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ATVS All-American Ballots

They gave us a vote?! Two of them?!

NCAA Football: Auburn at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The SB Nation College Football All-American teams are out, and we here at ATVS are partly to blame for the results. Due to a complete lack a quality control at the mothership, this humble blog somehow gets two votes. Billy and I stepped up to the plate and did our best not to screw things up.

At each position, I will order the players in the order in which we listed them in our ballot. There were some swing positions, like you could vote for “other” offensive linemen, so I’ll put them at the end of their playing position.


Billy: Lamar Jackson, Louisville; Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; Khalil Tate, Arizona

Poseur: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; Lamar Jackson, Louisville; Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma St.

We disagreed on the order, but we had the same top two. Lamar Jackson was every bit as awesome as he was last season, throwing for 3,489 yards on 8.7 yards/attempt. He added an additional 1,443 yards on the ground on 208 carries, and a grand total of 42 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Yeah, he’s still good.

Mayfield threw for 4340 yards on a ridiculous 11.8 yards/attempt and 71.0% completion rate. He threw for 41 touchdowns and five picks, and while he’s not Jackson on the ground, he added 310 yards and 5 TDs with his legs. He also had that Johnny Football big game ability. It’s a shame Lamar wasn’t as high profile this year as he was last season, but damn. Mayfield’s passing numbers look made up.

Billy stuck with his guns on running quarterbacks by taking Khalil Tate in his third slot. Tate threw for just 1289 yards on 153 attempts, but he ran for 1352 yards on 133 tries. My issue is that he missed two games, barely played in the opener, and then had less than 10 pass attempts in two other games. He also has a dismal 8/7 TD/INT ratio. He can run, but I can’t get over the lack of passing. So instead, I went all-in on the nation’s passing leader, as Rudolph threw for 4,553 yards on 10.0 yards/attempt. He only rushed for 29 yards on the season, but somehow added 10 TD on the ground to his 35/9 passing ratio.

Running Back

Billy: Bryce Love, Stanford; Rashaad Penny, SDSU; Kerryon Johnson, Auburn; Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Poseur: Bryce Love, Stanford; Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin; Ronald Jones II, USC

We both agreed that Bryce Love was the nation’s best, topping both of our ballots. He ran for 1,973 yards on 237 attempts, good for a spectacular 8.32 average. He scored 17 touchdowns as well. He rushed for more than 100 yards in every game save one (Washington St), and he scored in every game except one (Notre Dame). Love was awesome.

On the rest of the ballot, we parted ways. Rashaad Penny topped 2,000 yards and scored 19 touchdowns, but he also had 275 carries and padded his numbers against some horrible teams. Then again, Penny torched some Pac-12 defenses, too, so he’s not a statistical illusion. Kerryon Johnson (263-1,320-17) and Jonathan Taylor (273-1,847-13) were the best offensive weapons on teams that fell just shy of the playoffs. I also saved a vote for USC’s tailback (242-1,486-18), who struggled in the season’s first half, but blossomed in November to steal the spotlight from his more high-profile quarterback.

Wide Receiver

Billy: James Washington, Oklahoma St.; AJ Brown, Ole Miss; Anthony Miller, Memphis

Poseur: James Washington, Oklahoma St.; Trey Quinn, SMU; Steve Ishmael, Syracuse

Again, we agreed on the top line and then diverged. James Washington (69-1,423-12) is a test case for the question of separating the contributions of a star receiver and quarterback. Frankly, I don’t know the line, or who made who, but I do know Washington led the nation in receiving yards in one of the most fearsome offenses in the country.

Billy favored the big play guys after that. Anthony Miller (92-1,407-17) finished second in the nation in yards and AJ Brown (75-1,252-11) had the second fewest receptions of any receiver in the top ten in yards. But he made those catches count.

I went the other way and went for guys who may not have specialized in breaking off huge plays, but instead made lots and lots of them. Only two receivers in the country caught at least 100 passes, and they both made my ballot. Both are familiar to LSU fans, one as an opponent and one as a former Tiger. Steve Ishmael (105-1,347-7) and Trey Quinn (106-1,191-12) each hurt Tiger fans in a different way.

Tight End

Billy: none

Poseur: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma

We weren’t required to vote for a tight end, as the ballot had a slot for receivers instead. But I made sure to include the best tight end in the nation on my ballot, and the guy who made the Oklahoma offense go. Andrews (58-906-8) opened up holes in the opposing defenses and was Mayfield’s most reliable target.


