Each week, we’ll be taking a look at the All-American first team, with the assessment being for the body of work of that week alone. Because the contributions of offensive linemen are more big picture and difficult to gauge on a week-by-week basis, they will be excluded from this exercise.
ICYMI: The All-Week 13 team
|Quarterback||Trace McSorley||Penn State|
|Running back||Anthony Wales||Western Kentucky|
|Running back||Justin Crawford||West Virginia|
|Wide receiver||Carlos Henderson||Louisiana Tech|
|Wide receiver||Saeed Blacknall||Penn State|
|Tight end||Gerald Everett||South Alabama|
|Kicker||Butch Hampton||Western Michigan|
QB: Trace McSorley | Penn State
Let it fly, young man!— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 4, 2016
Trace McSorley torched the Wisconsin defense for 384 yards and 4 TDs in Penn State's big win pic.twitter.com/WbJWeBDnli
In a week that was limited to Big 12, Sun Belt action and eight conference championship games, McSorley put up a performance that still very likely would have earned recognition in a full slate of games. Facing a Wisconsin defense that has given some very good quarterbacks fits this year, the second-year starter starred in the Big Ten Championship Game. McSorley was 22-of-31 for a career-high 384 yards and had his second four-touchdown game in as many weeks. It was a remarkably efficient end of the season, as, like his team, McSorley shook off a rough start to become one of the game’s better passers. He will look to keep that going against Southern California in the Rose Bowl.
RB: Anthony Wales | Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers rode the legs of Wales in the Conference USA Championship Game against Louisiana Tech, and it paid off. The senior shattered his season high with 36 carries, picking up 209 yards and four touchdowns in the process. He was also a factor in the passing game, catching five throws for 53 yards and another score.
RB: Justin Crawford | West Virginia
Crawford’s emergence has been one of the best stories around college football this year, as coach Dana Holgorsen plucked him out of the JUCO ranks and he immediately became one of the focal points of the Mountaineers offense. After truly busting out with 331 yards against Oklahoma in Week 12, Crawford had another good game against Baylor on Saturday with 209 rushing yards on 28 carries. It was his fifth game with over 100 yards on the ground this year.
WR: Carlos Henderson | Louisiana Tech
Henderson, who is eighth in the country in receiving yards this season, went over 200 yards in a game for the third time. It seemed his momentum was coming to a close with just four catches for 36 yards in the previous two games, but he came back in a big way against Western Kentucky. The junior caught the ball nine times for 202 yards, including a 74-yard catch and run and a first-quarter touchdown grab.
WR: Saeed Blacknall | Penn State
Many viewers of the Big Ten Championship Game might have been asking “Who?” when Blacknall stole the show midway through Saturday’s contest. After all, the junior had just nine catches for 192 yards on the season coming in, including six games without a catch. But McSorley went to him with the Nittany Lions’ backs against the wall. Down 28-7, Blacknall pulled in a 40-yard touchdown with less than a minute in the first half. Then, on Penn State’s first drive of the second half, Blacknall went 70 yards for the touchdown to make it a one-score game. He finished with six catches and 155 yards.
TE: Gerald Everett | South Alabama
In what was not a huge week for tight ends, Everett made an impact in helping South Alabama end its season with a win. The senior made six catches, picking up 69 yards. Twenty-four of those came on a grab in the fourth quarter that led to a key Jaguars touchdown.
K: Butch Hampton | Western Michigan
Hampton showed up big time for his team in the MAC Championship Game, scoring 17 of Western Michigan’s 29 points to help lift the Broncos to a 13-0 season. His longest kick came from 42 yards out to get the Broncos on the board in the first quarter. He finished 5-for-5 on field goals, also adding a pair of extra points.
|Defensive line||Jonathan Allen||Alabama|
|Defensive line||Dexter Lawrence||Clemson|
|Defensive line||Chris Odom||Georgia Southern|
|Linebacker||Bryan London||Texas State|
|Cornerback||Damontae Kazee||San Diego State|
|Safety||Jordan Sterns||Oklahoma State|
DL: Jonathan Allen | Alabama
Opposing offensive lines resorted to doing everything they possibly could to put bodies in front of Allen, and it worked for a while. In the three games prior to the SEC Championship Game against Florida, Allen was held without a sack. Eventually he was just too good to let that drought go any longer, as he had a solo sack and an assisted one on Saturday, as well as doing his usual work to slow down the opposition. Many felt he deserved an invite to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist, and he did a nice job making a final bid against the Gators.
