Rivals.com Preseason All-America Team

MORE: Rivals.com Preseason All-America Second Team | Photo Gallery

Rivals.com First-Team All-Americans: Offense
QB: Brian Brohm, Sr., Louisville
Consider him the Comeback Kid. Brohm tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in 2005 and underwent surgery on his right thumb midway through last season, but he still led Louisville to the Big East title. Brohm threw for 3,049 yards with 16 touchdowns last year despite missing two games and playing the second half of the regular season with a brace on his thumb. Imagine what Brohm could do if he stays healthy all year.
In action: Brian Brohm video highlights
RB: Darren McFadden, Jr., Arkansas
The preseason Heisman Trophy favorite finished second in last year's balloting after rushing for 1,647 yards while leading Arkansas to a surprising Southeastern Conference Western Division title. McFadden also threw three touchdown passes while lining up at quarterback last year and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. McFadden and 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker of Georgia are the only SEC players ever to rush for 1,000 yards in their freshman and sophomore seasons.
In action: Darren McFadden video highlights
RB: Steve Slaton, Jr., West Virginia
Slaton wasn't even the most highly touted running back in his West Virginia recruiting class when he signed with the Mountaineers. Now he's considered one of the top backs in the nation. Slaton ranked fourth in the country in rushing last year with a school-record 1,744 yards. His breakaway speed makes him a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Slaton already ranks third in school history in career rushing yards (2,872) and fourth in rushing touchdowns (33).
In action: Steve Slaton video highlights
WR: Mario Manningham, Jr., Michigan
Perhaps no player in the nation has a greater knack for delivering big performances in his team's biggest games. Manningham had a combined five touchdown catches in back-to-back victories over Notre Dame and Wisconsin last year. After a knee injury sidelined him for much of the second half of the year, Manningham closed the season by catching six passes each in losses to Ohio State and Southern California. He caught 38 passes for 703 yards and nine touchdowns last year despite missing three games.
In action: Mario Manningham video highlights
WR: DeSean Jackson, Jr., California
Jackson rivals Arkansas' Darren McFadden and Florida's Percy Harvin as the nation's top multipurpose threat. Jackson led the nation in punt return average last year while also catching 59 passes for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns. This big-play threat ranks third among all active players with his career average of 17.1 yards per catch. Jackson caught 28 passes that resulted in gains of at least 20 yards last season.
In action: DeSean Jackson video highlights
TE: Travis Beckum, Jr., Wisconsin
One of the Big Ten's top receivers happens to play tight end. Beckum ranked second in the conference with 75.1 receiving yards per game and third in the league with 5.6 receptions per game last year. He also was Wisconsin's leading receiver with 61 catches for 903 yards, which set school records for a tight end in both categories. No active tight end had more catches or receiving yards per game last year.
In action: Travis Beckum video highlights
OT: Sam Baker, Sr., Southern California
Baker was a Rivals.com third-team All-American in 2005 and moved up to the second team last year. We're guessing he will warrant first-team honors this year while anchoring the line for the top-ranked Trojans. This marks the fourth consecutive year Baker has started at left tackle. Baker probably would have been drafted in the first round this year if he hadn't chosen to return for his senior season.
In action: Sam Baker video highlights
OT: Jake Long, Sr., Michigan
How important is Long to Michigan's offense? Ask Mike Hart. The star running back has said he probably wouldn't have returned for his senior season if Long would have entered the NFL Draft. Long and Arkansas running back Darren McFadden are the only 2006 Rivals.com first-team All-America offensive selections who returned this season. Long probably will be the first offensive lineman taken in next year's NFL Draft.
In action: Jake Long video highlights
C: Jonathan Luigs, Jr., Arkansas
This guy has gone a long way toward helping Darren McFadden and Felix Jones develop into the nation's top running-back tandem. Luigs was one of six finalists last year for the Rimington Trophy that goes to the nation's top center. He has helped Arkansas lead the SEC in rushing each of the last two years. Arkansas ranked fourth in the nation last season with 228.5 rushing yards per game.
In action: Jonathan Luigs video highlights
OG: Duke Robinson, Jr., Oklahoma
Rivals.com showed its faith in Robinson last year by making this great nephew of Motown legend Smokey Robinson a third-team All-American. This year we second that emotion. As a sophomore, Robinson recorded 108 knockdown blocks, including 12 against Oregon and Oklahoma State. He's the top returning lineman for a team that moved the ball effectively last year even after an injury to star running back Adrian Peterson.
In action: Duke Robinson video highlights
OG: Jeremy Perry, Jr., Oregon State
Perry dominated Hawaii high school football so thoroughly that he was the first offensive lineman ever named the state's offensive player of the year. He has carried that success over to the college game since coming to the mainland. This third-year starter was the Pac-10 co-freshman of the year in 2005 and earned first-team all-Pac-10 honors last season. Perry missed spring practice while recovering from a knee injury, but it shouldn't hamper his production this season.
In action: Jeremy Perry video highlights
Utility: Percy Harvin, So., Florida
Rated by Rivals.com as the top player in the 2006 recruiting class, Harvin enters his second season at Florida as one of only three sophomores on our All-America team. Harvin averaged 11.4 yards each time he touched the ball last season. Although he's listed as a wide receiver, Harvin led the Gators in rushing in five games. Harvin was the MVP of the SEC championship game and caught nine passes in the BCS title game.
In action: Percy Harvin video highlights

