Nov. 30, 2006
WACO, Texas - Senior offensive tackle Arron Sears became the 69th Volunteer to earn All-America honors as he was named to the American Football Coaches Association 2006 All-America team. The Russellville, Ala., native has made 31 consecutive starts and anchors an offensive line that has kept quarterbacks clean and allowed Tennessee to become second-most prolific passing team in the Southeastern Conference. He has missed just one start since freshman campaign, starting at every position on the line except center.
The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions. What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best the coaches themselves.
The field general for the No. 1 team in the country, Troy Smith is joined in the backfield by runningbacks Steve Slaton of West Virginia and Marshawn Lynch of California.
Smith directed a Buckeye offense that averaged 409 yards per game in total offense. In 12 games this season Smith completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,507 yards and 30 touchdowns as the Buckeyes rolled through the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record to clinch a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game in January. Smith's 30 touchdown passes this season is a new Ohio State single-season record.
Steve Slaton has rushed for 1,621 yards for the Mountaineers this season and currently ranks No. 2 nationally in yards per game with an average of 147.4 yards per game. Cal's Lynch also ranks among the national leaders in rushing with an average 107.1 yards per game for the Golden Bears.
Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, UTEP's Johnnie Lee Higgins Jr. and Arizona State's Zach Miller make up this year's All-America receiving corps.
Johnson, the lone returnee from the 2005 AFCA All-America Team is one of the nation's most explosive and acrobatic receivers. The Tech junior has caught 13 touchdown passes and is averaging 15.2 yards per catch. Higgins is No. 2 in receiving yards this season with an average of 109.2 yards per game and caught 13 touchdown passes for the Miners. Miller has been a key component of the Sun Devil offense, leading ASU in receiving and catching three touchdown passes.
The offensive line features Wisconsin's Joe Thomas, Texas' Justin Blalock, West Virginia's Dan Mozes, Michigan's Jake Long and Tennessee's Arron Sears.
Thomas has helped clear the way for a Wisconsin offense that is averaging 387.5 yards and 30.2 points per game this season. Blalock is the top blocker on a Longhorn offensive line that helped Texas average nearly 400 yards in total offense per game. Mozes centers an offensive line that clears the way for a Mountaineer attack averaging 465 yards a game. Long headlines an offensive line that has Michigan ranked among the nation s rushing leaders. Sears is the key bloker for one of the nation's top pass offenses and has posted 71 intimidation blocks for the Vols.
Michigan's LaMarr Woodley headlines the defense this year. He is joined by Clemson's Gaines Adams, Ohio State's Quinn Pitcock and LSU's Glen Dorsey.
Woodley finished the regular season with 15.5 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles for the Wolverines. Adams posted 14.5 TFLs and 10.5 sacks to go along with 24 quarterback pressures. Pitcock anchors a Buckeye defensive front that helped OSU hold its opponents to 93 yards rushing per game. Dorsey spearheads an LSU defense that is limiting opponents to just 12.5 points per game.
The linebacking corps features Rufus Alexander of Oklahoma and Buster Davis of Florida State.
Alexander has posted 95 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles for the Sooners as Oklahoma is limiting its opponents to just 99 yards per game on the ground this season. Davis topped the century mark in total tackles, finishing the regular season with 102 stops for the Seminoles.
The defensive backs named to this year's AFCA Coaches All-America Team are LaRon Landry of LSU, Daymeion Hughes of California, Leon Hall of Michigan, Eric Weddle of Utah and Dwight Lowery of San Jose State.
Landry led LSU in tackles this season and is one of the most feared pass defenders in the Southeastern Conference. Hughes is Cal s second-leading tackler and leads the team with eight interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. Hall finished the regular season with 41 tackles, three interceptions and 15 pass break-ups for Michigan. Weddle ended the year with 58 tackles and six interceptions for the Utes. In his first year at San Jose State, Lowery finished among the national leaders in interceptions per game with eight picks in 11 contests to date.
The specialists on this year s AFCA Coaches All-America Team are all-purpose player Darren McFadden of Arkansas, punter Daniel Sepulveda of Baylor and placekicker Justin Medlock of UCLA.
