clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

SB Nation's 2013 college football preseason All-America teams led by Clowney, Alabama

Our network of college football writers voted on the best players in the country as we enter 2013. Below are our first-, second-, and third-team preseason All-Americans.


Our only unanimous first-team vote across all 45 ballots? Yep, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.

The team with the most representation? Yep, Alabama, which has the most first-team players (three), the most first-team coaches (two), and the most total selections (eight). (And see the tight end section: it could be even more.)

Stanford and Texas A&M follow with five each, and Ohio State and Oregon each has four (two of those Ducks the same guy). Baylor, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kansas State, and LSU each has three, and Louisville, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, and USC all have two apiece.

SB Nation preseason All-America first team


Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M 2012: 5,116 total yards, 155.32 rating 2012 Heisman

James Gardner, Good Bull Hunting: Time will tell if this sophomore whippersnapper has the chops to succeed at the collegiate level. Sure, he might have tweeted that he is ready to get out of College Station. But sometimes the lights are just so bright, even Kanye needs a break.

Matching the numbers of 2012 would be quite the feat for Manziel. He's bound to see more zone defense daring him to sit in the pocket. Fortunately, Johnny can spin it a bit and has an embarrassment of riches to distribute the ball to.

A Heisman might be a lot to ask, but if the Aggies have a big year, Manziel will garner plenty of awards again.

Running backs

T.J. Yeldon, Alabama 2012: 261 yards vs. Georgia and Notre Dame 2012 SEC All-Freshman

Peter Berkes: Yeldon broke out as a true freshman in 2012, racking up over 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards per carry for Alabama.

His production should bump up in 2013 now that he's the feature back. At 6'2, 216 pounds, he has the frame to handle the workload, but should remain one of the most explosive running backs in the country.

De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon Career: 147.9 all-purpose yards per game 2011 Freshman All-America

Rodger Sherman: Oregon's latest rocket-quick running back burst onto the scene in a major way.

In 2011, he was third on the depth chart behind LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner, but he still managed 595 yards on just 55 carries. Last year, he was behind Barner, and even with increased touches, still averaged 7.6 yards per carry.

Now, he's got the backfield more to himself, and scary, scary things are going to happen. Also, he's faster now.

Wide receivers

Marqise Lee, USC Owns five Pac-12 records, 22 USC records Unanimous 2012 first-team All-American

Peter Berkes: The USC wideout has clearly established himself as the best wide receiver in America entering 2013.

He's put up back to back 1,000-yard seasons and double-digit touchdowns, and caught a monstrous 118 passes for 1,721 and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012. He'll adjust to a new quarterback this year, but should still put up huge numbers.

Sammy Watkins, Clemson 2011: Third freshman AP All-America first-teamer ever Career: 98.3 yards from scrimmage per game

Rodger Sherman: After Watkins' incredible freshman season, it seemed like we would need to write about somebody replacing him. He busted out 1,219 yards and was an All-American, only the fourth true freshman to do so. But he regressed in 2012, being suspended and injured while Hopkins had 1,405 yards.

The rising junior has reportedly put on 10 pounds while shifting from his outside WR spot to Hopkins' boundary WR position, a job that calls on him to be less of the fly-past-everybody speedster and more of an all-around threat and blocker.

"I'm coming along and looking like Nuk out there," Watkins says.

Tight end

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington 2012: Led nation's TEs in yardage 2012 Mackey finalist

Rodger Sherman: The receiving-first tight end is a hot commodity at all levels of football, and no school has a better one than Seferian-Jenkins.

In just two years, he's already smashed Washington's career receptions, yards, and touchdowns records for tight ends. The 6'6, 260-pounder has also taken snaps at defensive end and played for the Huskies' basketball team as a freshman.

Seferian-Jenkins is currently "indefinitely" suspended.

[Editor's note: If ASJ remains suspended, Alabama receiver Amari Cooper will replace him on our first team.]

Offensive tackles

Jake Matthews, Texas A&M 33 career starts First-team 2012 All-SEC

James Gardner, Good Bull Hunting: Matthews anchored the right tackle position opposite All-American buddy Luke Joeckel. The pair have been starters since their true freshmen years.

Joeckel has since left for the NFL as a top-five pick, and many believe Matthews will have similar fortune in 2014. Matthews will slide over to left tackle to watch No. 2's blindside.

