SI's 2018 College Football All-America Team

The SI Staff
Sports Illustrated

After a regular season that was dominated by many of the preseason favorites to compete for a national title, it's fitting that 10 members of SI's 2018 All-America first team came from the four College Football Playoff semifinalists: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Of course, the year's dominant individual performances were not limited to those front-runners. Our writers and editors have cast their ballots, and now the results are in.

An asterisk (*) next to a player's name indicates that he was a unanimous selection.

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray.
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray.
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First-Team Offense

QB: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

By the slimmest of voting margins, Murray edged out Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa for first-team honors on the strength of a closing push in which Oklahoma's suspect defense compelled him to score almost every time the Sooners had the ball. Murray accounted for 4,945 total yards and 51 touchdowns as a runner and a passer, and his 96.1 QBR is the best mark through the end of the regular season since ESPN began to track the metric in 2004.

RB: Darrell Henderson, Memphis

Henderson was a threat to score from anywhere on the field at any time for the AAC West champion Tigers, posting multi-touchdown games in 10 of 13 outings and finishing with 1,909 rushing yards, second to only Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor, and 25 total touchdowns. No back with at least 200 carries this year even came close to his eye-popping 8.9 yards per attempt.

RB: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

The Badgers were a one-man show on offense for most of the season, but Taylor has never minded carrying a heavy load. He followed up the 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns he posted as a freshman with 1,989 yards and 15 touchdowns this fall, with three-touchdown games in four of Wisconsin’s seven wins.

Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger.
Texas A&M TE Jace Sternberger.

WR: Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

Sooners fans are crossing their fingers that Brown's left leg injury in the Big 12 title game won't compromise his explosiveness or his availability for the Orange Bowl. Brown's 1,318 receiving yards as a junior set the pace for the Murray-led passing attack, and he and teammate CeeDee Lamb became the school's first receiver duo to surpass 1,000 yards in the same season.

WR: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

The most elusive and electric member of Alabama's loaded receiver corps, Jeudy led the Crimson Tide with 59 catches for 1,103 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 18.7 yards per catch and developing an uncanny chemistry with Tagovailoa.

TE: Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M

Those who watched Jimbo Fisher's Florida State teams through the years knew that Fisher's offense puts its tight ends in position to be primary playmakers, and in the head coach's first year in College Station, Sternberger thrived to the tune of 47 catches, 804 yards and 10 touchdowns, all team highs.

Alabama tackle Jonah Williams.
Alabama tackle Jonah Williams.

OT: Andrew Thomas, Georgia

After following up a standout freshman campaign with an exceptional sophomore year paving the way for D'Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield, Thomas should enter 2019 as one of the top tackles NFL scouts will be monitoring.

OT: Jonah Williams, Alabama*

The only offensive player to be a unanimous first-team selection on both our midseason and postseason All-America teams, Williams was Pro Football Focus's highest-graded lineman in the FBS this season.

G: Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin

If Benzschawel takes the field with his teammates in the Pinstripe Bowl, he will close his Wisconsin career with 49 consecutive starts, the last two years' worth of which have been spent paving the way for the nation's leading rusher, Jonathan Taylor.

G: Dru Samia, Oklahoma

Whichever running back the Sooners had healthy at any given time never lacked for running lanes thanks in part to Samia, who represents Oklahoma's third-straight Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year (sharing the honor with West Virginia's Yodny Cajuste and Kansas State's Dalton Risner.

C: Michael Jordan, Ohio State

The fallout from a turbulent season in Columbus was rarely visible when the offense was on the field, as Jordan helped first-year Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins direct traffic and made offensive coordinator (and interim turned full-time head coach) Ryan Day look good.

First-Team Defense

Northern Illinois end Sutton Smith.
Northern Illinois end Sutton Smith.

DL: Clelin Ferrell, Clemson

Once again, Ferrell was the statistical leader of the Tigers' fearsome defensive line, racking up 10.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback pressures for a unit that allowed a nation-best 2.4 yards per carry to opponents.

DL: Quinnen Williams, Alabama

We knew that the Crimson Tide would replace its NFL-bound front seven studs from a year ago with equally talented underclassmen; we just didn't know who would break out and when. Williams was at his most disruptive down the stretch as Alabama's margins of victory tightened somewhat, finishing the regular season with 18 tackles for loss and eight sacks after spending the past two years on the bench.

DL: Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame

The disruptive man in the middle for the Irish defense has made life easy for first-year coordinator Clark Lea, adding three forced fumbles and a blocked kick to his 8.0 sacks.

