NGSC Sports

NGSC Preseason All-American Team

College football season is near, and National Gridiron Sports Chronicles has selected its preseason All-American team. Every year, high profile names get a ton of hype going into the season with many clandestine talents not getting the recognition they deserve. Subsequently multiple unheralded players emerge, and change the entire landscape of numerous preseason All-American predictions. Throughout our preseason All-American team are multiple names listed that have yet to achieve the status of the more popular players. National Gridiron Sports Chronicles would like to give them their due.

 

First-Team Offense 

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Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: As a redshirt Freshman Winston led Florida State’s football team to an undefeated season, which culminated in a national title for the Seminoles. Winston will have no shortage of targets to throw to as Florida State returns Biletnikoff Award candidate Rashad Green, 2013 John Mackey Award finalist Nick O’Leary, and the sure handed Christian Green. Much is made of Winston’s “windup” when he begins his throwing motion, but he’s proven to be a quick decision maker in the passing game. His throwing motion should not affect him at the collegiate level or his next stop, the NFL. Winston should have another outstanding season in 2014.

 

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Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: Gurley brings great size (6 foot 1, 226 pounds), and outstanding athleticism to the running back position. Prior to his arrival at the University of Georgia, Gurley ran track for Team USA in Europe. Now fully focused on football, Gurley has yet to encounter an opponent to impede his production while healthy. Gurley missed three games with injury last season but still managed to accumulate 989 yards and 10 touchdowns on 165 carries. Gurley will be surrounded by myriad of young playmakers on offense; which means the Bulldogs coaching staff will look to give him the football early and often.

 

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Karlos Williams, RB, Florida State: It’s very difficult to watch film of Williams and conceal a smile. Williams possesses all the skills necessary to cement his status as one of the top running backs in the country. Williams is everything most college football fans believe Melvin Gordon to be. He has outstanding vision, cutback ability, and homerun speed; but his greatest attributes are his leg drive and how well he runs behind his pads. While Gurley has the edge as the nation’s top running back, Williams (from the perspective of sheer talent) is not far behind.

 

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Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: In 2013, Cooper put up 736 yards and 4 touchdowns on 45 receptions, all while battling a pesky toe injury. Cooper is now fully healthy and is expected to flourish in Lane Kiffin’s offense that once featured former Biletnikoff winner Marquise Lee. If Cooper remains healthy throughout the 2014 season, it is possible that Kiffin’s system yields similar results for him.

 

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Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland: Diggs is coming off of a broken leg, but prior to his injury during the 2013 season, he was well on pace for a 1,000-yard season. Diggs accumulated 587 yards and 3 touchdowns through 7 games, and added another 45 yards on the ground. Diggs has the ability to be utilized in the slot, outside the numbers and at the running back position. Not many know that Diggs occasionally “dotted the i” in the I-formation during his high school years, and could very well see some carries at running back this season. His effectiveness at multiple positions might earn him the acclaim he deserves.

 

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Nelson Agholor, WR, USC: Agholor’s greatest attribute is his ability after the catch which is aided by the fact that he was a high school running back. His change of direction, and ability to make defenders miss in tight quarters will enable him to continue putting up impressive numbers. Last season Agholor led all USC wide receivers with 918 yards, while still learning the nuances of the position. Expect Agholor to improve upon his 2013 season, as he will be Cody Kessler’s primary target in 2014.

 

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Ben Koyack, TE, Notre Dame: With Everett Golson back as the triggerman for the Irish, Koyack will play a key role in getting his quarterback back into the fold. Koyack is an outstanding in-line blocker and will certainly play his part in keeping Golson’s jersey clean. Koyack also possesses very good athleticism, and has the ability to create separation as a route runner. His ball skills and ability to highpoint the football will also make him a prominent weapon for the Irish in 2014. With the absence of Notre Dame’s leading wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, Golson will definitely look to get the ball to Koyack.