McFadden is a versatile offensive threat for the Razorbacks. The sophomore has rushed for 1,485 yards, caught nine passes for 122 yards and scored at least one touchdown rushing, receiving, passing and as a kick returner. Sepulveda averaged 46.8 yards per punt in 66 attempts for the Bears to lead the nation in punting average. Medlock leads the nation in field goals per game, converting 24 of 28 attempts for the Bruins with one game to go.
|2006 AFCA Coaches All-America Team|
|Pos.||Name||Ht.||Wt.||Cl.||School||Coach||Hometown (High School)|
|WR||Calvin Johnson*||6-5||235||Jr.||Ga. Tech||Chan Gailey||Tyrone, Ga. (Sandy Creek)|
|WR||Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr.||6-0||180||Sr.||UTEP||Mike Price||Sweeny, Texas (Sweeny)|
|TE||Zach Miller||6-5||260||Jr.||Ariz. State||Dirk Koetter||Phoenix, Ariz. (Desert Vista)|
|OL||Joe Thomas||6-8||313||Sr.||Wisconsin||Bret Bielema||Brookfield, Wisc. (Central)|
|OL||Justin Blalock||6-4||335||Sr.||Texas||Mack Brown||Plano, Texas (East)|
|C||Dan Mozes||6-4||290||Sr.||W. Virginia||Rich Rodriguez||Washington, Pa. (Washington)|
|OL||Jake Long||6-7||313||Sr.||Michigan||Lloyd Carr||Lapeer, Mich. (East)|
|OL||Arron Sears||6-4||320||Sr.||Tennessee||Phillip Fulmer||Russellville, Ala. (Russellville)|
|QB||Troy Smith||6-1||215||Jr.||Ohio State||Jim Tressel||Cleveland, Ohio (Glenville)|
|RB||Steve Slaton||5-10||195||So.||W. Virginia||Rich Rodriguez||Levittown, Pa. (Conwell-Egan)|
|RB||Marshawn Lynch||5-11||217||Jr.||California||Jeff Tedford||Oakland, Calif. (Tech)|
|Pos.||Name||Ht.||Wt.||Cl.||School||Coach||Hometown (High School)|
|DL||LaMarr Woodley||6-2||269||Sr.||Michigan||Lloyd Carr||Saginaw, Mich. (Saginaw)|
|DL||Gaines Adams||6-5||265||Sr.||Clemson||Tommy Bowden||Greenwood, S.C. (Cambridge)|
|DL||Quinn Pitcock||6-3||295||Sr.||Ohio State||Jim Tressel||Piqua, Ohio (Piqua)|
|DL||Glenn Dorsey||6-2||299||Jr.||LSU||Les Miles||Gonzales, La. (East Ascension)|
|LB||Rufus Alexander||6-1||230||Sr.||Oklahoma||Bob Stoops||Baton Rouge, La. (Christian Life Academy)|
|LB||Buster Davis||5-11||246||Sr.||Fla. State||Bobby Bowden||Daytona Beach, Fla. (Mainland)|
|DB||LaRon Landry||6-2||202||Sr.||LSU||Les Miles||Ama, La. (Hahnville)|
|DB||Daymeion Hughes||6-0||188||Sr.||California||Jeff Tedford||Los Angeles, Calif. (Crenshaw)|
|DB||Leon Hall||5-11||193||Sr.||Michigan||Lloyd Carr||Vista, Calif. (Vista)|
|DB||Eric Weddle||6-0||200||Sr.||Utah||Kyle Whittingham||Alta Loma, Calif. (Alta Loma)|
|DB||Dwight Lowery||6-1||185||Jr.||San Jose State||Dick Tomey||Santa Cruz, Calif. (Soquel)|
|Pos.||Name||Ht.||Wt.||Cl.||School||Coach||Hometown (High School)|
|P||Daniel Sepulveda||6-3||230||Sr.||Baylor||Guy Morriss||Dallas, Texas (Highland Park)|
|PK||Justin Medlock||6-0||197||Sr.||UCLA||Karl Dorrell||Fremont, Calif. (San Jose Mission)|
|AP||Darren McFadden||6-2||212||So.||Arkansas||Houston Nutt||Little Rock, Ark. (Pulaski Oak Grove)|
The AFCA has selected an All-America team every year since 1945.
The five teams now chosen for each AFCA division evolved from a single 11-player squad in 1945. From 1945 until 1967, only one team was chosen. From 1967 through 1971, two teams, University Division and College Division, were selected. In 1972, the College Division was split into College I and College II. In 1979, the University Division was split into two teams Division I-A and Division I-AA. In 1996 the College I and College II teams were renamed Division II and Division III respectively. The AFCA is selecting an NAIA-only team for the first time this year.
From 1965-81, a 22-player (11 offensive, 11 defensive) team was chosen. In 1982, a punter and placekicker were added to the team. In 1997 a return specialist was added, giving us the current 25-player team.
The return specialist position has been replaced by an all-purpose player this season.
The AFCA s Division I-A All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA s nine I-A districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee.
