There are no big names this year.
There is no Tim Tebow, no Sam Bradford, no Ndamukong Suh, no Colt McCoy, not even a Jimmy Clausen.
What there is, however, on the Football Action Preseason All-America team is a collection of outstanding players whose names will certainly be more well-known by the time the 2010 season ends.
QB Kellen Moore, Boise State – No question this was among the more difficult choices in selecting this year’s preseason team. Houston’s Case Keenum is a stud who threw for 2,000 more yards than Moore last year. Despite that, Moore still had 39 touchdown passes (only five less than Keenum) and if you double his attempts and completions to be more in line with Keenum’s numbers, Moore still would have thrown nine interceptions less than his Houston counterpart. Tough choice, but Moore proved last year that he’s a winner. Football Scores
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama – And now, for the encore. For the third consecutive season we’ll see if a Heisman Trophy winner can become only the second repeat winner, after Ohio State’s Archie Griffin. Tim Tebow couldn’t do it, losing to Sam Bradford, who couldn’t do it, losing to Ingram. Still, it’s a safe bet to say that the 2010 Heisman is Ingram’s to lose. In leading Alabama to the national championship, Ingram rushed for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns.
RB Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh – What a fabulous breakout campaign as a freshman for this ultra-talented running back. He began the year completely under the radar, as most freshmen do, but by the end of the regular season Lewis was the nation’s third-leading rusher at 1,640 yards. For that he earned 2009 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Rookie of the Year accolades, and Freshman of the Year honors from Sporting News, CBSSports.com and CollegeFootballNews.com.
WR A.J. Green, Georgia – The junior had a solid sophomore season that resulted in 15.2 yards per catch on 51 receptions, six of which went for touchdowns. He is a gamebreaker—a playmaker, in every sense of the word. So much so, in fact, that at press time there was a raging discussion in Athens over whether to use Green as a punt returner in addition to his wide receiver duties. The eternal question—does the injury risk outweigh the potential that Green is a threat every time he touches the ball? Only head coach Mark Richt can answer that one.
WR James Cleveland, Houston – It’s a symbiotic relationship down in Cougar land, where the receivers look great because of quarterback Case Keenum—but Keenum looks great because of his talented receivers. Cleveland is one of them. A senior this season, he caught 104 balls last year for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns. A transfer from Iowa, Cleveland had offseason shoulder surgery that caused him to miss the spring game. But he should be back running routes well before camp convenes again in the summer.
TE George Bryan, N.C. State – Well, this wasn’t the way they wanted to finish spring ball down in Raleigh. Bryan, an All-ACC performer last year, was cited for “maintaining a dwelling for use of controlled substances” along with teammates Markus Kuhn, J.R. Sweezy and Jake Vermiglio. The citations are just misdemeanors and you can be assured there will be some team disciplinary action. But Bryan will be on the field in 2010, and N.C. State needs his nifty combination of blocking and receiving (40 receptions, 10.6 yards per catch, six touchdowns last season).
OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin – No. 68 is just plain ol’ massive and powerful. At 6-7, 315 pounds, Carimi is the prototypical left tackle, so much so that he’s already being talked about for the 2011 NFL draft. Carimi has started 36 consecutive games at left tackle, and is on the Lombardi Watch List. He was a huge—pardon the pun—reason why the Badgers racked up 417 yards of total offense per game, and a big reason why Wisconsin quarterbacks were sacked only 23 times in 2009.
G Mike Pouncey, Florida – Interesting scenario developing at Florida with Pouncey, whose twin brother, Maurkice, left early for the NFL and went in the first round to the Steelers. Mike is planning on moving over to the center spot to replace his brother, but we’re keeping him here at guard until we see how that experiment goes. His talent is at guard and, in all likelihood, he will be drafted there next year. Said interim head coach Steve Addazio, who is also Florida’s offensive coordinator, “I think Mike is the best offensive lineman in the country.”
