SEC dominates 2011 All-America Team

Top-ranked LSU and No. 2 Alabama lead the way with three players each on to the Yahoo! Sports All-America first team.

The Tigers actually take up four spots on the first team, but that’s because cornerback Tyrann Mathieu doubles as the punt returner.

There was a nine-man (and 10-position) SEC contingent on the first team. Georgia had two players and South Carolina one on the first team.

Coach of year:
Kansas State’s Bill Snyder
Player of year:
Baylor QB Robert Griffin III
Coordinator of year:
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis
Defensive player of year:
LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu
Offensive coordinator of year:
Clemson’s Chad Morris

USC also had two players on the first team.

The Big Ten was second in terms of league selections, with six. The ACC and Pac-12 had three each, and the Big 12 and Mountain West each had two.

The player of the year is Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who leads the nation in passing efficiency and was second in total offense with 4,642 yards.

The coach of the year is Kansas State’s Bill Snyder. His Wildcats were picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 preseason poll, but instead finished second. Snyder got the most from a limited offense and saw substantial improvement from his defense.

The coordinator of the year is LSU defensive chief John Chavis. He oversees a relentless group that lost its best lineman (Drake Nevis), best linebacker (Kelvin Sheppard) and best defensive back (Patrick Peterson) from last season, but this season’s defense is better than the 2010 version. It’s a relentless group, and Chavis always seems to make the right call at the right time.

[Heisman: Forde: Stats justify Robert Griffin III winning | Video: Who takes the trophy?]

The freshman of the year will be announced Saturday, when our Freshman All-America team is unveiled.

