familiar?

  23. Heismanpundit December 22, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    Are you really comparing Bush to Ingram? Bush was an all-around, all-purpose dynamo, which is why people included all his yards–he did so much to affect a game. Ingram averaged almost 3 yards less per carry, didn’t return punts or kicks and had fewer everything than Bush did when he won the Heisman.

    They both played running back for undefeated teams, but that’s about the only similarity.

    So, no, it does not sound familiar.

  24. sandymex December 23, 2009 at 8:48 am #

    HP said:
    “No one ever combines rushing yards and receiving yards to make a case for a running back over another running back when the first running back has clearly been outgained statistically on the ground.”

    You made a broad false statement to justify excluding Ingram from your ballot, which is inconsistent with your support of Bush. Bush was a running back who rushed for 40 yards/game less that 3 other Heisman candidates. Setting aside the cheating, I say Bush deserved it for the reasons I listed. You’re stuck using a broad and erroneous standard to exclude Ingram that you refuse to apply to Bush.

  25. Ed Newman December 23, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    HP said ” No one ever combines rushing yards and receiving yards to make a case for a running back over another running back when the first running back has clearly been outgained statistically on the ground. Most people compare apples to apples. When the Heisman history is written, it will not be Ingram’s total yardage that is put down, but his rushing yardsage. Go ahead and look back at the past Heisman-winning backs and tell me how many stories you see that combines their rushing and receiving yards.”

    sandymex gave you Reggie Bush, undeniably a running back, in response. And no, he wasn’t comparing Bush to Ingram. He was refuting your argument that RBs are only measured by their rushing yards when it comes to the Heisman. An argument you lose, by the way, since Bush was certainly measured by more than just his rushing yards. He never would have won the Heisman on his rushing totals alone. You can say that Ingram was not the same kind of threat as Bush and his rushing totals should be weighted more heavily than Bush, but you CAN’T say rushing yards are all that matter.

  26. HP December 23, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    You guys are both being remarkably obtuse–and wrong–on this issue.

    My statement should not be hard to understand. Bush was explicitly known for his first two seasons as an all-purpose back. He returned punts, kicks, rushed for yardage and caught balls. He finished fifth in the Heisman in 2004 (and not higher) primarily because his RUSHING totals lagged behind other backs in the race (i.e.: Adrian Peterson), even though his total yardage was greater. When 2005 came around, it was his substantially increased rushing totals–plus a 9-yard per carry average–that led him to the Heisman. That year, only Jerome Harrison finished in the top 10 of the Heisman vote. But people didn’t use Bush’s total yardage to justify him, they just said he was better–more electric, more game-changing, and so on.

    Yes, backs who are recognized universally as all-purpose backs have their total yardage taken into account. C.J. Spiller being a prime example. But Ingram is not recognized as an all-purpose back. He is seen as a grind-it-out running back who caught some passes on the side. No one is going to go around citing Ingram’s all-purpose yardage after this–they will cite his rushing yardage and wonder why such a low total managed to win the Heisman.

    So, no, rushing yards are not all that matter when you are a multi-purpose player in a wide-open offense who can go 90 yards for a touchdown and electrify a crowd. But when you are a workhorse in a grind-it-out attack, that’s the primary stat.

    Finally, my statement was not meant to keep Ingram off anyone’s ballot, especially mine. It was an explanation of the perception of running backs in the Heisman race. The reason Ingram was not on my ballot is that he is not as good as the other players that I voted for. Period.

    I am right. You are wrong. Merry Christmas.

  27. Ed Newman December 23, 2009 at 8:41 pm #


    If any one is being obtuse here it is you. Our point is simple. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say all purpose yards don’t matter at all for a running back and in the same thread say “oh except for Reggie Bush who happens to be a running back but should really just have a new position named for him, maybe something like SDAPS (Super Duper All Purpose Stud).”

    Since they mattered for Bush then they matter for Ingram, even if they don’t matter quite as much as they did for Bush. Even though Ingram’s main impact came through rushing the ball, he did have some level of impact receiving and you can’t ignore it.

    Have a Happy Holiday.

  28. John Holman December 29, 2009 at 3:14 am #

    you guys must have a lot of time because all the arguments are retarded. find something real to do. of course I did just waste my time reading this, proving I don’t have much better to do. I’m gonna go eat a bullet because of reading this unbelievable waste of time. At least that will clear it out of my head. jeeeeeeez.