C Jake Kirkpatrick, TCU – One of six finalists for the Rimington Trophy, recognizing the best center in the country, Kirkpatrick set the blocking scheme on every play. He anchored a line that paved the way for the Horned Frogs to rank fifth in the country in scoring (38.3 points per game) and rushing (239.5 yards per game), while placing seventh in total offense (456.7 yards per game). Kirkpatrick was a big reason why TCU ranked sixth nationally in fewest sacks allowed per game (0.92) and set single-season school records for points scored (498) and total offense (5,937 yards). Baseball Scores
G Rodney Hudson, Florida State – NFL scouts say he has terrific technique but needs to work more on his aggressiveness. He started practicing that against his own teammates, as Hudson earned the “Hinesman Award,” given annually to the most dominant player in the spring game. Last season, Hudson, a 6-2, 283-pounder, won the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given annually to the league’s best blocker and voted on by the ACC’s head coaches and defensive coordinators.
OT Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh – Pinkston, who is entering his third season at Pitt, was selected first-team All-Big East and earned second-team All-America accolades as a junior. At 6-4, 305, Pinkston is surprisingly quick and agile. He was a big reason why Pittsburgh had the best overall offensive line in the Big East, as evidenced by Dion Lewis leading the conference in rushing, while also allowing just 15 sacks, tied for best in the league with Cincinnati.
PK Kai Forbath, UCLA – Missouri’s Grant Ressel was just about automatic last year, hitting all but one of his 27 field goals for a .963 percentage. But he didn’t attempt a single kick of more than 50 yards, while Forbath’s only three misses—28-for-31 overall—were all from 50 yards or better, where he was 3-for-6 overall. As far as the Bruins are concerned, Forbath is just as automatic as Ressel and probably even more of a threat due to his success with the “long ball.”
KR Chris Owusu, Stanford – One of the most impactful, yet rarely talked about, positions. The kick returner has the ability to change a game in a matter of moments, and Owusu was one of those players, averaging a nation-best 31.5 yards per return and bringing three kickoffs to the house for touchdowns. After delivering a 91-yard kickoff return for a score to open the Washington game, the Huskies simply stopped kicking to Owusu. Now that’s changing a game.
DE Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh – Romeus, Romeus, wherefore art thou? Most likely, in the opposing team’s backfield. The senior had 43 tackles last year, including 11.5 for loss (eight of which were sacks). The Big East’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year is one of the candidates for the Lott Trophy, one of the few season-ending awards that not only takes into account athletic prowess, but personal character and achievement.
DT Jared Crick, Nebraska – Crick was constantly double-teamed by opponents, and that was with Ndamukong Suh, the second-overall draft pick, playing just a few feet away from him on the same line. He still ended up with 73 tackles, including 15 for loss and an amazing 9.5 that went for a sack. His ability to get into the backfield is uncanny.
DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State – Paea is a 6-1, 311-pound senior from Los Altos, CA, who was the co-recipient of the Morris Trophy as the outstanding defensive lineman in the Pac-10 last season. He is on the watch list for both the Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy. In 13 games last year, he had 43 tackles, 8.5 for loss, and three sacks.
DE Von Miller, Texas A&M – Another player named to the Lombardi Award Watch List—but maybe THE player to watch. Miller, a 6-3, 226-pound combination linebacker/defensive end, led the country in sacks last season with 17 and was named first-team All-America by The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated as well as second-team All-America honors by the Associated Press and the Walter Camp Foundation. Miller was also named a consensus first-team All-Big 12 selection.
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College – What can Kuechly do? The better question is, what can’t he do? He led the Eagles with 158 tackles last year, second-most in the nation among returning players this season to New Mexico’s Carmen Messina, who had 162 stops. Kuechly had 13 tackles for a loss, a sack and an interception.
LB Greg Jones, Michigan State – Jones’ numbers are just ridiculous. In 33 games, he has 359 tackles (9.2 per game), 36.5 tackles for loss, and 15.5 sacks. Jones earned freshman All-America honors in 2007 after becoming the first true freshman to lead the Spartans in tackles since 1976. He has earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in each of the past two seasons, and was a consensus first-team All-American last fall. Named Big Ten preseason Defensive Player of the Year last summer, Jones shared the league’s postseason player of the year award with Penn State’s Jared Odrick, who was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.
