With the beginning of bowl season on the horizon, here is a look at Outside the Redzone’s first ever College Football All-American team:
Robert Griffin III – Quarterback, Baylor
Junior quarterback Robert Griffin III became the first ever Baylor Bear to hoist the Heisman Trophy last weekend. Griffin led the NCAA in passing efficiency while passing for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Griffin also added 644 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. The Bears finished the regular season 9-3 and will have a chance for their first 10-win season since 1980. Baylor will also make a second straight bowl appearance for the first time since 1991 and 1992.
Montee Ball – Running Back, Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s junior running back Montee Ball led the entire country in rushing with 1,759 yards and 38 total touchdowns. Ball’s late touchdown in the first ever Big Ten Championship turned out to be the difference as the Badgers defeated Michigan State for a second straight conference title. Ball’s 38 total touchdowns is just one shy of Barry Sanders’ single-season record of 39. Ball will have the chance to top Sanders as Wisconsin faces Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
Trent Richardson – Running Back, Alabama
In Richardson’s first year as the starter at running back, the junior rushed for nearly 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns. Richardson also finished the regular season with 327 yards receiving and three more scores. In what could have been his final career game against arch-rival Auburn, Richardson rushed for a career-best 203 yards as the Tide rolled the Tigers 42-14.
Justin Blackmon – Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
After catching 111 passes in 2010, Oklahoma State’s junior wide receiver Justin Blackmon outdid himself in 2011 with 113 receptions. Blackmon finished with 1,336 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns as the Cowboys put together their first ever Big XII championship since the conference came to be in 1996. Blackmon had at least six receptions in every game and scored touchdowns in 10 of Oklahoma State’s 12 games.
Patrick Edwards – Wide Receiver, Houston
While quarterback Case Keenum was breaking NCAA career records, senior Patrick Edwards was on the receiving end of many of those throws. During Houston’s 12-1 season, Edwards caught 79 passes for 1,524 yards and 18 touchdowns. In the final regular season game against Tulsa, with a trip to the Conference USA Championship on the line, Edwards hauled in eight passes for 181 yards and four touchdowns in Houston’s 48-16 rout of the Golden Hurricane.
Dwayne Allen – Tight End, Clemson
Junior Dwayne Allen helped lead the Clemson Tigers to their first ACC championship in more than 20 years. During Clemson’s 10-3 season, Allen caught 48 passes for 577 yards and eight touchdowns. In the ACC Championship against Virginia Tech, Allen’s only two receptions went for touchdowns as the Tigers routed the fifth-ranked Hokies 38-10.
Matt Kalil – Tackle, USC
USC’s Matt Kalil had the very important task of protecting quarterback Matt Barkley’s blind side, which he had little trouble doing. Kalil helped a USC offense that ranked in the top 25 in the country in total offense and in the top 20 in passing. Kalil and all of the offensive firepower allowed the Trojans to put together a 10-2 season and their 38-35 victory over #4 Oregon in November may have signified USC football’s return to prominence.
Barrett Jones – Guard, Alabama
Barrett Jones played both guard and tackle for an Alabama team that is headed to a BCS game for the third time in four years. Jones helped buy time for first year starting quarterback A.J. McCarron and provide holes for potent running backs Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. The junior will have his work cut out for him as the Crimson Tide get a rematch with #1 LSU for the BCS National Championship.
David Molk – Center, Michigan
Michigan senior center David Molk anchored a Michigan offense that finished 12th in the country in rushing and second in the Big Ten. Molk gave stability to a Michigan senior class whose four years in Ann Arbor were anything, but stable. The Wolverines won 10 football games for the first time since 2006 and defeated the hated Ohio State Buckeyes for the first time since 2003.
David DeCastro – Guard, Stanford
While quarterback Andrew Luck receives most of the credit, David DeCastro was a force for a Stanford team that averaged over 480 yards-per-game and finished in the top 25 in rushing. After a run of six straight losing seasons, the Cardinal have put together three consecutive winning seasons and are headed to a BCS game for a second straight year.
Levy Adcock – Tackle, Oklahoma State
Senior Levy Adcock was a stellar pass protector and a solid run blocker for an Oklahoma State team that was fourth in the nation in total offense. Adcock, at 6’6″ and 322 pounds is as imposing as they come along the offensive front. With an 11-1 season and the school’s first Big XII championship, Oklahoma State is headed to the Fiesta Bowl to take on a Stanford team that like the Cowboys, has little trouble scoring points.
Whitney Mercilus – Defensive End, Illinois
In a run-happy Big Ten Conference, Illinois junior Whiteny Mercilus still managed to lead the country in sacks with a whopping 14.5. The junior also accounted for 52 total tackles with half of them coming solo.