If the name Matthews sounds familiar, it's because he is the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews and cousin of Clay and Casey, plus his brother Mike will start at center for the Ags this year. Not bad family football lineage.

Taylor Lewan, Michigan 35 career starts 2012 Big Ten OL of the Year

Zach Travis, Maize n Brew: Lewan turned down first-round money in the NFL Draft to come back for his senior year, and he should be a big part of Michigan's offensive success.

The O-line is very young inside, and with Lewan back the team has an experienced starter and probable top-10 pick to lead the way. He should once again lock down the blindside for Devin Gardner and dominate in the run game.

He has all the tools to be an NFL left tackle and a long history of production in college.


David Yankey, Stanford 27 career starts Consensus 2012 All-America

Todd Husak, Rule of Tree: Yankey received more national praise last year, earning All-American honors due to his ability to shift from tackle to guard so seamlessly that it would sometimes happen in the same series.

His athleticism and strength allowed him to not just play the positions, but dominate them both.

With the tackle positions cemented with Peat and Fleming, Yankey should be able to feel a little more comfortable on the inside, where he can be a devastating pulling guard on the power play, but more importantly, help out the center in pass protection.

Cyril Richardson, Baylor 29 career starts 2012 Big 12 OL of the Year

Mark C. Moore, Our Daily Bears: After a redshirt year spent mostly keeping his immense size an asset, not a hindrance, former three-star recruit Richardson entered Baylor's rotation at guard before moving outside to tackle for RG3's Heisman season in 2011.

As a junior, he moved back inside to left guard, where he earned conference honors and All-America consideration.

He returns for his senior season as Baylor's longest-tenured starter on the offensive line and a vital cog in the Big 12's best rushing game.


Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma 37 career starts Three-time Academic All-Big 12

Peter Berkes: The fifth-year senior was named First-Team All-Big 12 by both the coaches and media last year, and barring injury, should shine once again in 2013.

Crimson and Cream Machine: He was great before getting injured last year. I think he will be even better this year. He will be the leader for an experienced offensive line as long as he can stay healthy.

Would not be surprised to see Ikard in the Rimington Trophy conversation.

Defensive ends

Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina 2013 favorite for like every defensive award Unanimous 2012 All-America

Connor Tapp, Garnet and Black Attack: Clowney has successfully navigated impossible expectations ever since the best-recruit-in-the-history-of-recruiting-coverage label was thrown on him out of high school.

Now up to 6'6, 272 pounds and still about as fast as the projected starting running back for the Denver Broncos, Clowney has both the physical maturity and knowledge of South Carolina's scheme to truly dominate in his final season as a Gamecock.

Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas Second on team in TFL despite missing seven games 2011 All-Big 12

Wescott Eberts, Burnt Orange Nation: Jeffcoat has now suffered two pectoral injuries in the last two seasons, though he has proven that he can play at a high level.

His start to the 2012 season was excellent -- despite playing in only six games, his 9.5 tackles for loss were still good enough to rank 11th in the conference. Had he kept up that pace for the rest of the season, he would have led the Big 12.

The start to his 2012 season bodes well for 2013 because it suggests that he wasn't impacted by his inability to make strength gains in the weight room as he rehabilitated.

Defensive tackles

Will Sutton, Arizona State Tied with Clowney for top returning TFL Consensus 2012 All-America

Cody Ulm, House of Sparky: There's no way Sutton matches his ridiculous numbers (23.5 tackles for loss) from last season, but he is still a game-changer in every sense of the word.

It's simply stunning to see a defensive player on the interior line get in an opponent's backfield as often as Sutton does, especially one of Sutton's stature.

Outside of Jadeveon Clowney, Sutton might be the most explosive defender in the country.

Louis Nix III, Notre Dame D gave up only four rushing TDs in 2012 Responsible for this photo

Rodger Sherman: Nix -- or as he would prefer you call him, Irish Chocolate -- is a mountain at 6'4, 340 pounds, and did a phenomenal job plugging up the middle of Notre Dame's defense at the nose tackle spot in 2012.

The Irish only allowed 105.7 yards per game on the ground and got to the BCS National Championship Game thanks to suffocating defense, with the big guy up front playing a large part.

He can also play a little (not so little) quarterback.

Outside linebackers

Kyle Van Noy, BYU Two straight years with at least one TFL, sack, INT, pass breakup, hurry, FF, FR, kick block, and TD each year Multiple 2012 watch lists

Brett Hein, Vanquish the Foe: On the weak side, Van Noy won't rack up large amounts of tackles -- and Bronco Mendenhall likes it that way. Free to make plays from the weak side, Van Noy has not just one, but two sack-forced-fumble-recovered-for-touchdown game-winners in his career.