Rivals.com First-Team All-Americans: Defense
DE Calais Campbell, Jr., Miami:
Longtime Miami observers are comparing the 6-foot-8, 280-pounder to former Hurricanes star Ted Hendricks. In fact, Campbell is among the leading contenders for the Hendricks Award, which is presented annually to the nation's best defensive end. Campbell established himself as a dominant force as a sophomore when he recorded 10 sacks and 20 tackles for losses, which ranked fourth nationally and led the Atlantic Coast Conference. Campbell finished with 84 total tackles, 16 quarterback pressures and forced three fumbles to earn all-ACC recognition.
In action: Calais Campbell video highlights
DE Derrick Harvey, Jr., Florida:
Although collecting just 24 total tackles last season, Harvey distinguished himself on the nation's grandest stage as a walloping pass rusher and a defender to be feared. He earned defensive Most Valuable Player honors in the national championship game by registering four tackles, three sacks and recovering a fumble in the Gators' 41-14 victory over Ohio State. For the season he had 11 sacks and recovered three fumbles. A second-team All-SEC selection a year ago, he's expected to be better this season. He's one of just two starters to return from the national championship team.
In action: Derrick Harvey video highlights
DT Glenn Dorsey, Sr., LSU:
An inspirational speaker who lectures children on the value of staying in school, Dorsey practiced what he preaches. He turned down the NFL Draft to return for his final year of eligibility, even though he was coming off an All-American performance. Possessing great quickness and strength, Dorsey posted 64 tackles last season, which was at least nine more than any other All-American defensive tackle posted last season. He doubled the tackle output of two other All-American defensive tackles. Dorsey had three sacks and 8 tackles for losses.
In action: Glenn Dorsey video highlights
DT Sedrick Ellis, Sr., Southern California:
A consensus All-Pac 10 selection who was named an All-American by some services, the Trojans' nose guard is on "watch lists" for all of the nation's most prestigious awards for defensive players. Ellis, a starter since his sophomore year, was forced to sit out games last season against Nebraska, Arizona and Washington State because of torn cartilage in his right knee. Ellis still managed to amass 34 tackles, including eight for losses. He also recovered two fumbles. He won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10's top defensive lineman. The award is voted on by the league's offensive linemen.
In action: Sedrick Ellis video highlights
LB Dan Connor, Sr., Penn State:
The latest product of "Linebacker U," Connor distinguished himself a year ago despite playing alongside teammate Paul Posluszny, who was recipient of the Bednarik Award. Though perhaps overshadowed by his teammate, Connor still managed to earn All-Big Ten and All-American status after accumulating 113 total tackles, including five sacks. Connor also forced three fumbles. Connor has 274 career tackles, which puts him in a tie for fifth place on Penn State's all-time list - just 98 away from Posluszny's school record.
In action: Dan Connor video highlights
LB Vince Hall, Sr., Virginia Tech:
Hall was a first-team all-conference performer in 2006 after leading the league with 128 tackles, including 10 tackles for losses. Hall, who was mentioned on some All-America teams a year ago, is a big reason the Hokies led the nation in total defense the last two seasons. In each of those two seasons Hall has amassed more than 100 tackles to lead the team. He now has 304 tackles for his career. This year he's looking to become the first player to lead the Hokies in tackles three consecutive years since Rick Razzano, who led them from 1974-1977. Last season Hall posted at least 12 tackles in six games, including 13 against Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
In action: Vince Hall video highlights
LB James Laurinaitis, Jr., Ohio State:
Laurinaitis made a tremendous impact as a first-year starter by winning the Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player and earning All-American and first-team All-Big Ten acclaim. Laurinaitis, who played in 12 games as a freshman, started all 13 games at middle linebacker for the Buckeyes last season. His first big play was an interception and 25-yard return in a 24-7 victory over No. 2 Texas. He led the Buckeyes with 115 tackles 8 for losses and five interceptions. He also had four sacks and broke up seven passes.
In action: James Laurinaitis video highlights
CB Antoine Cason, Sr., Arizona:
Cason boasts All-America credentials in football and in track as a member of the Wildcats' 4x100-meter relay. Cason has been a starter since his freshman year when he intercepted four passes, broke up six others and forced three fumbles. Last season, in which he was a finalist for the Thorpe Award, Cason had three interceptions. He returned one of those picks for a 39-yard touchdown, providing the eventual winning points in a 24-20 upset of No. 8 California. He also posted 62 tackles, which were the third most on the team.
In action: Antoine Cason video highlights
CB Brandon Flowers, Jr., Virginia Tech:
Although he's coming off an ankle injury suffered in last year's Chick-fil-A Bowl, Flowers has proven himself a consistent performer at the boundary corner. He was a leader on a unit which in 2006 led the nation in total defense and pass defense. Last season, Flowers grabbed three interceptions, posted 51 tackles and 3 sacks which tied for the team lead en route to earning All-ACC honors and All-America recognition. He also led the ACC with 18 passes broken up and 21 passes defended. He was at his best against Miami, when he had two interceptions and a tackle for a loss.
In action: Brandon Flowers video highlights
S Taylor Mays, So., Southern California:
Thrust into the starting lineup as a freshman because of an injury to Josh Pinkard, Mays responded with an excellent year and the promise of more to come. Mays, the son of a former NFL defensive lineman, has great size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and good speed (4.5). He blended those attributes to post 62 tackles, three interceptions and three passes broken up a year ago. He was named to almost every freshman All-America team as well as being named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
In action: Taylor Mays video highlights
S Kenny Phillips, Jr., Miami:
Phillips immediately demonstrated his ability to be an impact player when he was a freshman. He grabbed an interception in the third overtime of a 36-30 victory over Clemson in his first collegiate start. Since then, he's only gotten better. A candidate for the Thorpe Award as the nation's premier defensive back, last year Phillips posted 71 tackles, four interceptions and broke up six passes even though he missed the final three games of the season because of a broken thumb. He had three interceptions against Duke, and every one of them was needed as the Hurricanes' escaped an upset, 20-15.
In action: Kenny Phillips video highlights