Billy: Billy Price, Ohio St.

Poseur: Billy Price, Ohio St.

I’m not going to lie, this is when we have to start taking people’s word for it. While I can make a statistical case at nearly every other position, on the line, we are pretty much at the mercy of team sack and rushing stats, plus the award circuit. Billy Price is going to win pretty much every award he’s eligible for and is a consensus dominant player on a dominant line. This one was easy to take their word on.

Offensive Guard

Billy: Beau Benschawel, Wisconsin; Braden Smith, Auburn

Poseur: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame; Tyrone Crowder, Clemson; Brian Allen, Michigan St.

I didn’t go exclusively by the award watch lists, but Quenton Nelson is the only guard to even make it to the semifinalists of the Outland Trophy. That was good enough for me. Then its your usual list of highly touted players from terrific offensive lines. Yes, it’s a bit based on reputation, but like I said, we’re relying on others here. I also threw a vote to the dynamic Brian Allen, who played both guard and center, and helped Sparty bounce back from a lousy year.

Offensive Tackle

Billy: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma; Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame; Martinas Rankin, Mississippi St.; Jamarco Jones, Ohio St.

Poseur: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma; Martinas Rankin, Mississippi St.; Greg Little, Ole Miss

Orlando Brown was the easy call. He’s the best lineman on one of the best offenses in the country, and he’s responsible for keeping Baker Mayfield upright. And let’s face it, a lot of people want to hurt Baker Mayfield. That’s a tough job. Mississippi St. allows less than a sack a game, and that’s in an offense that threw the ball 333 times this year. You could make a case that the Bulldogs had the best offensive line in the country, and we both voted accordingly.

Billy went with the chalk pick and I can’t blame him. But I kept coming back to the fact that Notre Dame’s offensive line isn’t absurdly dominant, so how can it have two guys on the list? I decided to cap them at one lineman, and I went with the guard. I freely admit I could be wrong, but I also wanted to honor Greg Little, a guy who played great football in a near thankless situation.

Defensive End

Billy: Bradley Chubb, NC State; Jeff Holland, Auburn; Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois; Hercules Mata’afa, Washington St.

Poseur: Bradley Chubb, NC State; Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois; Hercules Mata’afa, Washington St.; Mat Boesen, TCU

Let’s not kid ourselves, tackles for loss rule here. You want explosive guys who can wreak havoc in the backfield. Sutton Smith (28.5 TFL, 14 sacks) and Bradley Chubb (25 TFL, 10 sacks) were the nation’s leaders in tackles for a loss. Hercules Mata’afa (21.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks), another guy who showed up on both of our ballots, wasn’t far behind.

We split on the next two guys. I went for Boesen (14.5 TFL, 11.5 sacks) who didn’t have quite the TFL numbers, but was the Power 5 leader in sacks. That was good enough for me. Billy is still experiencing PTSD from Holland (12 TFL, 9 sacks), as his best game was against LSU, when he recorded 2 sacks.

Defensive Tackle

Billy: Ed Oliver, Houston; Trenton Thompson, Georgia

Poseur: Ed Oliver, Houston; Raekwon Davis, Bama

Tackles are a little tougher to evaluate. They don’t get the big numbers, as their job is more often to clog up the middle than run into the backfield. I’m not sure about Billy, but I gave extra weight to rushing defense, which is why the rock of Bama’s defense, Davis, made my ballot. Georgia’s defense is almost as good against the run. The dominant SECCG performance probably helped.

And of course, we both worship at the altar of Ed Oliver (14.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks). It’s rare for a tackle to be such a disruptive force. Even better for Houston, he’s even better against top competition. Houston played two ranked teams and he had 4.5 TFL’s in those two games, his best outside of playing Navy, a big game in its own right.


Billy: Devin White, LSU; Roquan Smith, Georgia; Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma; Joel Lanning, Iowa St.; Joe Dineen Jr, Kansas

Poseur: Devin White, LSU; Roquan Smith, Georgia; TJ Edwards, Wisconsin; Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson; Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

We both leapt at the chance to put Devin White (127 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 3 PBU) at the top of our ballots. He was a four-time SEC Player of the Week and almost single-handedly saved LSU’s season. He was too awesome for words. Roquan Smith (113 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 2 PBU) is on that same tier of awesomeness.

