The 2011 All-American Team: The Defense

We did the offense on Monday. Now for the defense. Again, I try to honor a player at each of the proper positions instead of (for instance) having four ends represent the defensive line (as some All-American teams do):

Defensive End

1st Team: Whitney Mercilus, Illinois; Sam Montgomery, LSU

2nd Team: Andre Branch, Clemson; Melvin Ingram, South Carolina

3rd Team: Vinny Curry, Marshall; Nick Perry, USC

Honorable Mention
Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Dion Jordan, Oregon
Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
Quinton Coples, North Carolina
Shea McClellin, Boise State

Comment: Mercilus was a terror off the edge, leading the nation with 14.5 sacks, while Montgomery was the best player on LSU’s fearsome defensive line.

Defensive Tackle

1st Team: Devon Still, Penn State; Kawann Short, Purdue

2nd Team: Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati; Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State

3rd Team: Jerel Worthy, Michigan State; Logan Harrell, Fresno State

Honorable Mention
Brandon Thompson, Clemson
Kendall Reyes, Connecticut
Mike Daniels, Iowa
Mike Martin, Michigan
Alameda Ta’amu, Washington

Comment: It was a strong year for interior defensive linemen in the Big Ten, with Short notching 17.5 tackles for loss (despite the loss of Ryan Kerrigan to the draft) and Still getting 17 to lead the Nittany Lions.

Outside Linebacker

1st Team: Sammy Brown, Houston; Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

2nd Team: Lavonte David, Nebraska; Jarvis Jones, Georgia

3rd Team: Sean Spence, Miami; Chase Thomas, Stanford

Honorable Mention
Danny Trevathan, Kentucky
Zach Brown, North Carolina
Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Mychal Kendricks, California
Nigel Bradham, Florida State
Emmanuel Acho, Texas
Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

Comment: Brown’s 28 tackles for loss led the nation, but he also had 88 tackles and 12.5 sacks. Upshaw made plays all year long for the Tide, collecting 17 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.

Inside Linebacker

1st Team: Luke Kuechley, Boston College

2nd Team: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

3rd Team: Dont’a Hightower, Alabama

Honorable Mention
Audie Cole, North Carolina State
Tank Carder, TCU
Carmen Messina, New Mexico
Chris Marve, Vanderbilt
Adrien Cole, Louisiana Tech

Comment: Keuchley is simply the best tackler college football has seen in a long time. Te’o had another fine season for the Irish.


1st Team: Morris Claiborne, LSU; Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

2nd Team: Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama; Dave Amerson, North Carolina State

3rd Team: Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt; Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech

Honorable Mention
DeQuan Menzie, Alabama
Desmond Trufant, Washington
Nickell Robey, USC
Chase Minnifield, Virginia
Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
Micah Hyde, Iowa
Keith Tandy, West Virginia
Jordan Poyer, Oregon State

Comment: Between the two, Claiborne is the purest corner, but Mathieu is the better overall football player. They were the keys to LSU’s SEC title run.

Free Safety

1st Team: Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

2nd Team: T.J. McDonald, USC

3rd Team: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State

Honorable Mention
Robert Lester, Alabama
Trenton Robinson, Michigan State
Aaron Henry, Wisconsin
Eric Reid, LSU

Comment: In an amazing year for SEC defensive backs, Rambo stood out at the free safety spot, snagging a league-high 7 interceptions.

Strong Safety

1st Team: Winston Guy, Kentucky

2nd Team: Mark Barron, Alabama

3rd Team: Brandon Taylor, LSU

Honorable Mention
Eddie Pleasant, Oregon
Tavon Wilson, Illinois
Antonio Allen, South Carolina
Delano Howell, Stanford

Comment: Barron had another fine season, but Guy was special for the Wildcats, collecting 120 tackles, 14 tackles for loss  and intercepting two passes.

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One Response to The 2011 All-American Team: The Defense

  1. Mat December 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    Trufant’s inclusion is a bad joke. He may have forced a few turnovers, but watching him try to play man was painful. Brandon Kauffman (of mediocre-even-for-an-FCS-team Eastern Washington) absolutely abused him in the first game of the season, and it never got much better.