My 2011 Defensive All-American Ballot
By Paul Myerberg // Nov 15, 2011
Picking all-American teams isn’t easy, believe it or not. You only have so many slots to fill: 11 starters on a defense, 11 players you can pick. So it’s only natural that a player or two — or three, or four — fall by the wayside, and for every 11 players you pick for your team it’s only natural that there are at least another 11 players worthy of heavy consideration. There is no second-team on a voters’ ballot; just 11 guys, and pick ‘em as you see ‘em. I filled out the defensive half of my all-American ballot yesterday — three days late for the deadline, so it may not even count. Here are the picks:
DL Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
Alexander’s steadily disruptive play has been lost in the shadow of Oklahoma’s high-powered offense.
DL Devon Still, Penn State
A key cog in Penn State’s bend-but-don’t-break run defense, Still’s forced fumble nearly turned the Nebraska game around.
DL Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
When at his full capacity, Worthy is harder to move than any interior lineman in college football.
DL Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
The numbers don’t lie: under the radar, Mercilus leads the nation in sacks and is third in tackles for loss.
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Again the nation’s leading tackler, Kuechly’s play hasn’t declined in the least in 2011 — the same can’t be said of his team.
LB Lavonte David, Nebraska
His play against Ohio State turned around Nebraska’s season; the move to the Big Ten hasn’t affected his production.
LB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
It was very close between Hightower and his teammate Courtney Upshaw, but went with Hightower.
DB Tyrann Mathieu, L.S.U.
All he does is make plays — though he also commits some pretty idiotic penalties as well.
DB Mark Barron, Alabama
Perhaps the easiest pick of the bunch: no other safety in college football comes close to Barron.
DB Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
I was swayed a bit by his numbers, not to mention his very strong play over the last few weeks.
DB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
Imagine a team that could line Mathieu on one side, Kirkpatrick on another; would there be anywhere for a quarterback to go?
Nagurski Award: Lavonte David, Nebraska
An extremely hard decision. Mathieu seems like the most logical pick, but that he missed a conference game due a violation of team rules detracts from his season, in my opinion. Any one of Alabama’s three notables above would have been a fine pick. Kuechly’s productivity can’t be ignored, but his team is horrible. I went with David because of two facts: one, he has remained remarkably productive statistically; and two, his fumble-strip against Ohio State may have put the Cornhuskers into a B.C.S. bowl. But there are perhaps a dozen candidates for the award, clearly.
Up next: offense. Hopefully, I submit my selection by the announced deadline. A few B.C.S. conference teams who will unequivocally not have an offensive all-American, according to my ballot: Florida, U.C.L.A., Utah, Connecticut and Kentucky.
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Tags: Alabama, Bacarri Rambo, Boston College, Devon Still, Dont'a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick, Frank Alexander, Georgia, Illinois, Jerel Worthy, L.S.U., Lavonte David, Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, Michigan State, Nagurski Award, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tyrann Mathieu, Whitney Mercilus
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