QBRobert Griffin III, Baylor; 6-2/220, Jr.; Copperas Cove (Texas) High
"RGIII" became perhaps the most dynamic offensive threat in the country. He leads the nation in passing efficiency and is second in total offense with 4,642 yards. Griffin has passed for 3,998 yards and 38 touchdowns, with just six interceptions, and added another 644 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. He sparked Baylor to its first nine-win season since 1986. That included victories over TCU and Oklahoma in which he led last-minute drives for winning scores.
RBMontee Ball, Wisconsin; 5-11/210, Jr.; Wentzville (Mo.) Timberland
A touchdown machine, Ball has scored 38 touchdowns this season, one short of Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record. Ball's rushing total of 1,759 yards is the highest in the nation. He has had eight 100-yard games and two 200-yard games, and is averaging 135.3 yards per game.
RBTrent Richardson, Alabama; 5-11/224, Jr.; Pensacola (Fla.) Escambia
Perhaps the greatest blend of strength and speed in college football. Richardson exceeded 100 yards nine times and 200 yards once. He has 1,583 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns.
WRJustin Blackmon, Oklahoma State; 6-1/215, Jr.; Ardmore (Okla.) Plainview
The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's premier receiver and a finalist for the award against this year. Blackmon has caught 113 passes – the nation's second-highest total – for 1,336 yards. He has caught two touchdown passes in five games and at least one TD reception in 10 games.
WRSammy Watkins, Clemson; 6-1/200, Fr.; South Fort Myers (Fla.)
This five-star recruit was one of the biggest reasons Clemson won the ACC title one season after finishing 6-7. Watkins has caught 77 passes for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns. He scored two touchdowns each in back-to-back games against Auburn and Florida State. He caught two touchdown passes and also scored on an 89-yard kickoff return to help Clemson erase an 18-point deficit in a 56-45 victory over Maryland. How much does Watkins mean to Clemson? In the one game he missed with a shoulder injury, Clemson lost 37-13 to North Carolina State and didn't score a touchdown until 1:22 remained in the game.
WRRobert Woods, USC; 6-1/180, Soph.; Gardena (Calif.) Serra
Woods teamed up with Matt Barkley to form arguably the nation's best passing combination this season. Woods set a Pac-12 single-season record with 111 catches. He also accumulated 1,292 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. He caught three touchdown passes against Minnesota and scored twice each against Arizona, Notre Dame, Colorado and UCLA.
TMatt Kalil, USC; 6-7/295, Jr.; Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
A likely top-five selection in the NFL draft if he chooses to turn pro early, Kalil is arguably the premier offensive lineman in America. He's the top blocker on a line that allowed just eight sacks all season.
TNate Potter, Boise State; 6-6/295, Sr.; Boise (Idaho) Timberline
Potter anchors a line that has allowed only eight sacks all year, tied for the fewest in the nation. Texas A&M, USC and Middle Tennessee are the only other FBS programs that have yielded just eight sacks. Potter, a left tackle, has earned first-team all-conference honors in each of the past three seasons.
GWill Blackwell, LSU; 6-4/290, Sr.; West Monroe (La.) High
He was a stud defensive lineman in high school but has been a guard since arriving on campus. He opened last season as the starter, but suffered a severe leg injury against North Carolina in the season opener. He was somewhat of a question mark entering this season, but ha been a dominant performer for a road-grading line.
GDavid DeCastro, Stanford; 6-5/312, Jr.; Bellevue (Wash.) High
A tough, tenacious and strong run blocker, DeCastro has been one of the country's top guards in each of the past two seasons. He's a smart guy who picks up blitzes well and also is an accomplished pass blocker. Stanford has allowed just nine sacks and averages more than 200 rushing yards per game. DeCastro was a major reason for the success.
CBen Jones, Georgia; 6-3/316, Sr.; Centreville (Ala.) Bibb County
He is a four-year starter for the Bulldogs and the key guy for a line that was untested going into this season. The Bulldogs average about 30 more yards per game on the ground this season than last season, and Jones' talent and leadership is a big reason for the upgrade.
EMelvin Ingram, South Carolina; 6-2/276, Sr.; Hamlet (N.C.) Richmond County
He was productive as a reserve last season, leading the team with nine sacks, but his full array of talents was on view this season, his first as a starter. He leads a stingy defense with 8.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, and also has 44 tackles, two pass breakups and six quarterback hurries. But that's not all: He showed off his speed by scoring on a fake punt against Georgia – yes, that's right, a defensive end scoring on a fake punt – and also has scored twice on fumble returns.
TDevon Still, Penn State; 6-3/310, Sr.; Wilmington (Del.) Howard
