DeForest Buckner

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson,file

Heisman winner Derrick Henry, finalists and more fill Football Writers All-American team

1 Comment

The bulk of the college football award season may be behind us, but the key All-American teams continue to be released in the coming days before the NCAA assembles this year’s list of consensus All-Americans. The Associated Press released its All-American list on Sunday. On Monday it was time for the Football Writers Association of American to release its annual list of All-Americans. Heisman Trophy winning running back from Alabama Derrick Henry was an easy pick for first team honors, as were fellow finalists Deshaun Watson of Clemson and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. McCaffrey did not make the cut at running back, but was given first team honors as a kick returner.

Joining Henrey as first team All-American running backs are Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Leonard Fournette of LSU. Fournette and Henry each earned first-team honors from the AP as well, while Cook made the second team cut.

First Team Offense

  • QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
  • RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
  • RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
  • RB Derrick Henry, Alabama
  • WR Corey Coleman, Baylor
  • WR Josh Doctson, TCU
  • OL Spencer Drango, Baylor
  • OL Joshua Garnett, Stanford
  • OL Jason Springs, Indiana
  • OL Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
  • C Ryan Kelly, Alabama

First Team Defense

  • DL Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
  • DL Shaq Lawson, Clemson
  • DL Carl Nassib, Penn State
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
  • LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
  • LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
  • LB Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
  • DB Jeremy Cash, Duke
  • DB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
  • DB Desmond King, Iowa
  • DB Shawun Lurry, Northern Illinois

First Team Special Teams

  • K Ka’imi Fairbairn, UCLA
  • P Tom Hackett, Utah
  • KR Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
  • PR William Likely, Maryland

Second Team All-America Team

Offense: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State; RB Royce Freeman, Oregon; WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame; WR Roger Lewis, Bowling Green; WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC; OL Jack Conklin, Michigan State; OL Taylor Decker, Ohio State; OL Tyler Johnstone, Oregon; OL Landon Turner, North Carolina; C Jack Allen, Michigan State. Defense: DL Andrew Billings, Baylor; DL DeForest Buckner, Oregon; DL Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; DL; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; LB Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma; DB Eddie Jackson, Alabama; DB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan; DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State; DB Darian Thompson, Boise State. Specialists: K Jaden Oberkrom, TCU; P Michael Carrizosa, San José State; KR Evan Berry, Tennessee; PR Cameron Sutton, Tennessee.

Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list includes Wright, Oakman, Nkemdiche, Bosa & more

4 Comments

You know we are starting to turn a page toward the next college football season when spring games are in the air and some award gets an early jump on watch list season. Today the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation got award watch list season underway with 42 players being named to the watch list for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which is awarded to a defensive player based largely on performance on the field and character.

Six players on this year’s first watch list were on the watch list for the trophy last season. Duke’s Kelby Brown, Michigan State’s Shilque Calhoun, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves, West Virginia’s Karl Joseph, Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith and Oklahoma’s Eric Striker are among the players represented. Other prominent names for the award on the watch list include Baylor’s Shawn Oakman, Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss, Ohio State’s Joey Bosa, and Arizona’s Scooby Wright III. The watch list includes a total of 37 players from power five conferences, with the Big Ten leading the way with 10 players.

2015 LOTT IMPACT TROPHY WATCH LIST

LB Kevin Anderson, Stanford

DB Dante Barnett, Kansas State

LB Joe Bolden MichiganDB

DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Minnesota

DL Joey Bosa, Ohio State

LB Kelby Brown, Duke

DL DeForest Buckner, Oregon

S Michael Caputo, Wisconsin

DE Shilque Calhoun, Michigan State

S Jeremy Cash, Duke

S Su’a Cravens, USC

LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

DB Nate Gerry, Nebraska

DL Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech

LB Deon Hollins, UCLA

DB Dylan Haines, Texas

CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida

DB Ryan Janvion, Wake Forest

DB Jonathan Jones, Auburn

S Karl Joseph, West Virginia

LB Bronson Kaufusi, BYU

S Derrick Kindred, TCU

DB Jordan Lomax, Iowa

DL Dean Lowry, Northwestern

LB Blake Martinez, Stanford

LB Viliami Moeakiola, Arizona State

LB Calvin Munson, San Diego State

DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

LB Jared Norris, Utah

DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor

DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

LB Joshua Perry, Ohio State

LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama

DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State

DE Sheldon Rankins, Louisville

LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

DB Weston Steelhammer, Air Force

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma

LB Jeremy Timpf, Army

LB Scooby Wright III, Arizona

DT Anthony Zettel, Penn State

CFT Previews: Top NFL prospects playing in the National Championship Game

12 Comments

As the excitement builds for the first national championship decided by a playoff system, NFL scouts will be even more giddy about the available talent on the rosters of the Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Both squads are loaded with players that will eventually make the transition from student-athlete to the professional ranks.

Two potential No. 1 overall picks could play in the contest with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota facing off against Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. However, Bosa is only a true sophomore, therefore he is not eligible for the 2015 NFL draft class.

Here are the Top 10 draft-eligible talents in the contest as they project to the NFL:

1. Marcus Mariota, quarterback, Oregon
The National Championship Game will be Mariota’s next opportunity to make his case to be selected No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in April’s NFL draft.

The Oregon quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner has all the physical tools a team searches for in a franchise quarterback. He stands 6-4 and weighs 219 pounds. His arm is above average. And Oregon coaches claim the quarterback is one of the fastest players on the team with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash.