Rivals.com First-Team All-Americans: Special Teams
K Sam Swank, Jr., Wake Forest:
It's not often a kicker is voted the team's most valuable player, but Swank certainly deserved that honor in 2006 after setting 11 school records. Also an accomplished punter, Swank converted 23 of 31 field-goal attempts, which included 13 of 15 from beyond 40 yards. Swank also went 5-for-7 from 50 yards or farther. He tied an NCAA record for most 50-yard field goals in a game by making three in a 25-23 victory over N.C. State. He also accounted for all of the Deacons' scoring in their 9-6 victory over Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game.
In action: Sam Swank video highlights
P Durant Brooks, Sr., Georgia Tech:
Brooks returns after a stellar season in which he was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter, a first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection and a second team All-American. His 40.66-yard net average ranked second in the nation and his 45.52-yard punting average was fourth nationally. Both averages led the ACC. Of the 79 times he punted last season, only 11 went for touchbacks. He pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line 35 times and 27 of his punts covered at least 50 yards.
KR Marcus Thigpen, Jr., Indiana:
Thigpen was the nation's leader in kickoff return yardage last season after averaging 30.1 yards on 24 attempts. That included returns for touchdowns against Ball State, Connecticut and Illinois. The 87-yard return for a touchdown accounted for the Hoosiers' only points in a 14-7 loss to Connecticut, while his 100-yard return for a touchdown proved critical in defeating Ball State 24-23. His 98-yarder to open the second half helped spark a come-from-behind, 34-32 win over Illinois. His 2006 performance warranted All-America acknowledgement from Rivals.com and several other sources.
In action: Marcus Thigpen video highlights
PR DeSean Jackson, Jr., California:
Jackson is the only player to be listed on the Rivals.com All-America team at two positions, but no one would dispute he's deserving. An All-America and All-Pac 10 punt return man, Jackson led the nation with a brilliant 18.2-yard average on 25 returns. That included a school and Pac-10 record four returns for touchdowns. Those scores came in games against Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon and Arizona. The touchdown against Arizona covered 95 yards. He was the recipient of the inaugural Randy Moss Award as the nation's best return specialist. He has returned five punts for touchdowns in his career.
In action: DeSean Jackson video highlights

MORE: Rivals.com Preseason All-America Second Team | Photo Gallery

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.


 

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