So it's not hyperbole that Van Noy single-handedly wins games for BYU, seals leads into victories (that's Jeff Godfrey he's running down), or at the very least, gives the offense one last shot to score through his individual effort.

With 44.5 tackles-for-loss in his career, KVN needs only five more to become BYU's all-time TFL king.

Anthony Barr, UCLA Tied for national returning sacks lead 2012 AP second team

Bruins Nation: 13.5 sacks, 21.5 TFLs, Pac-12 first-team, projected top-10 pick, sacking Matt Barkley into the third round.

That's the resume Anthony Barr accumulated in his first 14 games as a defender. He was an absolute force as a pass rusher and against the run. He's a prototype for what a 3-4 OLB should be physically (6'4", 245), coming from a family with four former NFL players.

Barr's year was so impressive that his sack total outnumbered the entire UCLA defense's from 2011. After he skipped a sure-fire first-round selection to return for his senior season, the sky is the limit for Barr in 2014 and beyond.

Middle linebacker

C.J. Mosley, Alabama Led nation's No. 1 2012 defense in tackles Consensus 2012 All-America

Do this ...... while racking up eight total tackles and a tackle for loss, and you're the BCS National Championship's Defensive MVP.


Bradley Roby, Ohio State Tied for 2012 Big Ten lead in passes defended 2012 Thorpe semifinalist

Luke Zimmermann, Land-Grant Holy Land: You might not know Roby, but you absolutely should.

Even if you don't see him this season aside from the Buckeyes' arguably toughest task this season, going on the road to face Northwestern (that's unfortunately not snark), don't worry, neither will fans of the 11 other teams Ohio State faces. The Buckeyes' shutdown (in the purest of senses) corner will undoubtedly be thrown away from basically until the postseason.

If a team gets daring enough and rolls the dice to test the future top-15 NFL Draft pick, Roby is prone to make it pay.

Roby ranked third in the nation in passes broken up last season (averaging around 1.73 per game) and follows the Ohio State tradition of Nate Clements, Chris Gamble, and Malcolm Jenkins as elite Buckeye corners with NFL pedigree written all over them.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon Led 2012 Pac-12 in passes defended Second in country in 2012 FF

"@ESPNCFB: BUY or SELL: @WinTheDay's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is the top CB in CFB? : " BUYING, GO AGAINST HIM EVERYDAY


Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama INT each against Georgia and Notre Dame Third in 2012 SEC in INTs

Roll Bama Roll: Leading the way will be Ha Ha Clinton-Dix -- no joke is forthcoming -- who led the team in interceptions last year with five although he didn't become a starter until the fitfh game.

Clinton-Dix had 37 tackles and seven pass breakups to go along with the picks. If any Bama DB proves me wrong by garnering first-team preseason All-SEC honors, this would be the guy - and the media might be at the point of designating one Bama DB on principle.

[Editor's note: And why not?]

Ed Reynolds, Stanford Holds school record for pick-sixes 2012 All-Pac-12 first team

Todd Husak, Rule of Tree: It isn't often than a team's biggest playmaker can be found on the defensive side of the ball, but that is the case with Reynolds.

Reynolds will need to continue to come up with big plays at crucial times, like he did with the game-changing interception in the Pac-12 Championship.

What stands out more than any physical attribute is his ability to recognize the route and anticipate the quarterback's target. His timing was simply incredible.


Cairo Santos, Tulane Just about perfect 2012 Groza

Rodger Sherman: The Brazilian-born Santos handled kicking and punting duties as a freshman and sophomore, but emerged as the nation's best kicker after ditching the punting gig: 21-for-21 on field goals, including 57- and 54-yarders, 26-for-27 on extra points. (One got blocked.)

That got him the Lou Groza Award and consensus All-America honors.

That said, the person writing this is a Northwestern homer and needs to point out that Jeff Budzien is going to absolutely SMOKE Santos' punk ass for this year's Groza award. He went 19-for-20, with 50 extra points -- that's twice as many as Santos, who is pathetic. Budzien's only miss was a potential game-winner against Nebraska that went wide right by about five feet from 53 yards.

Watch out, Cairo -- #Budzien4Groza is coming for you.