But the most impressive aspect of Mariota’s play is his decision-making. Questions will continue about Oregon’s system and the type of throws Mariota is usually asked to make. However, the quarterback owns an astounding touchdown-to-interception ratio over his career. Entering Monday’s contest, Mariota has thrown 101 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions. It’s an amazing number that isn’t dependent purely on system.

The National Championship Game should be the proper platform to highlight the skills of the best player in college football and arguably the top talent preparing to enter the NFL.

2. Michael Bennett, defensive tackle, Ohio State
The Buckeyes’ late season surge was helped by the resurgence of its veteran leader along the defensive line. Bennett didn’t perform to expectations during the first half of the season even though the defensive tackle was considered a first-round talent.

Ohio State’s coaching staff then decided to only play Bennett as the team’s 3-technique (defensive tackle that lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard). The senior admitted an increased comfort level, and his play reflected as such.

Bennett is an explosive up-field disruptive force that is nearly as adept at taking on double-teams and properly splitting those blocks. The defensive lineman absolutely dominated the Wisconsin Badgers’ offensive line in the Big Ten Championship Game, and he turned up the heat on Alabama quarterback Blake Sims during the second half of the Sugar Bowl.

Due to Bennett’s strong second-half performance, he will once again be considered a top talent as the draft nears.

3. Arik Armstead, defensive end, Oregon
California v OregonVery few players on the field will present Armstead’s combination of raw talent and athleticism.

The 6-8, 290-pound junior chose Oregon, because the Ducks allowed him to play both football and basketball. Armstead wasn’t great on the hardwood, but he can be very difficult to block when he’s on the gridiron.

Due to Armstead’s size and strength in his hands, he projects as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme — it’s an easy projection since the Ducks employ a three-man front. The concerns this year, though, were from a lack of production and nagging injuries that slowed the talented defensive lineman.

4. DeForest Buckner, defensive end, Oregon
These Oregon defensive ends could easily be flipped based on system fit. Buckner is better at penetrating and making plays in the backfield than Armstead, who is more stout at the point of attack.

The 6-7, 290-pound junior led the Ducks with 13 tackles for loss. He also finished fourth on the team with four sacks.

As a tall and angular defensive lineman, though, Buckner’s ability to play with leverage is inconsistent, and he can be driven off the ball by more physical offensive linemen.

5. Hroniss Grasu, center, Oregon
Grasu is arguably the best center in college football. However, he is yet another system fit. Teams that employ a heavy zone-blocking scheme will value Grasu more highly than traditional power blocking systems. His lateral movement is as good as any interior blocker in the nation. As such, Grasu’s value will range from the early to mid rounds.

The Los Angles native already proved to be an iron man in the middle of the Ducks offensive line. He started 40 straight games before finally getting dinged as a senior. Still, Grasu maintained his status as one of the team’s leaders and his toughness was never questioned.

The center’s ability to prevent penetration against Ohio State’s talented defensive front will be a major indicator as to how well the Ducks perform on offense.

6. Jeff Heuerman, tight end, Ohio State

Jeff Heuerman, Antonio Allen
Jeff Heuerman, Antonio Allen

A quick peek at the tight end’s stats doesn’t indicate a top pro prospect. Yet, Heuerman could easily be one of the first players off the board at his position.

Heuerman only caught 17 passes for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Despite the poor production, the senior presents two key qualities. First, Heuerman is a very good athlete, and he can serve as a vertical threat in any passing game. He may not be used often in Urban Meyer‘s offense, but his potential as a receiver is readily apparent. Also, the tight end is a competent blocker.

As the age of the receiving tight end continues, a prospect that can do well in both areas is extremely valuable.

7. Devin Smith, wide receiver, Ohio State
The best deep threat in college football resides in Columbus, Ohio. Smith leads the NCAA with an average of 27.7 yards per catch. The senior receiver hauled in a catch of over 30 yards in all but two games this season. Smith’s overall route running may be limited, but his ability to take the top off a defense at any time is rare.

8. Taylor Decker, left tackle, Ohio State
The Buckeyes’ rock along their offensive line has a decision to make after this season. The junior may be leaning toward entering the NFL draft, but his value may not be as high as he suspects. After moving to left tackle in 2014, Decker proved he was a competent collegiate blind-side protector. However, he may be better suited at right tackle.

9. Doran Grant, cornerback, Ohio State
The senior cornerback proved to be a physical presence on the edge as Ohio State’s sixth-leading tackler as well as one of the team’s top ball hawks. Grant finished second on the team with five interceptions. When he was challenged by quarterbacks, he continually displayed good ball skills. The cornerback deflected a team high 14 passes, too.

10. Cardale Jones, quarterback, Ohio State
Cardale JonesThe wildcard in both Monday’s game and the NFL draft is Ohio State’s third-string quarterback.

Jones, a redshirt sophomore, is eligible to declare for the draft. It will be an extremely difficult decision after only three career starts, but Jones has played lights out in the biggest games so far. No quarterback in this year’s draft class presents the same size (6-5, 250) nor the arm strength as Jones.

Both teams possesses even more talent, particularly among the underclassmen. Ohio State is absolutely littered with freshmen and sophomores that will one day be in the NFL. One of Oregon’s top players, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, won’t even play in the contest due to a knee injury.

These two programs aren’t simply built for one title run. Both will be legitimate contenders in the foreseeable future due to the NFL-caliber talent found on each roster.