The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts, that information, along with ballots submitted by I-A head coaches, are used to select the AFCA I-A Coaches All-America Team.
Top Team: Oklahoma has had the most players named to the AFCA Coaches All-America Team. The Sooners have been represented 58 times by 50 players on the AFCA team. They are followed by Notre Dame (55/48); Southern California (52/45); Ohio State (52/39); Michigan (53/48); Nebraska (48/43) and Texas (41/35).
The Big 12 boasts the most AFCA Coaches All-America Team representatives among current conference members with 233, just ahead of the Big 10 at 231 representatives. Following those two are the Southeastern Conference (213), the Pac-10 (163), Atlantic Coast (152), Big East (61), Western Athletic (58), Conference USA (50), Mountain West (49), Sun Belt (40) and Mid-American (28) (Totals include school All-America selections in all divisions).
The 2006 conference-by-conference breakdown: Big 10: 6; Pac-10: 4; SEC: 4; ACC: 3 players; Big 12: 3; Big East: 2; Conference USA: 1; MountainWest, 1; Western Athletic: 1.
Class Distinction: The 2006 AFCA Coaches All-America Team is made up of 17 seniors, six juniors and two sophomores.
First Time Schools: Dwight Lowery is the first player from San Jose State to earn AFCA All-America honors.
Repeat After Me: Ohio State has the most players who have been repeat selections (12 players). The Buckeyes are followed by Oklahoma (9); Notre Dame (7); Southern California (7); Texas (6); Michigan (5) and Nebraska (5).
Four For Four: No player has earned AFCA I-A All-America honors four times, however Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) running back Johnny Bailey did earn Coaches All-America honors four straight years (1986-87-88-89) in AFCA College Division I (now AFCA Division II).
Three-Timer: Georgia's Herschel Walker is the only three-time AFCA I-A Coaches All-American (1980-81-82) in the 57-year history of the team.
Two-Timers: A total of 121 players have earned AFCA I-A Coaches All-America Team honors two or more times.
Double Duos: Teammates have now earned back-to-back Coaches All-America honors in the same seasons seven times. USC's Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush (2004 and 2005) join Army's Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard (1945 and 1946); Notre Dame's George Connor and Johnny Lujack (1946 and 1947); Michigan State's Bubba Smith and George Webster (1966 and 1967); Ohio State's Jack Tatum and Jim Stillwagon (1969 and 1970); Notre Dame's Ken MacAfee and Ross Browner (1976 and 1977) and Colorado's Joe Garten and Alfred Williams (1989 and 1990).
One Player, Two Schools: Punter Mark Bounds is the only player to earn Coaches All-America honors at two different schools. He was named to the AFCA College Division I team in 1990 while playing for West Texas A&M. He transferred to Texas Tech after West Texas dropped football and earned I-A All-America honors as a Red Raider in 1991.
Consecutive Years: Notre Dame holds the record for consecutive years with at least one player on the AFCA I-A Coaches All-America Team at 19 seasons (1963-1981). Nebraska had at least one player 12 straight seasons (1977-1989). Michigan (1969-1979), Oklahoma (1971-1981), Southern California (1972-82) and Miami (1984-1994) are next with 11 straight seasons. Pittsburgh placed one player on the AFCA team for 10 straight seasons from 1975-1984.
Super Six: Oklahoma's six selections (Jammal Brown, OL; Jason White, QB; Tommie Harris, DL; Teddy Lehman, LB, Derrick Strait, DB; Antonio Perkins, RS) in 2003 are the most players from one school on the AFCA Coaches All-America Team.
Quad Squads: Six teams have placed four players on the AFCA All-America Team: 1945 Army: T-DeWitt Coulter, G-John Green, B-Glenn Davis, B-Doc Blanchard; 1966 Notre Dame: LB-Jim Lynch, FB-Nick Eddy, DT-Pete Duranko, OG-Tom Regner; 1967 Southern California: OT-Ron Yary, LB-Adrian Young, E-Tim Rossovich, HB-O.J. Simpson; 1990 Notre Dame: DB-Todd Lyght, DL-Chris Zorich, LB-Mike Stonebreaker, WR-Raghib Ismail; 1999 Florida State: WR-Peter Warrick, OL-Jason Whitaker, DL-Corey Simon; PK-Sebastian Janikowski; 2005 USC: WR- Dwayne Jarrett, OL- Taitusi Lutui, QB- Matt Leinart, RB- Reggie Bush.
Army's four All-Americans in 1945 may be the most impressive showing of the above teams when you take into account the AFCA only selected an 11-player team at that time.
For more information on the AFCA and its programs, log on to the AFCA s website at www.afca.com.