Devon Still – Defensive Tackle, Penn State
The 6’5″, 310 pound senior Devon Still anchored a Penn State defense that was the fifth toughest in the country to score against. During Penn State’s 9-3 turmoil ridden year, Still managed to total 4.5 sacks and 49 total tackles with 14 coming for a loss. Still will play his final game as a Nittany Lion on January 2nd in the TicketCity Bowl against Houston.
Aaron Donald – Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh
Despite playing on the interior of the defensive line rather than on the edge, Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald still finished 8th in the country when it came to sacking the quarterback. Donald notched 10 sacks to go along with 42 total tackles.
Melvin Ingram – Defensive End, South Carolina
Whenever there was a play to be made, South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram always seemed to make it. Ingram, a senior, not only collected 8.5 sacks and two interceptions, but also found the end zone three times. South Carolina finished the regular season 10-2 giving the Gamecocks their first 10-win season since 1984.
Manti Te’o – Linebacker, Notre Dame
Junior linebacker Manti Te’o had a monster season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Te’o recorded 106 tackles to go along with 4.5 sacks. Te’o recorded double-digits in tackles in six of Notre Dame’s 12 games which included a season-high 13 against Navy back in late October.
Luke Kuechly – Linebacker, Boston College
Boston College junior linebacker Luke Kuechly answered his 2010 campaign in which he finished with 183 tackles with 191 in 2011. Kuechly finished with more than 15 tackles in seven of Boston College’s 12 games. In addition to all the tackles, Kuechly also intercepted three passes; the last of which, was returned 45 yards for a touchdown in Boston College’s final game, a 24-17 victory over Miami.
Jarvis Jones – Linebacker, Georgia
Sophomore linebacker Jarvis Jones led the SEC with 13.5 sacks which was also second in the nation. After an 0-2 start, Georgia won 10 straight games to advance to the SEC Championship for the first time since 2005. In addition to the 13.5 sacks, Jones recorded 69 tackles and a forced fumble.
Morris Claiborne – Defensive Back, LSU
While the other LSU cornerback got the trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, Morris Claiborne was around the football all season long. Claiborne led the Tigers with six interceptions on the season. In the SEC Championship game against Georgia, Claiborne intercepted an Aaron Murray pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown as LSU defeated Georgia 42-10 to win its first SEC title since 2007.
David Amerson – Defensive Back, NC State
North Carolina State sophomore David Amerson led the nation with 11 interceptions in 2011. Amerson intercepted a pass in eight of NC State’s 12 games and had three games with multiple interceptions. Against Virginia, Amerson recorded his only interception return for a touchdown on the season. His 11 interceptions was four better than any other player in the entire country.
Bacarri Rambo – Defensive Back, Georgia
Georgia junior safety Bacarri Rambo led the SEC with seven interceptions while recording 53 tackles. Rambo did not play in Georgia’s season-opening loss to Boise State, but in his first three games of 2011, Rambo recorded four interceptions. Rambo not only intercepted seven passes, but averaged 21 yards-per-return after making the pick. His only touchdown came in a November game against Auburn.
Tyrann Mathieu – Defensive Back, LSU
Perhaps better known as the Honey Badger, LSU’s sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu wreaked havoc on opposing offenses all season long. Mathieu recorded just two interceptions, but accounted for 1.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns. In addition to the defensive scores, Mathieu returned punts for touchdowns in the final two games of the year. His 62-yard return for a touchdown in the SEC Championship helped LSU erase a 10-0 deficit en route to a 42-10 romp.
Randy Bullock – Kicker, Texas A&M
Texas A&M’s senior kicker Randy Bullock led the nation with 25 made field goals in 2011. Bullock was 25-for-29 on the year and was 11-of-14 from beyond 40 yards. Bullock’s season-long was 52 yards and he had at least one made field goal in every game.
Shawn Powell – Punter, Florida State
Florida State senior punter Shawn Powell led the country with an average of 47 yards-per-punt. Powell averaged better than 40 yards-per-punt in every game this season for the Seminoles and boomed a career-long 69 yarder in a loss to Oklahoma back in September.
Jamal Miles – Kick Returner, Arizona State
Arizona State’s Jamal Miles was a danger in the return game for the Sun Devils in 2011. Miles averaged just better than 25 yards-per-return on kickoffs this season with two going for touchdowns. On 23 punt returns, Miles averaged better than 10 yards-per-return including a 78 yard return for a touchdown against Oregon State.
Les Miles – Head Coach, LSU
Through 13 games, LSU head coach Les Miles has his Tigers as the only unbeaten team in the entire country. Miles came under some scrutiny after mediocre seasons in 2008 and 2009, but Miles this season, has already led LSU to a second SEC championship in five years. Miles’ Tigers need only to beat Alabama to give LSU the school’s third National Championship in nine years.