Kyle Christy, Florida Returning punting AVG leader 2012 Ray Guy finalist

Andy Hutchins, Alligator Army: How often do you recall Florida foes having to operate out of the shadow of their own goalposts, and how good did you feel about the Gators defense stopping a team from clicking off 80 yards?

Moreover, the only game in which Florida had more than five offensive three-and-outs was the South Carolina game, in which it had six on 15 drives - but Christy essentially made up for that offensive futility and then some, averaging 54.3 yards per punt. And those are the punts that didn't result in fumbles by returners.

I didn't try to get "KY-LE CHRIS-TY" chants started in the student section for nothing.


Tyler Lockett, Kansas State National honors both as FR and SO 33.8 career KR AVG, 4 TDs

Rodger Sherman: The son of Kansas State's all-time leading receiver, Kevin Lockett, and nephew of its fourth-leading receiver, Aaron Lockett, Tyler was born to tear up the field in Manhattan.

He took two kickoffs to the house as a freshman despite only holding the returner role for about half of the season and had another two kick-sixes in 2012 while seeing his role as a receiver increase.

Head coach

Nick Saban, Alabama Doesn't have time for this Good at coaching football

Peter Berkes: There's only one choice to helm the best team in the country. With three national championships in the past four seasons and four in his career, Saban has cemented himself as one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.

His single-minded focus is already stuff of legend, and he has a good chance at picking up a third consecutive championship in 2013.

Offensive coordinator

Chad Morris, Clemson Improved Tigers O from No. 88 to No. 9 in three years Considered top HC candidate

Shakin' the Southland: Players know that they must get after it all the time else they'll be standing on the sidelines.

Overall, Morris has completely turned this offense around. Clemson was without an identity before his arrival and has embraced his HUNH approach.

While a lot of the improvement can be attributed to increased talent, there is no question that Clemson has won more than a couple games by wearing out the opponent and making plays when needed to pull out wins.

The Clemson offense is one that can really do damage when it gets rolling.

Defensive coordinator

Kirby Smart, Alabama Five straight top-five defenses Other top HC candidate

Rodger Sherman: Smart's defense lost six starters to the NFL after the 2011 season and stayed the best in the nation.

Just 10.9 points per game, 250.0 total yards, and 2.43 yards per rush, all the best in their respective categories.

Much of it's got to do with preposterously talented players, but much of it is Smart's mastery of Saban's schemes.

SB Nation preseason All-America second and third teams

Second team Third team
Quarterback Quarterback
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Running backs Running backs
Lache Seastrunk, Baylor Todd Gurley, Georgia
Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona Duke Johnson, Miami
Wide receivers Wide receivers
Amari Cooper, Alabama Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Mike Evans, Texas A&M Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Stefon Diggs, Maryland Tight end
Tackles Arthur Lynch, Georgia
Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama Tackles
Antonio Richardson, Tennessee Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
Guards James Hurst, North Carolina
Spencer Long, Nebraska Guards
Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
Center Anthony Steen, Alabama
B.J. Finney, Kansas State Center
Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
Defensive end Defensive end
Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame Morgan Breslin, USC
Devonte Fields, TCU Aaron Lynch, USF
Defensive tackles Defensive tackle
Anthony Johnson, LSU Dominique Easley, Florida
Timmy Jernigan, Florida State Outside linebackers
Outside linebackers Christian Jones, Florida State
Ryan Shazier, Ohio State Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
Trent Murphy, Stanford Inside linebackers
Middle linebacker Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Shayne Skov, Stanford A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
Cornerbacks Cornerbacks
Jason Verrett, TCU Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma Quandre Diggs, Texas
Safeties Safeties
Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State Hakeem Smith, Louisville
Craig Loston, LSU Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
Kicker Kicker
Chandler Cantazaro, Clemson Chris Boswell, Rice
Punter Punter
Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State Richie Leone, Houston
Returner Returner
Dri Archer, Kent State De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Head coach Head coach
Urban Meyer, Ohio State Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Offensive coordinator Offensive coordinator
Philip Montgomery, Baylor Mike Bobo, Georgia
Defensive coordinator Defensive coordinator
John Chavis, LSU Derek Mason, Stanford

More from SB Nation:

Who has the fastest offense? Every team ranked

It’s okay, Johnny Manziel. All college towns are BS

2013 bowl projections: Bama-Oregon and 34 other games

Bill Connelly’s Big 12 preview countdown almost done

National recruiting coverage

Today’s college football news headlines