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Four Tide players named AFCA All-Americans


Published: Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 12:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 12:08 p.m.

The first All-American team of the 2008 season was announced Thursday morning, with the University of Alabama having four players honored by the American Football Coaches Association.

The offensive line featured both Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell, Terrence Cody was named on the defensive line, and Rashad Johnson in the secondary.

Here’s the release:

WACO, TEX. — Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell and Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes headline the 2008 AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team announced today by the American Football Coaches Association.

The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions. What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best — the coaches themselves.

THE OFFENSE

The triggerman for one of college football’s most prolific offenses, Graham Harrell, is joined in the backfield by runningbacks Shonn Greene of Iowa and Knowshon Moreno of Georgia.

Harrell threw for 4,747 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Red Raiders as they ended the regular season with a school-best 11-1 record in 2008. His career passing yards total stands at 15,429.

Greene ended the regular season with 1,729 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns for the Hawkeyes. He averaged 144.1 yards per game, the second-best per game average in the FBS. Moreno averaged nearly six yards per carry en route to a 1,338-yard rushing season. He averaged 111.5 yards per game for the Bulldogs.

Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree is one of four sophomores to earn AFCA All-America honors in the Football Bowl Subdivision this year and is one of three returnees from last year’s squad. Crabtree caught 93 passes for 1,135 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.

Crabtree is joined in the receiving corps by fellow Big 12 players Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State and tight end Chase Coffman of Missouri.

Bryant is currently the nation’s No. 3 receiver, averaging 109.4 yards per game for the Cowboys. Coffman has been one of the primary offensive weapons for the defending Big 12 North champion Tigers. He has caught 79 passes for 872 yards and nine touchdowns this year.

The offensive line features Alabama’s Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell, Texas Tech’s Brandon Carter, Mississippi’s Mike Oher and Oregon State’s Andy Levitre.

Smith and Caldwell anchor a Crimson Tide offensive line that has helped No. 1 Alabama average 370.8 yards per game. Carter is the key blocker for a Red Raider offense that has allowed only 11 sacks in 604 passing attempts this season. Oher was the senior leader of a Rebel offensive front that help put Ole Miss in position for a New Year’s Day bowl berth. Levitre is the key pass blocker for a Beaver offense that is averaging 418.2 yards per game.

THE DEFENSE

The linebacking corps features Brandon Spikes of Florida, James Laurinaitis of Ohio State, and Rey Maualuga of USC.

Spikes is a key member of the SEC Eastern Division champion Gators’ defense and leads the team with 80 tackles to go with four interceptions and 8.0 tackles for loss. Laurinaitis, a returnee from the 2007 Coaches’ All-America Team, posted 121 stops for the Buckeyes this season. Maualuga is the heart and soul of a Trojan defense this year as he leads the Men of Troy with 68 total tackles.

South Florida’s George Selvie headlines the defensive line for the second year in a row. He is joined by Texas’ Brian Orakpo, Alabama’s Terrence Cody and Georgia Tech’s Michael Johnson.

Selvie is one of the most-feared defenders in college football and has recorded 11 sacks and five tackles for loss through 11 games in 2008. Orakpo posted 18 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks this season. Cody has recorded 20 tackles this season. Johnson has 15 tackles for loss for the Yellowjackets.

The defensive backs named to this year’s AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team are Eric Berry of Tennessee, Rashad Johnson of Alabama, Malcolm Jenkins of Ohio State and Alphonso Smith of Wake Forest.

Just a sophomore, Berry leads the nation with seven interceptions and returned two for touchdowns for the Volunteers. Johnson anchors the top-ranked Crimson Tide’s secondary, recording five interceptions and 73 tackles. Jenkins headlines an Ohio State secondary that limited opponents to 164.3 yards passing this season. Smith posted 13 pass break-ups and six interceptions for the Demon Deacons.

THE SPECIALISTS

The specialists on this year’s AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team are all-purpose player Percy Harvin of Florida, punter Kevin Huber of Cincinnati and placekicker Louie Sakoda of Utah.

The versatile Harvin is averaging 103.0 all-purpose yards per game for the Gators and has scored 16 touchdowns in 2008. Huber averaged 44.5 yards per punt on 52 attempts for the Bearcats and dropped 18 punts inside the 20 and had 16 punts of 50 yards or more. Sakoda converted on 52 of 53 PATs and 21 of 23 field goal attempts for the Utes to lead the team in scoring with 115 points.

