Star power: The On3 midseason All-America team

Star power: The On3 midseason All-America team

Mike Huguenin13 days
Article written by:Mike HugueninMike Huguenin

MikeHuguenin

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(All photos from Getty Images)

We’re heading into Week 7, so it’s a good time to put together a midseason All-America team.

This has been a wild season, and it’s reflected in our midseason team; it’s fair to say that at least a third of the team is surprising when considering how little preseason hype those guys received. But they’re getting hyped now because of what they’ve done in the first half of the season.

Here is the team.

MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICA OFFENSE

THE BACKFIELD
QB
Kenny Pickett, Pitt
RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
The buzz: Pickett has been a revelation for the Panthers; he’s a fourth-year starter who, midway through the season, already has thrown more TD passes (19) than in any full season (his high had been 13). He also has increased his completion percentage by nearly 12 points over what it had been for his career (72.0 to 60.4) and cut way down on his picks (he had thrown 25 entering the season but has just one). He’s averaging 346.2 passing yards per game, which is third-best for a Power 5 quarterback. Robinson did have a ton of hype coming into the season … and is living up to it. He has rushed for 789 yards and eight TDs, and also has two receiving touchdowns. He is averaging 6.3 yards per rush, which is fourth-best among backs with at least 100 carries. The leader in the yards-per-rush category is Walker (7.1), the Wake Forest transfer who has been magnificent for the unbeaten Spartans. He leads the nation with 913 yards (124 more than anyone else nationally) and with a 152.2 yards per game average. Walker has nine rushing TDs and leads the nation in rushes of at least 10 yards (26), at least 20 (10) and at least 70 (two).

THE RECEIVERS
WR
Kayshon Boutte, LSU
WR Drake London, USC
TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
The buzz: Boutte was lost for the season in this past Saturday’s loss to Kentucky, but he put up big numbers before being injured. He is tied for the national lead with nine TD receptions, and had 38 catches for 508 yards. His production was even more notable because of LSU’s lack of a running game. London is having a monster season; he leads the nation in receptions (64) and receiving yards (832), and has five TD receptions for the Trojans. He has had at least 130 yards in five of USC’s six games (including three with at least 160) and has had double-digit receptions four times. Mayer is the Irish’s leading receiver by a wide margin despite missing a game; he has 32 receptions for 360 yards and three TDs, and has shown an affinity for the big catch. He also plays in an offense that has had to use three quarterbacks, and none of the three is anything close to an “elite” passer.

THE LINE
L
Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
L Darian Kinnard, Kentucky
L Evan Neal, Alabama
L Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State
C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
The buzz: Linderbaum is the anchor of Iowa’s still-developing line and draws raves from his coaches, opposing coaches and NFL scouts. The other four linemen on this list are tackles, so we admit that we’re not sure we could trot this quintet out for a game. Still, each of the four tackles is playing at a high level. Kinnard is an absolute road-grader in the running game and has done a solid job in pass protection. Neal moved from right tackle to the left side this season, and the Tide has been so much better when it runs left than when it runs right. As with Neal, Petit-Frere finally is playing left tackle after lining up on the right side and has had no issues for the Buckeyes’ high-powered attack. Ekwonu’s nickname is “Ickey,” but his play has been anything but. His parents are from Nigeria and his full first name is Ikemefuna, which translated means “my effort will not be in vain.” He’s a big reason NCSU is 4-1 and in good shape to win the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICA DEFENSE

THE LINE
E
Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
T Jordan Davis, Georgia
E Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
The buzz: Ebiketie, a transfer from Temple, has become a force for the Nittany Lions; he has nine tackles for loss, four sacks, four quarterback hurries, a blocked field goal and 31 tackles. Georgia is deep up front, but Davis, a 6-foot-6, 330-pounder, has been an unmovable object in the middle of the line; he’s one of the biggest reasons (literally and figuratively) Georgia has allowed just one rushing TD this season. Hutchinson has benefited from the coordinator change at Michigan, as he is able to make more plays in the new scheme; he has 5.5 sacks, which ranks fourth among Power 5 players. Hutchinson also has 23 tackles, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.

THE LINEBACKERS
EDGE
Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
LB Jack Campbell, Iowa
LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
The buzz: Anderson is second nationally with 11 tackles for loss, a figure that leads the Power 5 ranks by 1.5; he also has three sacks and four quarterback hurries. Campbell stands out for a dominant Hawkeyes defense; he leads Iowa with 55 tackles and also has four pass breakups and a fumble return for a TD. Dean’s individual stats don’t wow anyone (he has 23 tackles), but one reason for that is that the Bulldogs’ defense gets on and off the field quick because they shut down opposing offenses. He is an emotional and physical leader for that unit. Lloyd is one of the more underrated players nationally; he has 53 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks and two interceptions.

THE SECONDARY
CB
Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
CB Riley Moss, Iowa
S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
S Verone McKinley III, Oregon
The buzz: Gardner is a gifted cover corner who seems destined to go in the first round; he has two interceptions and has helped the Bearcats hold opposing quarterbacks to a 48.0 completion percentage, the lowest in the nation. Moss is tied for the national lead with four picks, and he has taken two back for TDs; he also has three pass breakups for a defense that leads the nation with 16 interceptions. Hamilton has three interceptions, 32 tackles and four pass breakups, and covers a ton of ground on the back end of the Irish defense. McKinley also is tied for the national lead with four picks, including one of C.J. Stroud in the Ducks’ upset of Ohio State. McKinley also is solid in run support and has 23 tackles.

MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICA SPECIAL TEAMS

K Gabe Brkic, Oklahoma
P Matt Araiza, San Diego State
R Marcus Jones, Houston

The buzz: Brkic has a huge leg and already has kicked four field goals of 50-plus yards; he also is 15-of-17 overall, leading the nation in both makes and attempts. Araiza punts a lot — 6.6 times per game, which is sixth-most nationally — and he booms his attempts: He is averaging a staggering 54.1 yards per punt. Only one punter in NCAA history has averaged 50 yards per punt in a season: Texas A&M’s Braden Mann averaged 51.0 yards per attempt in 2018. He punted 50 times that season; Araiza is on a pace to punt to almost 80 times. Jones starts at corner, plays some wide receiver and returns punts; he’s really good at all three and already has two punt-return touchdowns this season to go with his 17.3-yard average on 14 returns.