Picking A 2012 Pre-Season All-American College Football Defense And Special Teams

LSU Tigers cornerback Tyrann Mathieu reacting to the name "Ameer Abdullah", which he WILL HEAR repeatedly this season.

Yesterday I outlined a 2012 preseason All-American offense that was so popular that I thought I'd do it again with defense and as an added bonus, SPECIAL TEAMS! WOOHOO!!!

Should it bother you that I can pick a bunch of Big Ten All-Americans, but not include a single Nebraska player on defense despite rampant homerism? Yes, it should.

Defensive Line - Four

If you want to be safe, pick a guy from LSU or Alabama. I am not picking a guy from LSU or Alabama, and am therefore subject to claims lacking credibility.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE - South Carolina

Clowney terrorized Nebraska tackles in last year's Capital One Bowl, causing false starts and general mayhem, and he did it as a freshman. Imagine what a year of experience, weight training, and understanding the ‘Cocks defense is going to do for him. Sophomore slump? Only if he turns out to be an idiot. I wouldn't count on it.

William Gholston, DE - Michigan State

Gholston was suspended for a game last season for punching Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan. That's the kind of play that will get you labeled as dirty (if you keep doing it) or forces a maturity that wasn't there before as you realize the consequences of your actions. I'd bet on the latter. As a sophomore, Gholston had 70 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss last season, but only five sacks. If he's considered for All-America honors this season that sack total needs to improve.

Kawann Short, DT - Purdue

Gholston's got the name, but Short bettered him with 17 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. On top of that, who looks at Purdue as producing NFL first-round draft choices at defensive tackle? Short was inconsistent in 2011 and that needs to change this season, but right now he's ranked ahead of Gholston in NFL draft profiles.

Johnathan Hankins, DT - Ohio State

Depending upon where you look, Hankins has the edge on both Short and Gholston. He played at 335 pounds last season, but has slimmed down (HA!) to 317 this year, hoping to improve on his 2011 totals of 67 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and three sacks.

John Simon, DE - Ohio State

We're in the B1G, right; so two Ohio State guys have to be up for All-America honors. Simon recorded 53 tackles last season, including 16 for a loss to go with seven sacks. He was a third-team All-American by the AP last season and first-team All Big Ten.

Linebackers - Four

Abide my B1G homerism, gents, but I have thrown in a SEC player just to stay somewhat legitimate.

Chris Borland - Wisconsin

Who finished ahead of Lavonte David in tackles last season, second in the Big Ten and seventh nationally last season? Borland, that's who. He put up 143 tackles as a sophomore, which should speak highly of his potential.

Gerald Hodges - Penn State

Who knows what's going to happen this season with Penn State. We know they'll still be playing football, and that means that someone, even with a depleted squad, will be making tackles. That puts Hodges in a position to become an even bigger force than he was last season when he led the Nittany Lions with 106 tackles, including 10 for loss and 4.5 sacks. Hodges was first-team All-Big Ten last season.

Max Bullough - Michigan State

Is he better than teammate Denicos Allen? Bullough anchors the middle, while Allen roams the outside. Both were sophomores last season, with Bullough ending up the team leader in tackles with 89. Allen did his part, finishing tied for sixth nationally and second in the Big Ten for sacks with 11. Both are part of the reason, along with that Gholston fellow, why the Spartans are considered a contender for the Western Division title in the B1G.

Jarvis Jones - Georgia

Jones finished second in sacks nationally with 13.5 last season, playing as a sophomore. He recorded 70 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, and had two forced fumbles. He's our SEC choice for the linebacker spot.

Defensive Backs - Four

It's required by law that we have a SEC representative. EEESSEEECCCEEEE speed and all that, it's certain that Big Ten defensive backs don't deserve recognition.

With that, we go with the obvious choice first.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

As a sophomore (that seems to be a common thread, doesn't it, underclassmen?), Honey Badger set the nation afire. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist, a first-team All-American by many media outlets, won the Chuck Bednarik Award, and the list could go on. He's one of the most phenomenal players in the country, yay, SEC.

Even though I got sick of hearing Brent Musberger mush over him (and I'm sure I'm not alone), we can't hold Brent against him.

Johnny Adams, Michigan State

What's this? I could be breaking laws! Adams is widely regarded as the Big Ten's best defensive back. (At least he's a senior now.) He was first-team All-Big Ten in 2011 and will be considered a first-round NFL draft pick by the time he's done. Out of nine passes defended, he pulled three interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, another in which he had a 30-yard return and one against Nebraska.

T.J. McDonald, USC

I haven't picked a PAC-12 dude yet, and McDonald is widely regarded as one of the best safeties in the nation. He was the third-leading tackler on his defense last season with 67 tackles and intercepted three passes, had a fumble recovery and a blocked punt. He was selected as a Sporting News first-team All-American, and made the second-team All-America team for SI.com.

Ray-Ray Armstrong could have made this list, but he is no longer playing football. Does Miami recruit idiots, or does Miami create them? Of course, I can't bring that up without saying the same about Greg Reid, who formerly played for Florida State.

Who should be the fourth (he says, prompting you to consider 2012 college football on a national scale, hiding his own laziness)?

Kicker

Brett Maher, Nebraska

As long as Alex Henery doesn't win a post-career NCAA award and Nebraska has a darned good kicker, I'm going to vote for them for All-America honors. Maher

Punter

Brett Maher, Nebraska

Do you get extra credit as a punter if you're also one of the best kickers in the nation? It's doubtful the national media recognizes that fact, but here at Corn Nation where homerism is king (at least right now before the season starts), it counts for something. So, Maher is the dude. Punter, kicker, special teams ass kicker.

Returner

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

I realize it's going to be "Honey Badger this", and "Honey Badger that" once the season starts, but LSU's Tyrann Mathieu is going to have some competition from a rising star at Nebraska. Abdullah set a school record within his first few games on the field (UNDERCLASSMAN!! WOOHOO!!). Imagine experience and then BOOM!

Coach

URBAN MEYER!

Urban Meyer is the best coach of all time, or will be when he's done, because he'll have won championships with seven different teams. That's why I'm not going to bother nominating him. Imagine if they put statues of him up at all those schools, then it turns out he's a ghastly sonofabitch. At whom will we scream? All of them?

What about Charlie Weis? If he improves Kansas' win total, will he get the nod? Or will that go to Mike Leach?

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