PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Running back Montee Ball #28 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs the ball in the first half against the Oregon Ducks at the 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2, 2012 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Now that we have some offensive and defensive lines to work with, SB Nation's Preseason All-America Team can work backwards. Today, we'll add running backs and linebackers.
When drawing up the ballot, we left the numbers of running backs, receivers and tight ends flexible, since we're building the type of program that's going to adapt its schemes to its personnel. Two of the five offensive weaponry slots went to running backs, with Chuck Schwartz of Bucky's 5th Quarter here to break down the most-voted back:
After a season that saw Montee Ball tie Barry Sanders' single-season touchdown record and become a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, most expected the Badger back to enter the NFL Draft. However Ball had other plans, announcing just days after Wisconsin's Rose Bowl loss to Oregon that he would be returning to Madison for his senior season.
The Doak Walker Award finalist carries lofty expectations heading into the 2012 season. Once again Ball will be able to run behind a gigantic Wisconsin offensive line, but will likely see more attention from opposing defenses with the exit of Russell Wilson. If Ball can stay away from trouble off the field, he'll have a great chance at becoming Wisconsin's third Heisman Trophy winner.
The complete running backs list:
Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Likewise, voters were free to choose whether to go with four defensive linemen and three linebackers or vice versa. Based on their votes, we're running a 4-3 this year. The top two vote-getters at the position were obvious, and Kyle King of Dawg Sports presents our No. 1 linebacker:
The NCAA owed Georgia a solid after the A.J. Green suspension, and the Bulldogs were due a favor from Lane Kiffin after delivering him his only halfway-notable career victory; the Red and Black were paid back, with interest, in the form of Jarvis Jones, a USC transfer who was cleared to play at the 11th hour last autumn. The hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end made the most of his opportunity, thriving in Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme, which puts a premium on variability and versatility of the sort Jones embodies. To top it all off, he returned in 2012 with the stated goal of elevating both his game and the Bulldogs'. Jones finishes the drill on the field, is a team leader in the locker room, and stays away from scooters and parking tickets on campus. What's not to like?
And our linebackers in all their glory:
Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Also, our previous All-Americans:
Left tackle: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Left guard: Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Center: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Right guard: Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
Right tackle: D.J. Fluker, Alabama
End: Sam Montgomery, LSU
Tackle: Kawann Short, Purdue
Tackle: Star Lotulelei, Utah
End: William Gholston, Michigan State
While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel: