Midseason All-America teams are a good way to spotlight some great players that won’t necessarily make it here come season’s end. Some of my choices are established national names, while others have just begun to break out.
QB: Lamar Jackson, Louisville
This was the easiest decision on the list. Jackson is averaging 439.7 yards and five touchdowns per game. Washington QB Jake Browning is next in line.
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RB: Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State
The nation’s rushing leader at 185.2 yards per game, Pumphrey’s gained 169 more yards than the next-closest running back while playing one fewer game.
RB: Dalvin Cook, Florida State
It’s a tough call here between Cook, Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols and BYU’s Jamaal Williams. Cook averages slightly more yards per game (179.4).
USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
WR: Chad Hansen, Cal
One of the season’s biggest surprise players, Hansen had no fewer than 98 yards in each of his first five games before injuring his ankle in Week 6.
WR: Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
There were quite a few big-number candidates here – ECU’s Zay Jones has 84 catches (!) in six games – but Westbrook has been dominant in Big 12 play.
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TE: Evan Engram, Ole Miss
It’s hard to truly judge tight ends without knowing their blocking performances, but Engram leads all in receiving production with 37 catches for 590 yards.
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C Pat Elflein, Ohio State; OL Taylor Moton, Western Michigan; OL Cody O’Connell, Washington State; OL Trey Adams, Washington; OL Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin.
When it comes to this group, I defer to people who evaluate O-linemen for a living. Pro Football Focus has Moton as its highest-graded tackle, and O’Connell its top-rated guard. Elflein is the Buckeyes’ most important player not named J.T. Barrett, while Adams and Ramczyk have keyed their teams’ surprising starts.
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DL: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
The nation’s most talented defensive lineman has lived up to the hype yet again. PFF has him as its highest-graded pass-rusher so far this season.
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DL: Derek Barnett, Tennessee
Barnett has been even more productive than Garrett, with six sacks and 11.5 TFLs. His game-changing plays helped the Vols make remarkable comebacks.
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DL: Ejuan Price, Pittsburgh
The senior defensive end leads the nation in sacks (nine) and ranks second in tackles for loss (13). He’s also forced three fumbles.
DL: Christian Wilkins, Clemson
The versatile 310-pound end/tackle has been Clemson’s top pass-rusher while also running on a fake punt, catching a touchdown pass and blocking a field goal.
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LB: Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Cunningham has an SEC-best 81 tackles and 13 TFLs. His late fourth-and-1 stop against Georgia sealed Vandy’s biggest win of the Derek Mason era.
LB: Reuben Foster, Alabama
The toughest question with Alabama was picking which linebacker, leading tackler Foster (41) or pass-rusher Tim Williams (4.5 sacks, 7.5 TFLs).
LB: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
While Peppers is known more for his kick returns and offensive cameos, he’s still an exceptional defensive player. He leads the Wolverines with 10.5 TFLs.
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CB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Once again, the sophomore is making big plays in pass coverage, returning three interceptions for a combined 114 yards, notching five PBUs and a forced fumble.
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S: Malik Hooker, Ohio State
Hooker is a high-impact playmaker. He’s had four interceptions, totaling 117 return yards, and helped shut down Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield among others.
S: D'Cota Dixon, Wisconsin
Whenever you watch a Badgers game, this guy is everywhere, starting from his game-sealing pick against LSU. It’s tough leaving off Washington’s Budda Baker.
CB: Desmond King, Iowa
Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis and Florida’s Teez Tabor merited consideration, but last year’s Thorpe Award winner has been a lockdown cover guy once again.
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K: Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State
This choice was easy. Not only is the senior 19-of-20 on field goal tries (the most makes nationally), but he made three from 50-plus yards in one game.
P: Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah
Somehow, Utah has cornered the market on elite Australian punters. Tom Hackett’s successor is leading the country with a 49.1-yards-per punt average.
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Returns: Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh
Not many guys excel at both kickoff and punt returns, but Henderson is No. 2 nationally in KOs (including two touchdowns) and No. 14 in punt returns.
AP: Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
Henderson leads the nation in receiving yards per game (205.3) while also ranking 25th in kick returns (26.3 yards per kick). He edges OU’s Joe Mixon.