AP All-America Watch: TD-scoring d-tackle; Gophers star WR
The Associated Press has been honoring college football’s best with an All-America team since 1925. The full three-team AP All-America selections will be unveiled in December. The sixth All-America watch of the season features Clemson’s touchdown-scoring defensive tackle, the receiver carrying Minnesota’s offense and a matchup of midseason All-Americans in Saturday’s biggest game.
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The senior passed on a chance to be a first-round pick in the last NFL draft and returned for one more season of fun in college. Fun for him, not opposing offenses. Wilkins is coming off one of his best games of the season, per Pro Football Focus , which included a 1-yard touchdown run from the nimble 315-pounder.
Wilkins has 6½ tackles for loss, including two sacks, and eight quarterback pressures on the season for the second-ranked Tigers’ stingy defense.
What they are saying: “It’s hard because you’re trying to yell and get mad at practice and then he comes up and pinches you on the booty.” — Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Outlook: Only a loaded group of defensive tackles, including teammate Dexter Lawrence, will keep Wilkins off the All-America team.
Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota
The junior wide receiver is the best offensive threat on a team that has had to juggle quarterbacks and try to replace its best running back. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Johnson has six straight 100-yard receiving games after burning Indiana for 102 on five catches with two touchdowns last week.
For the season, he leads the Big Ten with 100.9 yards receiving per game and is tied for the lead with eight TD catches.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Taylor is still the leading rusher in the country but he is coming off his worst game of the season. The sophomore, who had broken 100 yards rushing in each of his first seven games, went for 46 on 11 carries against Northwestern. He also lost two fumbles, giving him 10 of those over his mostly excellent two seasons with the Badgers. Taylor’s ball security seemed to be trending in the right direction. He had not fumbled in five games, but on a wet day it re-appeared and cost Wisconsin.
ON THE LINE
(ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic, a former guard at Auburn, identifies an offensive lineman playing at an All-America level)
Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State
Played guard and tackle during his first two seasons at Mississippi State before settling in as one of the best centers in the Southeastern Conference over the last two seasons.
“Jenkins has great power at the point of attack, with legitimate quickness to match. He can consistently get movement in double teams while being able to reach a nose guard on perimeter plays. Helped State get back on track offensively versus a tough Texas A&M front.” — Cubelic.
GROUP OF FIVE STAR
Juwan Foggie, LB, Charlotte
The senior wide receiver-turned-linebacker leads the nation in interceptions with six, including two he has returned for touchdowns. Foggie’s two picks and 79-yard touchdown return last week helped the 49ers edge Southern Mississippi.
Foggie, 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, moved from receiver to linebacker after the 2016 season and became one of Charlotte’s best defensive players. This year, he is the third leading tackler (40) on Conference USA’s top run defense.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama vs. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU.
Two sophomores who made the preseason All-America team should see plenty of each other in one of the biggest games of the season. Jeudy has been the country’s most explosive deep threat, with 31 catches for 10 touchdowns and a 25.06 -yard average. Williams, a third-team All-America last year, has two interceptions and four passes defended. Teams tend to look away from the rangy, 6-foot-3 cornerback. With quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama has not shied away from anyone this season.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://www.podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast