The RoadTripSports.com staff got together last week to vote on its All-America team, and we’re proud to present the team we feel best represents college football during the 2017 season.
Just like the Dream Team we present each year in our College Football America Yearbook, the RoadTripSports.com All-America team is organized like an actual college football program with 85 positions available equating to major college football’s 85-scholarship limit. But unlike the yearbook, we also select an All-America Coaching Staff comprised of a coach of the year along with three additional head coaches, three offensive coordinators and three defensive coordinators.
The RoadTripSports.com All-America Starting Lineup then represents the top 27 players in college football by position with 11 offensive players, 11 defensive players, four starters and an all-purpose specialist.
The RoadTripSports.com Second String is composed of 22 players – 11 offensive and 11 defensive – as most teams don’t carry multiple specialists on scholarship unless they are freshmen in line to replace the current starters.
An additional 10 players – the RoadTripSports.com Reserves – are then selected giving depth to most positions while also adding a fullback and a long snapper to the roster.
Like any college football program, many of the scholarships at any time are held by freshmen, and the final 26 players on our team are represented by the All-America Freshmen with both redshirt and true freshmen represented.
There were so many deserving head coaches this year, and it was impossible to get them all on our team with only four slots. How deep was the coaching pool? Well, consider that coaches like Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst, Florida Atlantic’s Lane Kiffin, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, and – wait for it – Alabama’s Nick Saban failed to make the cut.
In their place, we settled on UCF head coach Scott Frost as the Coach of the Year for leading his Knights to the only unbeaten finish in major college football at 12-0 before leaving to take the Nebraska job. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Georgia’s Kirby Smart also made the cut, and we felt that Bill Clark’s 8-4 finish at UAB in the team’s first season back after a two-year hiatus was one of the best coaching performances you’ll ever see at the major college level.
Swinney’s selection, meanwhile, was his second in three years after being named our 2015 Coach of the Year, and Smart also made the team for the second time after being named one of our three defensive coordinators in 2015 when he was still at Alabama. This time, he made it as a head coach after leading Georgia to an SEC title in just his second season in Athens.
Our 2017 offensive coordinators are all first-time members of the team including Oklahoma’s Bill Bedenbaugh, Clemson’s Tony Elliott and UCF’s Troy Walters. All of our defensive coordinators are first-timers, too, including Alabama’s Jeremy Pruitt who will take over as the head coach at Tennessee next season along with Wisconsin’s Jim Leonhard and Georgia’s Mel Tucker.
All-America Starting Lineup
Seven of our 11 offensive starters were unanimous selections by the RoadTripSports.com staff. That includes Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma at quarterback who trades places this year with Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Mayfield was our Second String quarterback in 2016 while Jackson took home the Heisman hardware and anchored our offensive lineup. This time around its Mayfield in the starter’s role while Jackson is the second-stringer.
Other unanimous selections include running backs Bryce Love of Stanford and Rashaad Penny of San Diego State. It’s the second straight year that San Diego State has placed a running back in the Starting Lineup after Donnel Pumphrey accomplished the feat in 2016.
Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington, the Biletnikoff Award winner as college football’s top receiver, and Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews were also unanimous selections. So were offensive linemen Orlando Brown of Oklahoma and Quenton Nelson of Notre Dame.
The other offensive starters are West Virginia wide receiver David Sills V, Notre Dame offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey, Western Michigan offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor and Ohio State center Billy Price. It’s the second straight year that Western Michigan of the Mid-American Conference has placed a starter on our offensive lineup (wide receiver Corey Davis made the cut in 2016), and it’s also the second straight year that our team’s center hails from Ohio State (Pat Elflein was our 2016 starter).
We also had seven unanimous selections on our All-America Defense led by Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, a member of our 2016 All-America team as a freshman. He’s joined at tackle by another unanimous pick in Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa. At defensive end, NC State’s Bradley Chubb, the Nagurski Trophy winner, gives us three unanimous picks in our front four.
Only one linebacker – Georgia’s Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith – was a unanimous pick, but three-quarters of our secondary also earned the distinction including cornerbacks DeShon Elliott of Texas and Josh Jackson of Iowa as well as Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, the winner of the Jim Thorpe Award as college football’s top defensive back along with the Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year.
The rest of the defensive starting lineup is comprised of TCU defensive end Mat Boesen, Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell, Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel and Virginia safety Quin Blanding. Blanding was also a member of the 2015 Starting Lineup as a sophomore while Jewell was on our Second String a year ago.
Finally, our specialists include Lou Groza Award winner Matt Gay of Utah at kicker and Ray Guy Award winner Michael Dickson of Texas at punter. Gay is the third Utah specialist named to our team in three years including 2015 honorees Andy Phillips at kicker and Tom Hackett at punter.
The return specialists include Tony Pollard of Memphis at kick returner and punt return specialist Dante Pettis of Washington. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is our all-purpose specialist after rolling up more than 400 yards in three different categories (rushing, receiving and kick returns).
The rest of the RoadTripSports.com All-America Team can be found at the following links:
- RoadTripSports.com FCS and Small College All-America Teams - January 1, 2019
- The RoadTripSports.com All-America Team - December 9, 2018
- The RoadTripSports.com Defense Starting Lineup - December 8, 2018
- The RoadTripSports.com All-America Offense Starting Lineup - December 8, 2018
- The RoadTripSports.com All-America Coaching Staff - December 8, 2018
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