 

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Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon Grasu could’ve very well declared himself eligible for the 2013 NFL draft, but he elected remain in college for his senior season. While many would consider him to be undersized, Grasu is very athletic and does an outstanding job getting into the second level and picking up blockers. Grasu is a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection and is the best center in the country by a large margin

 

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Tre’ Jackson, OG, Florida State Jackson is a two-year starter for the Seminoles and earned the second-highest grade (80.2) among his fellow offensive linemen. At 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, Jackson is a mammoth guard with solid athleticism and is more than stout at the point of attack. Jackson also excels as a drive blocker in the run game. Last season Jackson was All-ACC first team, and was also selected to CBSSports.com All-America second team. Jackson’s play has been trending upward since becoming a starter, and it is probable he continues his stellar play in 2013.

 

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A.J. Cann, OG, South Carolina: Cann is very good in pass protection and does an exceptional job as a run blocker as well. Once he places his hands on his opponent, he makes sure that they don’t leave his grasp. Cann makes certain there is no leakage along the offensive line, and he will continue to do just that in 2014. While the Gamecocks have a talented young wide receiver corps, they’ll also be breaking in a new quarterback with the loss of Connor Shaw. Subsequently, South Carolina will rely heavily on the run game, which will only accentuate Cann’s skillset.

 

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Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, TEXAS A&M: Last season, Jake Matthews (a top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL draft) manned the left tackle spot for the Aggies. This season Ogbuehi will slide over from right tackle, to the left tackle slot to continue Texas A&M’s legacy of dominance at the position. Ogbuehi combines great size with very good footwork, which should enable him to continue having success at his new position (left tackle) in 2014.

 

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Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa: It is evident in Scherff’s play, and the way he jolts defenders on impact that he is simply one of the strongest offensive linemen in the country. Scherff, now a senior, garnered second-team All-America honors last season, and was also voted first-team All-Big Ten. Scherff should have another big year in 2014.

 

 

First-Team Defense

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Vic Beasley, DL, Clemson: Beasley finished last season with 13 sacks, and led the nation in tackles for loss. While he’ll be the central focus of opposing offenses, Beasley combines speed, quickness and strength necessary to disengage from blockers to make impact plays. Beasley has gained upwards of 10 pounds this offseason and by all accounts was able to maintain his athleticism. Beasley will likely gain All-America honors once again in 2014.

 

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Mario Edwards Jr., DL, Florida State: Last season Edwards bull rushed his way to becoming one of the better pass rushers in college football. While he doesn’t put up big numbers statistically, he applied tremendous pressure on opposing quarterbacks last year, and he’ll likely do the same in 2014. At 6-foot-3, 294 pounds, Edwards is exceptionally quick and knows how to bend the edge. His speed and size keep offensive tackles off balance, which is why he’s able to consistently get pressure on the quarterback. Edwards will also have success bumping down to a three-technique in pass-rushing situations.

 

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Leonard Williams, DL, USC: Williams is incredibly disruptive whether lined up at defensive end or defensive tackle. He’s proven to be too powerful for many offensive tackles, and too quick for opposing guards. His impact will likely be felt most at defensive tackle, as he will continue to rely on his superior athleticism, and improved hand usage.

 

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Vincent Valentine, DL, Nebraska: Valentine seemed to have an epiphany of sorts towards the end of the 2013 season. He seemed to finally realize his ability to overpower blockers at the point of attack, and locate the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage. If he wasn’t able to get into the backfield, he as tying up blockers enabling his teammates to make plays on the football. Many Big Ten teams will attest to the fact that they pay just as much attention to Valentine compared to his teammate defensive end Randy Gregory.

 

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Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami: One of the bright spots for the Hurricanes the past couple years has been the play of Denzel Perryman. Perryman is exceptionally instinctive and seems to be constantly around the football. He does a fine job disengaging from lineman and flowing from sideline-to-sideline.

