There is an inherent flaw in the naming of Walter Camp’s All-American teams at a particular position
The reaction from USC Leonard Williams after being named a Second-Team All-American perfectly illustrates the issue.
Williams wasn’t happy when the announcement was made Thursday:
Williams should be disappointed. There appears to be a built-in bias against interior defenders along the defensive line.
All four of the First-Team All-Americans named this year are defensive ends. Only one defensive tackle was included last year. The last time a pair of defensive tackles were named to the First-Team Walter Camp All-American team was in 2011.
Flashy stats seem to outweigh quality play by those that do more of the dirty work. It’s not hard to figure out the reasoning behind the four defensive linemen named to the first team this year. All four were among the college football’s top seven in sacks.
Whereas Williams finished the season with six sacks. But that’s certainly not a reflection in his level of play.
There are major differences in styles of play between each of these players. Williams was dominant this season, but he’s starts as a 3-4 defense end. Williams isn’t an edge rusher whose primary job is getting to the quarterback. He plays all along USC’s defensive line, and his play was as good as anyone that was named to the first team.
Washington’s Danny Shelton was also named to the second team. As a pure nose tackle, Shelton’s production was unbelievably impressive. The mammoth defensive tackle was second on Washington’s roster with 89 total tackles. He finished with 16.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Those are numbers that nose tackles simply don’t post all that often. Yet it wasn’t good enough to be named to the first team.
A differentiation between positions along the defensive line should be prioritized by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Not all positions and systems are created equally, but the players in them can be as dominant as those posting better overall numbers.