With the season upon us, it’s time for me to reveal the the 2012 edition of the very prestigious HP preseason All-American team.
First, the offense:
1st team: Matt Barkley, USC
2nd team: Denard Robinson, Michigan
3rd team: Geno Smith, WVU
Honorable Mention: Tyler Wilson, Arkansas; Landry Jones, Oklahoma; Collin Klein, Kansas State; Tyler Bray, Tennessee; Aaron Murray, Georgia; Kain Colter, Northwestern; EJ Manuel, Florida State
Comments: Another year, another stocked batch of quarterbacks. Barkley, the prohibitive Heisman favorite, leads the 2012 list with the help of the best receiving corps in college football. Robinson returns as a third year starter and his second in Brady Hoke’s system. He has the opportunity to shine early in a marquee matchup in week one against Alabama. Smith begins his senior season in a new conference but should still put up otherworldly statistics.
1st team: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
2nd team: Knile Davis, Arkansas
3rd team: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Honorable Mention: Kenjon Barner, Oregon; Ray Graham, Pitt; John White IV, Utah; Stepfan Taylor, Stanford; Andre Ellington, Clemson; Rex Burkhead Nebraska
Comments: Ball was the best running back in the nation in 2011 and maintains the title in 2012. He comes into this season needing only 18 touchdowns to break the NCAA career touchdown record. Davis and Lattimore are both returning from season-ending injuries but are the focal points or their respective offenses, so both are due for bounce-back seasons.
1st team: Ryan Hewitt, Stanford
2nd team: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
3rd team: Braden Wilson, Kansas State
Comments: We like to pick an All-American fullback here at HP since it is a position on offense in football. Did we just pick a fullback that had 10 carries for 35 yards the whole of 2011? Yes, because he is the most versatile and talented player at the position. Hewitt was Stanford’s third leading receiver last season with 282 yards and one of the most reliable blockers in the backfield.
1st team: Robert Woods,USC; Sammy Watkins, Clemson
2nd team: Marqise Lee, USC; Tavon Austin, WVU
3rd team: Keenan Allen, Cal; Marquess Wilson, Washington State
Honorable Mention: Terrance Williams, Baylor; Kenny Stills, Oklahoma; Connor Vernon, Duke; Stedman Bailey, WVU; Roy Roundtree, Michigan; Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas
Comments: Woods racked up 111 catches and over 1,000 yards last season on what turned out to be an injured ankle but he should be 100% in 2011. Watkins was a freshman phenom and he still makes this list despite a two-game suspension to open the season. The Pac-12 overall is loaded with pass catchers, so look for Wilson, Lee, and Allen to challenge Woods for the title of best receiver.
1st team: Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
2nd team: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
3rd team: Chris Gragg, Arkansas
Honorable Mention: Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State; Phillip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn; Ryan Griffin Connecticut
Comments: At 6-6, 250 pounds, Eifert looks to be the college football equivalent of Rob Gronkowski. Eifert is on the cusp of two major tight end records at Notre Dame (receiving yards and receptions). Seferian-Jenkins is a physical freak who should have a breakout season.
Offensive Line Unit
1st team: Alabama
2nd team: Oregon
3rd team: USC
Honorable Mention: Tennessee, Texas A&M, LSU
Per HP tradition, we will not choose individual All-Americans on the offensive line.
We refuse to do so because we believe it’s basically impossible to pick the five best offensive linemen.
There are no individual stats to go by. Highlights rarely show what they do. We don’t know their assignments on a given play. We could go purely off of hearsay, but wouldn’t that be dishonest? What’s more, there are 600 starting offensive linemen in Division One. It’s almost impossible to have seen enough of them to know who is really the best. So, while other All-American teams choose linemen based almost solely on reputation, we will not. Instead, we look at a combination of factors, including sacks allowed, rushing offense, tackles for loss allowed, etc., to come up with our All-American unit.
We’ll have the defensive All-Americans tomorrow…stay tuned.