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Lamar Jackson leads star-studded ESPN All-America team

Lamar Jackson leads star-studded ESPN All-America team

Dec 12, 2016

  • ESPN.com

There’s almost no way to deal with the offensive talent assembled on this year’s ESPN All-America team. Imagine devising a game plan against Louisville’s Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, who could either hand off to D’Onta Foreman or Dalvin Cook, or throw to three elite wide receivers.

But if any defensive depth chart could bottle up that offense, it’d be the roster assembled here. Think about scheming to block Jonathan Allen, Derek Barnett and Ed Oliver.

Here’s what both stacked rosters look like.

Offense

QB: Lamar Jackson, Louisville

A quick recap of Jackson’s Heisman Trophy-winning season: ACC record for touchdowns, nearly 5,000 total yards, eight games with at least 400 yards and one of the most awe-inspiring beatdowns of a college football blue blood (Florida State) in recent history. The list could go on and on, but the essence of Jackson’s spot on this list is simple: No player in college football was more electric in 2016. — David M. Hale

RB: D’Onta Foreman, Texas

Foreman was the third Texas recipient of the Doak Walker Award, and he became the 12th Power 5 back to rush for 2,000 yards — he had 2,028 in 11 games. Foreman finished 10th in FBS history with an average of 184.4 yards per game. Over a 22-day, late-season stretch, the 249-pound junior rushed for 1,008 yards, reaching 250 yards three times in four games. — Mitch Sherman

RB: Dalvin Cook, Florida State

In three years at Florida State, Cook has racked up nearly 5,200 yards and 47 touchdowns. From his field vision to his explosiveness to his willingness to take on defenders between the tackles, few running backs have been as dynamic or productive in ACC history. Cook saved his best for last, totaling more than 2,000 yards this season. — David M. Hale

WR: Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

Westbrook snagged 74 passes for 1,465 yards, becoming the Big 12 offensive player of the year, fourth-place finisher in the Heisman Trophy balloting and Oklahoma’s first Biletnikoff Award winner. He scored 17 touchdowns, including 16 through the air by an average distance of 48.8 yards. His 12 scores of 40 yards or more rank as the most in a season by an FBS player since 1996. — Mitch Sherman

WR: John Ross, Washington

Ross returned from injury to have one of the most prolific seasons in Pac-12 history. He caught 76 passes for 1,222 yards, and his 17 touchdown receptions are one shy of the conference’s single-season record. — Kyle Bonagura

WR: Zay Jones, East Carolina

Jones led the country in receptions with 158, and only 16 other FBS players had even half as many. In the process, he set the FBS career record for receptions and led the nation in receiving yards this season with 1,746. — David M. Hale

OT: Cam Robinson, Alabama

Robinson was awarded the Outland Trophy as the most outstanding offensive lineman in the country. He paved the way for the SEC’s highest-scoring offense and the second-leading rushing offense (245.0 yards per game). — Alex Scarborough

OG: Dorian Johnson, Pitt

Pitt’s offensive line was bursting with talent in 2016, and Johnson was at the top of the heap. He helped open holes that allowed the Panthers to run for 2,757 yards and 35 touchdowns — including an ACC-best 4.3 yards per carry between the tackles. The Panthers’ O-line allowed just nine sacks all season. — David M. Hale

C: Pat Elflein, Ohio State

The Rimington winner and Ohio State captain helped hold together an offense that returned only three starters from last season. His consistency (40 consecutive starts) has been a major part of the Buckeyes finding a way back into the College Football Playoff. — Dan Murphy

OG: Cody O’Connell, Washington State

At 6-foot-8, 354 pounds, O’Connell is appropriately known as “The Continent.” He was an Outland Trophy finalist in his first year as a starter. — Kyle Bonagura

OT: Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin

The former Division III transfer wasted no time in leaving a mark in his first year as a starter for the Badgers. The left tackle anchored a line that helped Wisconsin average more than 200 yards per game on the ground. — Dan Murphy