Billy then dipped back into the pool of edge rushers. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (71 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 8 sacks), aside from winning our All-American Mingo Award, is a disruptive presence on the end. Joe Dineen Jr (135 tackles, 23 TFL, 2 PBU) managed to be both a tackling machine and a force in the backfield. Then we return to more traditional linebackers in a sense. Joel Lanning (110 tackles, 10 TFL, 2 PBU) is one of the cooler stories, converting from quarterback to stud linebacker, and he was a key part of the Cyclones’ stunning season.

I took guys more in that mold. TJ Edwards (75 tackles, 11 TFL, 4 INT) was a do-everything player in the middle of the Wisconsin defensive storm. Dorian O’Daniel (84 tackles, 10 TFL, 5 PBU, 5 sacks) similarly did a bit of everything on a killer Clemson defense. Virginia Tech’s defense wasn’t quite as stellar as those others, but Tremaine Edmunds (102 tackles, 14 TFL, 3 fumbles) was every bit the force the other guys on the ballot were.


Billy: David Long, Michigan; Greedy Williams, LSU; Donte Jackson, LSU

Poseur: Josh Jackson, Iowa; Mark Gilbert, Duke; Denzel Ward, Ohio St; Greedy Williams, LSU

Billy went much stronger on DBU than I did. Turns out, the rest of the nation saw how good Donte Jackson (10 PBU) was even without the numbers, as I tried to let the numbers guide me and not let the fact I see Jackson play every week give him an unfair edge over guys I don’t. But I applied the same rule to a guy like David Long (4 PBU), who has the reputation but not really the numbers either.

Greedy Williams (10 PBU, 5 INT), on the other hand, had those numbers. But our nation’s leader in passes defended was Josh Jackson (18 PBU, 7 INT), who was a busy bee indeed. He also had a highlight reel pick which showed off his athleticism. He led the nation in picks and was second in PBU’s. Just a monster statistical year. Stop throwing at him. Then I went for Mark Gilbert (12 PBU, 6 INT), who had a nice statistical year and played his best against better competition.


Billy: Minkah Fizpatrick, Bama; Justin Reid, Stanford; Ronnie Harrison, Bama

Poseur: DeShon Elliott, Texas; Quin Blanding, Virginia

Another position in which its tough to make a statistical case. After earning your love by repping DBU at corner, Billy earns your scorn by then going all-in on Alabama’s safeties. Fitzpatrick (52 tackles, 6 TFL, 7 PBU) was everywhere for the Bama defense that Harrison (68 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 3 INT) wasn’t. Both picked up the slack for a banged up linebacking corps with aplomb. Justin Reid (97 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 5 INT) was a flat out stud. He had a monster of a season.

I went with guys in the Reid mold. Dynamic playmakers who could make big tackles and hawk the ball. Texas doesn’t get much credit for things that went right this year, but DeShon Elliott (63 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 6 INT, 9 PBU, 3 fumbles) makes that list. Quin Blanding (121 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 4 INT) probably saw more action that the Virginia coaches would have liked, but he had to be everywhere.


Billy: Johnny Townsend, Florida

Poseur: Michael Dickson, Texas

A tight race and I’m glad we split the vote. Dickson averaged 48.38 yards per punt and Townsend averaged 47.55. However, Townsend had 5 touchbacks to Dickson’s 8, and that was on 9 less attempts. I went with the raw average, but Billy may be right to value the directional skill a bit more.


Billy: Daniel Carlson, Auburn

Poseur: Eddy Pineiro, Florida

Florida’s elite special teams unit again gets a nod. Pineiro had the best field goal rate in the country, going 17 of 18 on the season. However, he did miss two extra points, and one of those against LSU turned out to be pretty important. Only the margin of victory in a one-point loss. Carlson had volume on his side, but he was 21 of 28 on the year. He hit more than nearly anybody, but his accuracy declined this season. However, he doesn’t have a game-losing PAT miss on his ledger.

Kick Returner

Billy: Tony Pollard, Memphis

Poseur: Tony Pollard, Memphis

Tony Pollard averaged 42.42 yards each return. Averaged. He also scored four touchdowns, most in the country. He flat out destroyed teams on the kick return. A slam dunk selection.

Punt Returner

Billy: Dante Pettis, Washington

Poseur: Dante Pettis, Washington

Same. Pettis’ 428 yards was tops in the country, as was his 20.38 return average. He scored four return touchdowns, two more than anyone else in the country. An even bigger slam dunk of a selection than Pollard.