Good enough to make the all-star teams, but not old enough to duck out to the next level quite yet, the sophomores are going to be the leaders and main stars of next year. We honor the top second year players, including Illinois hard-hitting CB Vontae Davis, in the Fourth Annual CollegeFootballNews.com All-Sophomore team.
Offensive Sophomore of the Year: QB Tim Tebow, Florida
Defensive Sophomore of the Year: DE George Selvie, South Florida
First Team Offense QB Tim Tebow,
Florida – The front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, Tebow has had a
historically prolific season in his first year as a full-timer, throwing
29 touchdown passes and rushing for 22 more. Beyond the gaudy numbers
and statistical superlatives, he’s quickly evolved into the
inspirational leader of the program, playing through pain and
consistently coming up big in the clutch.
RB Chris Wells, Ohio State – With the Big Ten title hanging in
the balance, Wells gutted the Michigan defense on Nov. 17 for 222 yards
and two scores, one of the best days ever for a back not named
Biakabatuka in the storied rivalry.
It was the capper of a breakthrough season for the future first-round
NFL draft choice, who’s run for 1,463 yards and 14 touchdowns with a
tantalizing blend of power and burst.
RB Eugene Jarvis, Kent State – The MAC’s newest version of
Garrett Wolfe, Jarvis is a titanic weapon for the Flashes, despite being
just 5-5 and 170. Relying on his explosiveness to the hole and shifty
moves in the open field, he ran for a league-high 1,669 yards and 10
touchdowns, adding 23 catches for 306 yards and three scores.
WR Percy Harvin, Florida – Although he was slowed at times by
injuries, Harvin proved to be one of the SEC’s most dangerous weapons
whenever he was running at full strength. The most versatile cog in the
Gator offensive machine, he caught 50 passes for 781 yards and three
touchdowns, adding 599 yards and five more scores on the ground in a
variety of different ways, including inside handoffs and reverses.
WR Kenny Britt, Rutgers – Britt became just the third receiver in
the 138-year history of Scarlet Knight football to go over 1,000 yards
receiving in a season, catching 56 passes for 1,107 yards and seven
touchdowns. A super-sized target with a long stride, he averaged just
under 20 yards a reception, tops in the Big East.
Gresham, Oklahoma – The lone semifinalist for the Mackey Award,
Gresham is a phenomenal talent that’s too big and too fast for most
defenders to cover. At 6-5 and 260 pounds, he can sky above opposing
players or use his long stride to split the seam and bust open a huge
play. Gresham erupted in his first significant action for 34
receptions, 11 of which wound up in the end zone, tops among tight ends.
OT Andre Smith, Alabama – Inconsistency on the Tide line in 2007
had nothing to do with Smith, a rock on the left side who’s already
auditioning for scouts that are eager to get him to the NFL. An ox at
6-5 and 340 pounds, he gets to the second level so fast, it almost
defies the laws of physics for a man of that size.
OG Greg Isdaner, West Virginia – Now a fixture on the left side
of the Mountaineer front wall, Isdaner is about to complete his second
full season as a starter. A big, physical guard with good smarts, he’s
an integral part of a unit that’s helped pave the way for the nation’s
fourth-ranked rushing attack.
C Josh McNeil, Tennessee – The quarterback of a Volunteer
offensive line that’s yielded just four sacks all season, McNeil has
begun showing why he was one of the nation’s highest-rated centers
coming out of high school two years ago. Aggressive and smart, he has
all the tools to contend for the Rimington Award once he eliminates a
few bad habits.
OG Sergio Render, Virginia Tech – A huge talent that’s had his
ups and downs over the last couple of seasons, Render was one of the
catalysts of a Hokie line that played its best ball over the second half
of the season. Physically imposing at the point of attack, he’s capable
of mauling his man, opening holes for the Virginia Tech runners.
OT Ciron Black, LSU – A massive presence at 6-5 and 320 pounds,
Black is equally adept at run blocking as he is at protecting the
passer. A real mauler at the point of attack, he’s got the potential to
be one of the best linemen in the nation once he improves his footwork
and overall consistency.