 

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Myles Jack, LB, UCLA Jack is my favorite linebacker in the country because he’s a freak of an athlete, and can do almost anything on the football field. Jack registered 75 tackles for the Bruins last season, and scored seven rushing touchdowns on offense when the team was running low on talent at the running back position. College football hasn’t seen this dynamic of a two-way threat since Charles Woodson.

 

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Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington While Myles Jack is my favorite linebacker in the country, Thompson is my second favorite, by a hair. Much like Jack, the Huskies toying with the idea of utilizing Thompson at the running back position after losing Bishop Sankey to the NFL. Thompson is outstanding in coverage as he’s a former safety, but he also does a great job keying and diagnosing plays, and arriving at the ball carrier with cruel intentions.

 

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Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma Striker is undersized by most standards, but reaches an intensity level during games few can match. Striker has a high motor and is relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback. His numbers are only going to improve, as Bob Stoops has come to trust Striker’s instincts, and has given him the freedom to freelance more frequently. This is a leap of faith on Stoops behalf will likely pay off.

 

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Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon: Ekpre-Olomu is thought of by many as the best collegiate cornerback in the country, as he was a first-team Pac-12 all-conference selection last season. He also earned first-team All-America honors in2013. Ekpre-Olomu has outstanding lateral agility and long speed, which enables him to cover receivers outside the numbers, as well as in the slot.

 

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Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State: The former ACC Rookie Of The Year had another productive season in 2013, despite the fact that very few quarterbacks were brave enough to throw to his side of the field. Opposing offenses were certainly aware of his ability to close on the football, and often threw to the other side, and took their chances against the very talented P.J. Williams. Darby gets his hands on the football a lot, but has failed to turn those opportunities into interceptions. He’s been working on his hands this offseason, and should do much better in this area in 2014.

 

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Derron Smith, S, Fresno State: Smith plays with a flair for the position that very few are capable of, due in large part to his athleticism and versatility. Smith has tremendous instincts, which enables him to flourish as a center-fielding free safety. If he picks up where he left off in the Las Vegas Bowl, 2014 should be a big year for Smith.

 

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Landon Collins, S, Alabama: Collins primarily played free safety and strong safety last season but on occasion played a hybrid linebacker/safety spot for the Crimson Tide. Being that he was at times a part of Alabama’s front seven Collins . Collins was second on the team in tackles last season with 67. Collins will be asked to cover more in space in 2014, and has the range necessary to excel covering running backs and wide receivers.

 

 

First-Team Special Teams

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Michael Hunnicutt, K, Oklahoma: Hunnicutt was a Semifinalist for the Groza Award, and was honorable mention All-America by multiple publications in 2013.

 

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Spencer Roth, P, Baylor: Roth is a 2013 honorable mention All-America and consensus first-team All-Big 12. Roth is also a four-year starter at the position.

 

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Reid Ferguson, LS, LSU: Ferguson was offered a scholarship out of high school as a long snapper, which is a feat few college long snappers have accomplished. Ferguson has played in every game, and performed every snap since becoming a Tiger.

 

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Kermit Whitfield, KR, Florida State: Boasting a time of 10.1 in the 100-meter dash, Whitfield might be the fastest college football player in the country. Whitfield is a threat to score whenever he gets his hands on the football, and he will have plenty more opportunities to make plays in 2014. Last season Whitfield led the nation in kick return average (36.4), breaking a 59-year-old ACC record.

 

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Daje Johnson, PR, Texas: As evidenced by his punt return against Oklahoma, Johnson has the lateral agility, and vision necessary to exploit running lanes as a punt returner. He also has exceptional long speed, which enables him to take it the distance once in the open field. Charlie Strong has been very pleased about Johnson’s development, and believes he should have a breakout year.

 

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Tony Pierson, All-Purpose, Kansas: Pierson will have the opportunity to impact the game playing multiple positions on offense (wide receiver and running back), and on special teams. Pierson’s ability to create rushing lanes behind the line of scrimmage, and make defenders miss in the open field should aid him in becoming one of the nation’s leaders in all-purpose yards.

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Ralph Garcia

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