AP All-America Watch: LSU’s next star LB; FAU’s motor man
The Associated Press has been honoring college football’s best with an All-America team since 1925. This season, the AP released its first preseason All-America team and last week a midseason team. The full three-team All-America selections are unveiled in December. The eighth installment of the weekly All-America watch features an LSU linebacker drawing lofty comparisons, a member of Miami’s Turnover Chain gang and the motor of FAU’s high-scoring offense.
Devin White, LB, LSU
The sophomore has developed into the Tigers’ best defensive player and top tackler (89). White wasn’t a starter as a freshman, but played well enough to show big things could be in his future. LSU needed him to become the leader of the defense this year with Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley off to the NFL and he has done just that. He has been credited with 37 more tackles than any other LSU player, including eight stops behind the line of scrimmage.
What they are saying: “The last time I had a sophomore like that was Warren Sapp at Miami.” — LSU coach Ed Orgeron said of White.
Outlook: Linebacker is usually a loaded position when it comes time to select an All-America team. White missed out on the AP’s midseason team, but his strong play is getting noticed more every week and he has three SEC game left to make a lasting impression.
Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami
The seventh-ranked Hurricanes are unbeaten and about to host the biggest game the program has played probably since it joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004. No. 3 Notre Dame comes to South Florida on Saturday. Johnson has been a key cog in Miami’s return to late-season national relevance. The team’s leading tackler got to wear the Turnover Chain twice against Virginia Tech on Saturday with a one-handed interception and forced fumble. That performance earned him recognition as ACC defensive back of the week.
Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
Singling out one Buckeyes defender after last week’s performance at Iowa is not particularly fair but Baker gets stuck with this because he is such a talented player and coach Urban Meyer acknowledged that it was a rough day for his linebackers. Overall, Baker has been solid this season (44 tackles and two sacks), but has yet be a force in big games as he was in 2016.
ON THE LINE
(Former Auburn offensive lineman and SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic identifies an o-lineman worth watching)
Ben Powers, OG, Oklahoma
Rare combination of quickness and strength gives Powers the ability to pull and create openings on the perimeter of defenses. Also, strong at the point of attack and has a knack for finishing well. The Sooners have the No. 1 offense in the country and while quarterback Baker Mayfield is the star, the offensive line with Powers and midseason All-America Orlando Brown at tackle has been dominant.
GROUP OF FIVE STAR
Devin Singletary, RB, FAU
Coach Lane Kiffin’s Owls have been lighting it up and Singletary is at the center of the offensive outburst. The sophomore running back now leads the FBS in touchdowns with 20 and is sixth in rushing at 139.5 yards per game. Nicknamed “Motor,” FAU fans have even started pushing #Motor4Heisman on Twitter.
Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford vs. Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
The Cardinal cornerback is one of the best in the Pac-12 and Pettis is by far the Huskies’ leading receiver (49 catches). Injuries on both sides have put even more focus on these two stars heading into Friday night’s game.
Stanford lost cornerback Alijah Holder to a season-ending leg injury two weeks ago and Washington has been trying to find reliable pass catchers to go with Pettis after injuries to receiver Chico McClatcher and tight end Hunter Bryant. Pettis has more than four times the receptions of Washington’s next healthy receiver. Stanford might want to have Meeks follow Pettis wherever he goes.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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