2008 AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team

Offense

Pos Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)

WR Michael Crabtree* 6-3 208 So. Texas Tech Mike Leach Dallas, Texas (Carter)

WR Dez Bryant 6-2 215 So. Oklahoma St. Mike Gundy Lufkin, Texas (Lufkin)

TE Chase Coffman 6-6 255 Sr. Missouri Gary Pinkel Peculiar, Mo. (Raymore-Peculiar)

OL Andre Smith 6-4 330 Jr. Alabama Nick Saban Birmingham, Ala. (Huffman)

OL Brandon Carter 6-7 350 Jr. Texas Tech Mike Leach Longview, Texas (Spring Hill)

C Antoine Caldwell 6-3 305 Sr. Alabama Nick Saban Montgomery, Ala. (Lee)

OL Michael Oher 6-5 318 Sr. Mississippi Houston Nutt Memphis, Tenn. (Briarcrest Christian)

OL Andy Levitre 6-3 317 Sr. Oregon St. Mike Riley Ben Lomond, Calif. (San Lorenzo Valley)

QB Graham Harrell 6-3 205 Sr. Texas Tech Mike Leach Ennis, Texas (Ennis)

RB Knowshon Moreno 5-11 208 So. Georgia Mark Richt Belford, N.J. (Middletown South)

RB Shonn Greene 5-11 235 Jr. Iowa Kirk Ferentz Sicklerville, N.J. (Milford Acad. [Conn.])

Defense

Pos Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)

DL Brian Orakpo 6-4 260 Sr. Texas Mack Brown Houston, Texas (Lamar)

DL Terrence Cody 6-5 365 Jr. Alabama Nick Saban Fort Myers, Fla. (Riverdale)

DL George Selvie* 6-4 242 Jr. South Florida Jim Leavitt Pensacola, Fla. (Pine Forest)

DL Michael Johnson 6-7 260 Sr. Georgia Tech Paul Johnson Selma, Ala. (Dallas County)

LB James Laurinaitis* 6-3 240 Sr. Ohio St. Jim Tressel Hamel, Minn. (Wayzata)

LB Rey Maualuga 6-2 260 Sr. USC Pete Carroll Eureka, Calif. (Eureka)

LB Brandon Spikes 6-3 245 Jr. Florida Urban Meyer Shelby, N.C. (Crest)

DB Eric Berry 5-11 195 So. Tennessee Phil Fulmer Fairburn, Ga. (Creekside)

DB Rashad Johnson 6-0 186 Sr. Alabama Nick Saban Sulligent, Ala. (Sulligent)

DB Malcolm Jenkins 6-1 202 Sr. Ohio St. Jim Tressel Piscataway, N.J. (Piscataway)

DB Alphonso Smith 5-9 190 Sr. Wake Forest Jim Grobe Pahokee, Fla. (Pahokee)

Specialists

Pos Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Coach Hometown (High School)

P Kevin Huber 6-1 220 Sr. Cincinnati Brian Kelly Cincinnati, Ohio (McNicholas)

PK Louie Sakoda 5-9 178 Sr. Utah Kyle Whittingham San Jose, Calif. (Branham)

AP Percy Harvin 5-11 195 Jr. Florida Urban Meyer Virginia Beach, Va. (Landstown)

*-2007 All-American

Team Background

The AFCA has selected an All-America team every year since 1945.

The five teams now chosen for each AFCA division evolved from a single 11-player squad in 1945. From 1945 until 1967, only one team was chosen. From 1967 through 1971, two teams, University Division and College Division, were selected. In 1972, the College Division was split into College I and College II. In 1979, the University Division was split into two teams — Division I-A and Division I-AA. In 1996 the College I and College II teams were renamed Division II and Division III respectively. The AFCA has selected an NAIA All-America Team since 2006.

From 1965-81, a 22-player (11 offensive, 11 defensive) team was chosen. In 1982, a punter and placekicker were added to the team. In 1997 a return specialist was added, giving us the current 25-player team.

The return specialist position has been replaced by an all-purpose player in 2006.

Selection Process

The AFCA’s Football Bowl Subdivision All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA’s nine FBS districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee.

The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts, that information, along with ballots submitted by FBS head coaches, are used to select the AFCA FBS Coaches’ All-America Team.