DL: Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois

Smith tore up the MAC on his way to tying for the FBS lead in sacks with 15.0 and added two touchdowns, including an 85-yard scoop-and-score in the Huskies' final game of the regular season.

LSU linebacker Devin White.
LSU linebacker Devin White.

LB: Josh Allen, Kentucky*

Underrated no longer, Allen gave Kentucky's opponents nightmares and boosted his draft stock into the top half of the first round with a dominant junior season in which he finished with 14.0 sacks and five forced fumbles. He is Kentucky's first winner of the Bronco Nagurski Award, given to the nation's top defensive player.

LB: Devin White, LSU

Allen may have taken home the Nagurski, but White beat him out for the Dick Butkus Award, given to the top linebacker in college football. (He's LSU's first recipient of a national award since Odell Beckham Jr. took home the Paul Hornung Award in 2013. White finished second in the SEC with 115 total tackles and became the seventh Tiger with back-to-back 100-tackle seasons.

LB: Devin Bush, Michigan

Bush is the only Wolverines defender on the first team, which doesn't adequately represent the dominance that coordinator Don Brown's unit displayed for most of the year as Michigan put itself in position for playoff consideration. Bush was everywhere on the field, showing up first or second on the team leaderboard in tackles, sacks, pass breakups and tackles for loss.

Notre Dame quarterback Julian Love.
Notre Dame quarterback Julian Love.

CB: Deandre Baker, Georgia

Baker emerged as one of the central leaders of a unit that lost a ton of talent to the NFL, starting every game for the Bulldogs and making offenses pay for playing toward his side of the field with 10.0 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

CB: Julian Love, Notre Dame

A Jim Thorpe Award finalist like Baker and the Irish's most fearless playmaker, Love broke the Notre Dame career record for pass breakups and displayed his nose for the ball with three fumble recoveries.

S: Grant Delpit, LSU

Any one of LSU's starting defensive backs would be right at home on this team, but Delpit found himself around the ball constantly in his sophomore season, pacing the Tigers with 5.0 sacks, five interceptions and 14 passes defended.

S: Deionte Thompson, Alabama*

Thompson could be the first DB off the board next April. His closing speed and violence at the point of attack help explain his four forced fumbles, and he finished second only to do-everything linebacker Dylan Moses for the team lead in tackles.

First-Team Specialists

Texas A&M punter Braden Mann.
Texas A&M punter Braden Mann.

K: Andre Szmyt, Syracuse*

With Dino Babers's lightning-fast offense hitting its stride in year three, Szmyt got plenty of chances to add to Orange leads and did not waste them. The freshman made 28 field goals, including all three of his attempts from at least 50 yards out, and came up just nine points short of Darrell Henderson for the national scoring title.

P: Braden Mann, Texas A&M*

Mann earned every bit of his unanimous selection with an average punt of 51.1 yards, the only player in the country whose average surpassed 50. Eight of the Aggies' 12 games included a punt that went 60 yards or more.

All-Purpose: Rondale Moore, Purdue

You'd think it'd be impossible to top setting a school record with 312 all-purpose yards in your college debut, but Moore kept delivering the highlights for a Purdue team that put up one of the most fun 6–6 campaigns in recent memory, finishing 22 yards outside the nation's top 10 receivers and doing plenty of damage on runs and returns, too.

Returner: Greg Dortch, Wake Forest

Dortch was one of four players to return multiple punts for touchdowns, redeeming a 2017 season cut short by injury with a 10.2-yard average per punt return that placed him in the top 15 in the nation.

Mecole Hardman, Tua Tagovailoa and Ed Oliver.
Mecole Hardman, Tua Tagovailoa and Ed Oliver.

Second-Team Offense

QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama; RB Travis Etienne, Clemson; RB Alexander Mattison, Boise State; WR Andy Isabella, UMass; WR Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State; TE Alize Mack, Notre Dame; OT Andre Dillard, Washington State; OT Dalton Risner, Kansas State; G Terrone Prescod, NC State; G Bunchy Stallings, Kentucky; C Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama.

Second-Team Defense

DL Ed Oliver, Houston; DL Jachai Polite, Florida; DL Montez Sweat, Mississippi State; DL Gerald Willis, Miami; LB Joe Dineen Jr., Kansas; LB Benn Burr-Kirven, Washington; LB Jordan Kunaszyk, Cal; CB Hamp Cheevers, Boston College; CB Byron Murphy, Washington; S Taylor Rapp, Washington; S Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State.

Second-Team Specialists

K Cole Tracy, LSU; P Will Hart, Michigan; All-Purpose Darrell Henderson, Memphis; Returner Mecole Hardman, Georgia.

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