The star defensive player at "Linebacker U" was a defensive tackle. Still finished the regular season with 55 tackles and 17 tackles for loss on a defense that allowed the 10th-fewest yards per game in the country (300.9 per game). Still is a finalist for the Bednarik and Nagurski awards (presented to the nation's best defensive player) and the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman)
TJerel Worthy, Michigan State; 6-3/310, Jr.; Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne
Worthy doesn't have the gaudy numbers of other tackles, but he has made as big an impact as any defensive lineman in the country. Michigan State led the Big Ten in rush defense (104.3 yards) and total defense (272.7 yards, fifth nationally). Worthy, a projected first-round draft pick, has 25 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss, and demands a double-team.
EWhitney Mercilus, Illinois; 6-4/265, Jr.; Akron (Ohio) Garfield
The name is spelled different, but it sounds the same: He's merciless as a pass rusher. Mercilus leads the nation with 14.5 sacks and a whopping nine forced fumbles. Overall, he was responsible for 106 yards in losses.
LBLavonte David, Nebraska; 6-1/225, Jr.; Fort Scott (Kan.) CC, preceded by Miami Northwestern
Nebraska's defense was beset by injuries this season, but David was consistently outstanding for the second season in a row. He's a bit undersized but as sure a tackler as there is in the country. He has 122 tackles and 10 tackles for loss, and was a finalist for the Butkus Award, presented to the nation's top linebacker.
LBDont'a Hightower, Alabama; 6-4/260, Jr.; Lewisburg (Tenn.) Marshall County
He's a big guy but with freakish quickness for someone who weighs 260. Hightower was excellent as a freshman in 2008, but he suffered a knee injury in 2009 and missed all but four games, then didn't seem to be totally healthy last season. Well, he's totally healthy this season. He leads the Tide with 81 tackles and has 9.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, eight quarterback hurries, an interception, a blocked kick and three pass breakups.
LBLuke Kuechly, Boston College; 6-3/237, Jr.; Cincinnati St. Xavier
Kuechly has 191 total stops and averages 15.9 per game to lead the nation in tackles for a second consecutive season. Although he's only a junior, Kuechly already has set the ACC record for career tackles with 532. He has won the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's top linebacker, and the Lombardi Award, which goes to the nation's top lineman or linebacker.
CBMorris Claiborne, LSU; 6-0/185, Jr.; Shreveport (La.) Fair Park
Take your pick with the LSU cornerbacks, the best duo in the country. Tyrann Mathieu is the big-play defensive back, but Claiborne is as dangerous a cover corner as there is. And Claiborne has made his share of big plays, too, with six interceptions, including a "pick six" against Tennessee. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown against West Virginia. Claiborne is a finalist for the Nagurski and Thorpe awards.
CBTyrann Mathieu, LSU; 5-9/175, Soph.; New Orleans St. Augustine
"The Honey Badger" demonstrated a knack for making big plays on defense when they were needed most. Mathieu leads LSU with 70 tackles and six forced fumbles, and has added two interceptions and seven pass breakups. He is excellent in run support and is a big hitter.
FSBacarri Rambo, Georgia; 6-0/218, Jr.; Donalsonville (Ga.) Seminole County
He's a big hitter – and what else would you expect from someone with that last name – who leads the SEC and is third nationally with seven interceptions. He also has seven pass breakups and 52 tackles. He also overcame a personal tragedy this fall; he had two picks, a pass breakup and four tackles against Ole Miss just two days after his unborn son died because of late-pregnancy complications. Rambo decided to play only after talking about the situation with the team chaplain. Rambo to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "I just said a little prayer every time before I went on the field. And I could hear his voice say, 'I'm watching you, Daddy. Go Daddy. Make me proud.' "
SSMark Barron, Alabama; 6-2/218, Sr.; Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul's
The anchor of Alabama's secondary returned for his senior season after last season was cut short because of a torn pectoral muscle suffered during the showdown with Auburn. He was healthy this season and has 66 tackles for a team that leads the nation in pass defense and pass efficiency defense.
KBrett Maher, Nebraska; 6-0/185, Jr.; Kearney (Neb.) High
Maher, who also punts for the Huskers, is 19-of-22 on field goals this season. He was perfect inside 50 yards and has nailed three kicks of at least 50 yards.
PShawn Powell, Florida State; 6-4/235, Sr.; Rome (Ga.) Darlington Prep
Powell leads the nation with an average of 47.0 yards per punt. He also has helped Florida State lead the nation in net punting (42.0). Twenty-one of his 49 punts this season have exceeded 50 yards, and seven went at least 60 yards. He has landed 21 of his 49 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line, and 12 have gone inside the 10. Sixty-three percent of his punts haven't been returned.