DL: Dexter Lawrence | Clemson
Lawrence, a gigantic 340-pound freshman, had one of the best games of his young career in the ACC Championship Game. The Wake Forest, North Carolina product had a pair of sacks and finished with four tackles, while applying pressure throughout the evening.
DL: Chris Odom | Georgia Southern
Odom pulled off a hat trick against Texas State, sacking the opposing quarterback three times. He finished the game with five tackles, all of which were solo, and won Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
LB: Reuben Foster | Alabama
Foster has been an absolute beast all season, as evidenced by his new Butkus Award, given to the top linebacker in the country. Even for the standard he has set, he was especially good against Florida. Foster finished the evening with 11 tackles, nine of which were solo, and two sacks. It was his first multi-sack game of the season and fourth with double-digit tackles.
LB: Bryan London | Texas State
Texas State had a miserable year that started off very promising with a triple-overtime upset at Ohio. From there, however, its only other win came against an FCS opponent, as the Bobcats suffered through an 0-8 Sun Belt season. London was a bright spot through the misery, getting double-digit tackles in all but two games. The final game of his freshman season was easily his best, though. The native Texan had 18 tackles, all of which were solo, amazingly. That 18 was the highest number of solo tackles recorded around the nation this year.
LB: Kenneth Olugbode | Colorado
Washington’s offense eventually proved to be way too much for Colorado to handle in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but Olugbode gave a more than valiant effort. The senior destroyed his previous season-high of 11 tackles with 19 in Friday night’s game. That mark also set the Pac-12 Championship Game record. He also assisted on a sack to round out his stellar evening.
LB: Jarred Alwan | Temple
Alwan was one of the reasons for Temple’s surprising demolition of Navy in the AAC Championship Game. He finished with 13 tackles — his first double-digit performance of the year — and assisted on a sack. His play in the middle was a key for the Owls largely stifling the Midshipmen’s triple option.
CB: Damontae Kazee | San Diego State
Kazee picked off two passes against Wyoming en route to earning Mountain West Championship Game Defensive MVP honors. He returned one of his picks 26 yards and the other 18 to finish with 44 return yards. He rounded out his stat line with six tackles and two pass breakups. Kazee’s 17 career interceptions are the most among current players.
S: Taylor Rapp | Washington
Arguably the biggest defensive star of Week 14, Rapp had his hands all over the Huskies’ conference title. The freshman intercepted passes on multiple possessions, returning the first one 35 yards for a touchdown and the second 23 yards. He finished with three tackles and took home game MVP honors.
S: Jordan Sterns | Oklahoma State
Jordan Sterns destroys Dede Westbrook. pic.twitter.com/UHpTXXcGpF— Pistols Firing (@pistolsguy) December 3, 2016
Yes, the Cowboys secondary had a brutal time with Baker Mayfield and the Sooners, but Sterns’ 19 tackles still deserve recognition. The most ferocious hit was unfortunately the one that knocked Heisman finalist Dede Westbrook out of the game, but still, Sterns did his job by jarring the ball loose for an incompletion.
CB: Minkah Fitzpatrick | Alabama
There were about five minutes in the first quarter of the SEC Championship Game where it looked like Florida might make a game of it, but Fitzpatrick helped put those worries to bed with a 44-yard pick-six. The anchor of the Tide secondary ended with four tackles and the pick-six, the fourth of his career. That has already set an Alabama record, and he is only a sophomore.
P: Johnny Townsend | Florida
With the number of three-and-outs that Alabama forces, it stands to reason that the opposing punters will get several chances to shine. Townsend, who could very well win the Ray Guy Award for the country’s top punter, did just that, using some opportunities with a lot of field in front of him to show off his big leg. He punted the ball 218 yards on just four tries, good for an average of 54.5 yards per kick. That was highlighted by 62- and 60-yard boots. However, he did have one blocked and taken back for a touchdown, while the 62-yarder was returned 47 yards.