LB Bruce Carter, North Carolina – We like what NFL scouts like—his upside and his amazing speed—and we think Carter is on the verge of a monster season. A second-team All-ACC performer last year, Carter was third on the team with 65 tackles. He also had two sacks and a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown against Georgia Southern. He led the nation with five blocked kicks last year, a testament to his amazing athleticism.
CB Tyler Sash, Iowa – To the surprise of no one inside the Big Ten, the Hawkeye defensive back has been named to the 2010 Lott Trophy Watch List. Sash was an All Big-Ten selection last season, as well as a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award as a sophomore. Sash has 11 career interceptions for a school-record 350 return yards. Six of them, as well as six pass breakups and 85 tackles, came last year.
FS DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson – McDaniel simply has a nose for the ball, whether it’s trying to break it up, intercept it, or jar it loose. The senior had eight interceptions in 2009, a pair of pass breakups and 102 tackles, including a pair of sacks. He is already the No. 8 defensive prospect on ESPN draft guru Todd McShay’s 2011 mock list. Plus he gets big props from us for coming back for his senior season.
SS Rahim Moore, UCLA – They say Moore is a big talker. Not necessarily a trash talker, just somebody who loves to yak it up whenever he gets the chance—which is usually often, no matter where he is—which includes being on the field. When that’s the case, though, he can back it up. Moore led the nation in interceptions as a sophomore last season with a whopping 10, and also had seven pass breakups and 49 tackles.
CB Brandon Harris, Miami (Fla.) – To say there is a history of great defensive backs to come out of Miami (Fla.) is an understatement, to say the least. Ed Reed, anyone? Harris is built along those same speed plus power designs. Harris led the ACC and ranked second nationally in averaging 1.31 passes defended per contest. He tied for second nationally with 15 pass breakups and third in passes defended in earning first-team All-ACC honors.
P Drew Butler, Georgia – What a year for Butler, and what a great weapon for the Bulldogs to have. Still a junior, Butler averaged a whopping 48.1 yards per kick last season—almost four yards better than any returning punter—including five touchbacks, 19 balls inside the 20-yard line and a long of 75 yards. Needless to say, Butler was the Ray Guy Award winner as the nation’s best punter and heads into this season as the odds-on favorite to make it two in a row. Basketball Scores
PR Jeremy Kerley, TCU – Kerley is a big-play threat from anywhere on the field. Not only did he catch a team-high 44 passes for 532 yards, but he led the Mountain West Conference in both kickoff returns (26.6-yard average) and in punt returns (14.4 yards per return). He brought two punts back for touchdowns, second in the country to Ohio’s Lavon Brazill, who had three. Rich Thomaselli is a freelance writer from New York.
QB – Case Keenum, Houston–
RB – Noel Devine, West Virginia–
RB – Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State–
WR – Greg Salas, Hawaii–
WR – Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh–
TE – Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame–
OT – Lee Ziembi, Auburn–
G – Stefan Wisniewski, Penn State–
C – Colin Baxter, Arizona–
G – Justin Boren, Ohio State–
OT – Anthony Costonza, Boston College–
PK – Grant Ressel, Missouri–
KR – Tyron Carrier, Houston–
DE – Josh McNary, Army–
DT – Marvin Austin, North Carolina–
DT – Jerrell Powe, Mississippi–
DE – Allen Bailey, Miami (Fla.)–
LB – Cliff Matthews, South Carolina–
LB – Travis Lewis, Oklahoma–
LB – Nick Bellore, Central Michigan–
CB – Patrick Peterson, LSU–
FS – Mark Barron, Alabama–
SS – Ras-I Dowling, Virginia–
CB – Charles Brown, North Carolina–
P – Tress Way, Oklahoma–
PR – Greg Reid, Florida State– ** Rich Thomaselli contributed this all-american preview for Football Action’s 2010 College Annual