DE George Selvie, South Florida – A finalist for the Hendricks
Award given to the nation’s top defensive end, Selvie leads the country
with 31.5 tackles for loss, just one shy of the NCAA record. Quick off
the snap and relentless in backside pursuit, he also has 14.5 sacks,
second to only Indiana’s Greg Middleton in the country.
DT Geno Atkins, Georgia – Throughout the Dawgs’ blazing second
half, Atkins was to the defense what RB Knowshon Moreno was to the
offense. Playing with a renewed focus and dedication, he’s tormented
opposing linemen for 38 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and
29 quarterback hurries, huge numbers for an interior lineman.
DT DeMarcus Granger, Oklahoma – A second-team All-Big 12
selection, Granger has begun exhibiting some of the traits and potential
that made him one of the nation’s most coveted interior linemen two
years ago. A 6-2, 310-pound pile-mover, he has 35 tackles, 8.5 tackles
for loss, and 3.5 sacks, numbers that don’t do justice to his importance
to the nation’s eighth-ranked run defense.
DE Greg Middleton, Indiana – Few sophomores in America made more
of a quantum leap from his first season than Middleton, who has erupted
for a nation’s best and school-record 16 sacks. He chose to attend
Indiana, in part, because it was one of the only schools that didn’t
want to slide him inside, a move that’s working out rather well for the
LB Brandon Spikes, Florida – Instinctive well beyond his years,
Spikes solidified himself as one the best up-and-comers at the position
by racking up 118 tackles and 14 tackles for loss, while breaking up
seven passes. After just one season as a starter, he’s got all the
tools to be the nation’s best middle linebacker as soon as next season.
LB Clinton Snyder, Stanford – Snyder started to reach his
potential this fall. He’ll spend the next two seasons exceeding it as
the cornerstone of defensive coordinator Scott Shafer’s unit. A
disruptive and ferocious presence from the strongside, Snyder’s
second-year resume included 96 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, eight
sacks, three fumble recoveries and a team-high four forced fumbles.
LB Rico McCoy, Tennessee – The Volunteers’ second-leading tackler
with 106 stops and 4.5 for loss plays a little faster and a whole lot
more intense than most of his opponents. A high motor guy with
outstanding lateral quickness from the weakside, he’s also one of
Tennessee’s most dependable linebackers in pass coverage.
CB Vontae Davis, Illinois – A rising star among the nation’s
cover corners, Davis earned a spot on the All-Big Ten first team in just
his second season on campus. Blessed with safety size and the
athleticism to neutralize the other team’s top receiver, he’s collected
62 tackles to go along with four interceptions and eight pass breakups.
S Emanuel Cook, South Carolina – Cook’s numbers didn’t tell the
entire story about a safety that intimidates opposing receivers with his
bone-jarring hits. Despite missing the opener with appendicitis and
some time in November with a foot injury, he led the Gamecocks with 92
tackles, adding eight tackles for loss, four sacks, three interceptions,
and five passes broken up.
S Shane Carter, Wisconsin – Carter has been the right man in the
right spot a lot this season, picking off a Big Ten-high seven passes to
go along with 51 tackles. Although he still needs to hone his reads and
cover skills, he’ll remain a valuable member of the Badger defense as
long as he continues flashing crisp ball skills.
CB Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina – Before being lost for the season with a foot injury in November,
Munnerlyn was blanketing SEC receivers as well as any cornerback in the
league. While only 5-9, he often wins the one-on-one battles with a
physical demeanor at the line of scrimmage, blazing speed, and a 34-inch
K Leigh Tiffin, Alabama – Tiffin shook off a slow start,
connecting on his final 16-of-19 field goal attempts and ranking behind
only LSU’s Colt David in the SEC with 22 three-pointers made. He also
displayed good leg strength, joining his father, Van, as the only
kickers in ‘Bama history to nail two 50-yard field goals in the same
P Jeremy Boone, Penn State – Second in the Big Ten at 42.2 yards
per punt, Boone has done a marvelous job in his debut as Jeremy Kapinos’
successor. The key component of a special teams unit that’s No. 6
nationally in net punting, the walk-on with the good hang time was
rewarded with a spot on the all-league first team.