Top Team: Oklahoma has had the most players named to the AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team. The Sooners have been represented 59 times by 51 players on the AFCA team. They are followed by Ohio State (56/42); Notre Dame (55/48); Michigan (54/48); Southern California (54/47); Nebraska (48/43) and Texas (42/36).

Top Conference: The Big 12 boasts the most AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team representatives among current conference members with 244, just ahead of the Big Ten at 239 representatives. Following those two are the Southeastern Conference (224), the Pac-10 (168), Atlantic Coast (159), Big East (65), Western Athletic (60), Conference USA (50), Mountain West (50), Sun Belt (40) and Mid-American (29) (Totals include school All-America selections in all divisions).

The 2008 conference-by-conference breakdown: SEC: 9; Big 12: 6; Big Ten: 3; Pac-10: 2; ACC: 2; Big East: 2; MWC: 1.

Class Distinction: The 2008 AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team is made up of 14 seniors, 7 juniors and 4 sophomores.

Repeat After Me: Ohio State has the most players who have been repeat selections (13 players). The Buckeyes are followed by Oklahoma (9); Notre Dame (7); Southern California (7); Texas (6); Michigan (6); Arkansas (5) and Nebraska (5).

Four For Four: No player has earned AFCA FBS All-America honors four times, however Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) runningback Johnny Bailey did earn Coaches’ All-America honors four straight years (1986-87-88-89) in AFCA College Division I (now AFCA Division II).

Three-Timer: Georgia’s Herschel Walker is the only three-time AFCA FBS Coaches’ All-American (1980-81-82) in the 62-year history of the team. Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree can equal that feat should he return for his junior year in 2009.

Two-Timers: A total of 128 players have earned AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team honors two or more times.

Double Duos: Teammates have now earned back-to-back Coaches’ All-America honors in the same seasons seven times. USC’s Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush (2004 and 2005) join Army’s Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard (1945 and 1946); Notre Dame’s George Connor and Johnny Lujack (1946 and 1947); Michigan State’s Bubba Smith and George Webster (1966 and 1967); Ohio State’s Jack Tatum and Jim Stillwagon (1969 and 1970); Notre Dame’s Ken MacAfee and Ross Browner (1976 and 1977) and Colorado’s Joe Garten and Alfred Williams (1989 and 1990).

One Player, Two Schools: Punter Mark Bounds is the only player to earn Coaches’ All-America honors at two different schools. He was named to the AFCA College Division I team in 1990 while playing for West Texas A&M. He transferred to Texas Tech after West Texas dropped football and earned I-A All-America honors as a Red Raider in 1991.

Consecutive Years: Notre Dame holds the record for consecutive years with at least one player on the AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team at 19 seasons (1963-1981). Nebraska had at least one player 12 straight seasons (1977-1989). Michigan (1969-1979), Oklahoma (1971-1981), Southern California (1972-82) and Miami (1984-1994) are next with 11 straight seasons. Pittsburgh placed one player on the AFCA team for 10 straight seasons from 1975-1984.

Super Six: Oklahoma’s six selections (Jammal Brown, OL; Jason White, QB; Tommie Harris, DL; Teddy Lehman, LB, Derrick Strait, DB; Antonio Perkins, RS) in 2003 are the most players from one school on the AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team.

Quad Squads: Alabama became the seventh team to place four players on the AFCA All-America Team this year. The others are: 1945 Army: T-DeWitt Coulter, G-John Green, B-Glenn Davis, B-Doc Blanchard; 1966 Notre Dame: LB-Jim Lynch, FB-Nick Eddy, DT-Pete Duranko, OG-Tom Regner; 1967 Southern California: OT-Ron Yary, LB-Adrian Young, E-Tim Rossovich, HB-O.J. Simpson; 1990 Notre Dame: DB-Todd Lyght, DL-Chris Zorich, LB-Mike Stonebreaker, WR-Raghib Ismail; 1999 Florida State: WR-Peter Warrick, OL-Jason Whitaker, DL-Corey Simon; PK-Sebastian Janikowski; 2005 USC: WR- Dwayne Jarrett, OL- Taitusi Lutui, QB- Matt Leinart, RB- Reggie Bush.

Army’s four All-Americans in 1945 may be the most impressive showing of the above teams when you take into account the AFCA only selected an 11-player team at that time.


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