KRGreg McCoy, TCU; 5-10/181, Sr.; Dallas Woodrow Wilson
McCoy has averaged 31.6 yards on his 29 returns this season. McCoy ranks fourth nationally in kickoff-return average, but the three players ahead of him had 18 returns or less. McCoy scored on a 94-yard return against Louisiana-Monroe and a 99-yard return against UNLV. He opened the season with a single-game record 229 kickoff return yards against Baylor.
PRTyrann Mathieu, LSU; 5-9/175, Soph.; New Orleans St. Augustine
He also demonstrated a knack for making big plays as a punt returner. His 16.15-yard average on punt returns is the second-highest in the country, but he had 10 more returns than the national leader. He has taken two back for scores – and they were vital, getting LSU on the board for the first time against both Arkansas and Georgia.
QBAndrew Luck, Stanford; 6-4/235, Jr.; Houston Stratford
RBLaMichael James, Oregon; 5-9/195, Jr.; Texarkana (Texas) Liberty-Eylau
RBDavid Wilson, Virginia Tech; 5-10/205, Jr.; Danville (Va.) George Washington
WRMarquess Wilson, Washington State; 6-3/181, Soph.; Tulare (Calif.) Union
WRKendall Wright, Baylor; 5-10/190, Sr.; Pittsburg (Texas) High
TECoby Fleener, Stanford; 6-6/244, Sr.; Joliet (Ill.) Joliet Catholic
TBarrett Jones, Alabama; 6-5/311, Jr.; Memphis Evangelical Christian
TJonathan Martin, Stanford; 6-6/297, Jr.; North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake
GJoel Foreman, Michigan State; 6-5/315, Sr.; Highland (Mich.) Milford
GKevin Zeitler, Wisconsin; 6-4/315, Sr.; Waukesha (Wis.) Wisconsin Lutheran
CPeter Konz, Wisconsin; 6-5/315, Jr.; Neenah (Wis.) High
EFrank Alexander, Oklahoma; 6-4/255, Sr.; Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab
TDerek Wolfe, Cincinnati; 6-5/300, Sr.; Lisbon (Ohio) Beaver Local
EAndre Branch, Clemson; 6-5/260, Sr.; Henrico (Va.) Varina
LBZach Brown, North Carolina; 6-2/230, Sr.; Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy, preceded by Columbia (Md.) Wilde Lake
LBJarvis Jones, Georgia; 6-3/241, Soph.; USC transfer, preceded by Columbus (Ga.) Carver
LBManti Te'o, Notre Dame; 6-2/255, Jr.; Honolulu Punahou
LBCourtney Upshaw, Alabama; 6-2/265, Sr.; Eufaula (Ala.) High
CBDavid Amerson, North Carolina State; 6-3/194, Soph.; Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley
CBCasey Hayward, Vanderbilt; 5-11/188, Sr.; Perry (Ga.) High
FSEric Reid, LSU; 6-2/208, Soph.; Geismar (La.) Dutchtown
SSAntonio Allen, South Carolina; 6-2/202, Sr.; Fork Union (Va.) Fork Union Military Academy, preceded by Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic
KCaleb Sturgis, Florida; 5-11/183, Jr.; St. Augustine (Fla.) High
PQuinn Sharp, Oklahoma State; 6-1/189, Jr.; Mansfield (Texas) Summit
KRDe'Anthony Thomas, Oregon; 5-9/173, Fr.; Los Angeles Crenshaw
PRTavon Austin, West Virginia; 5-9/176, Jr.; Baltimore Dunbar
QBRussell Wilson, Wisconsin; 5-11/210, Sr.; NC State transfer, preceded by Richmond (Va.) Collegiate
RBMarcus Coker, Iowa; 6-0/230, Soph.; Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic
RBBobby Rainey, Western Kentucky; 5-8/203, Sr.; Griffin (Ga.) High
WRRyan Broyles, Oklahoma; 5-10/188, Sr.; Norman (Okla.) High
WRJordan White, Western Michigan; 6-0/215, Sr.; North Ridgeville (Ohio) High
TETyler Eifert, Notre Dame; 6-6/249, Jr.; Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Dwenger
TLevy Adcock, Oklahoma State; 6-6/322, Sr.; Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, preceded by Claremore (Okla.) Sequoyah
TRiley Reiff, Iowa; 6-6/300, Jr.; Parkston (S.D.) High
GGabe Ikard, Oklahoma; 6-4/295, Soph.; Oklahoma City Bishop McGuinness
GOmoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech; 6-3/300, Jr.; Chamblee (Ga.) High
CDavid Molk, Michigan; 6-2/286, Sr.; Lemont (Ill.) Lemont Township
ESam Montgomery, LSU; 6-4/245, Soph.; Greenwood (S.C.) High
TKawann Short, Purdue; 6-3/310, Jr.; East Chicago (Ind.) Central
EJohn Simon, Ohio State; 6-2/270, Jr.; Youngstown (Ohio.) Cardinal Mooney
LBEmmanuel Acho, Texas; 6-2/245, Sr.; Dallas St. Mark's
LBChris Borland, Wisconsin; 5-11/245, Soph.; Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter
LBMychal Kendricks, California; 6-0/240, Sr.; Fresno (Calif.) Hoover
LBDanny Trevathan, Kentucky; 6-1/232, Sr.; Leesburg (Fla.) High
CBAlfonzo Dennard, Nebraska; 5-10/205, Sr.; Rochelle (Ga.) Wilcox County
CBChase Minnifield, Virginia; 6-0/185, Sr.; Lexington (Ky.) Henry Clay
FSTramain Thomas, Arkansas; 6-0/204; Winnie (Texas) East Chambers
SSMatt Daniels, Duke; 6-1/210, Sr.; Fayetteville (Ga.) Fayette County
KRandy Bullock, Texas A&M; 5-9/212, Sr.; Klein (Texas) High
PBobby Cowan, Idaho; 6-5/232, Jr.; Vancouver (Wash.) Evergreen
KRTaveon Rogers, New Mexico State; 6-0/188, Sr.; Antelope Valley College (Calif.), preceded by Lancaster (Calif.) High
PRDevon Wylie, Fresno State; 5-9/185, Sr.; Granite Bay (Calif.) High

Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
Albert Pujols agrees to terms with Angels | Albert Pujols photos
Defeat on Sunday could mean unemployment for coaches Tom Coughlin or Jason Garrett
Manchester United’s Champions League exit exposes flaws