Defense

DE: Jonathan Allen, Alabama

Allen plays a large role in Alabama’s No. 1-ranked rush defense, and he’s pretty good at disrupting the backfield. The senior leads the team in QB hurries (15), is tied for the team lead in sacks (8.5) and is second in tackles for loss (13). He also has two defensive touchdowns and a blocked kick. — Alex Scarborough

DE: Derek Barnett, Tennessee

In just three seasons, Barnett has tied Reggie White’s record for career sacks (32) at Tennessee. But looking at 2016 alone, Barnett has been a monster with a career-high 12 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and an interception. — Alex Scarborough

DL: Ed Oliver, Houston

Oliver was dominant, with more tackles for loss (19) than any true freshman and more pass breakups (nine) than any defensive lineman, regardless of classification. His best performances came against Houston’s toughest opponents: Oklahoma (two sacks) and Louisville (two sacks, three tackles for loss, three pass breakups, forced fumble). — Sam Khan Jr.

LB: T.J. Watt, Wisconsin

Watt is a former tight end who exploded into a productive force for the Badgers after moving to defense. Where have we heard that story before? The redshirt junior has 14.5 tackles for loss this season while leading one of the nation’s best defensive fronts. — Dan Murphy

LB: Reuben Foster, Alabama

Foster won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker after he led Alabama with 94 tackles, including 12 for loss, and four sacks this season. More importantly, he’s the quarterback of a unit that leads the FBS in total yards allowed, rushing defense, scoring defense and defensive touchdowns. — Alex Scarborough

LB: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

The do-it-all Wolverine reshaped the way Michigan used its linebackers this season with a football mind that is as fast as his first step. He ended the season with 16 tackles for loss and four sacks among his many other accomplishments elsewhere on the field. — Dan Murphy

LB: Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

Sure, he leads the SEC in tackles by nearly 20, but that doesn’t fully encompass the athletic veteran linebacker. He also has 16.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups, four fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and one heck of a blocked kick against Auburn, in which he leaped over the entire offensive line to lay a hand on the ball. — Alex Scarborough

S: Malik Hooker, Ohio State

The chief playmaker on the Buckeyes’ opportunistic defense was the Big Ten’s breakout defensive star this season. He returned three of his six interceptions for touchdowns, more than any other Power 5 player. — Dan Murphy

S: Budda Baker, Washington

A two-time, first-team All-Pac-12 selection, Baker collected 65 tackles, nine tackles for loss and seven pass deflections. He’s versatile enough to play anywhere in the secondary for one of the top defenses in the country. — Kyle Bonagura

CB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

We’re listing him at a corner, but Fitzpatrick’s versatility is what really sets him apart. The true sophomore started the season at corner and had a pick-six against Arkansas. Then, after shifting to safety in relief of Eddie Jackson, Fitzpatrick had a pick-six in the SEC title game against Florida. — Alex Scarborough

CB: Jourdan Lewis, Michigan

Opposing receivers caught only eight passes against the veteran corner this season. Michigan led the nation in fewest passing yards allowed all season, and that stinginess started with Lewis. — Dan Murphy


Special teams

K: Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State

The Lou Groza Award winner connected on 23 of 25 field goal attempts, and he was 7-of-9 from beyond 50 yards. Only seven other kickers in the country made at least two from 50-plus, and no one had more than four. — Kyle Bonagura

P: Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

Wishnowsky took the baton from two-time Ray Guy Award winner Tom Hackett and made it three straight for what is turning into Punter U. Wishnowsky led the nation in net punting (44.9) and downed 37 of 60 punts inside the 20-yard line. — Kyle Bonagura

AP: Adoree’ Jackson, USC

The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and Jim Thorpe Award winner is perhaps most impactful with the ball in his hands. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, two punts for touchdowns and took his lone reception of the season 52 yards for a score. — Kyle Bonagura

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