Mandel’s All-America teams: Which outstanding RB didn’t make the cut?

From left, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette all had terrific seasons. Unfortunately, there's room for only four of them.

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The problem with All-America teams is there’s never enough room to honor everyone you would have liked. And anyone you leave off, that school’s fans accuse you of disrespecting him. Believe me, I have ample respect for your favorite star player — it’s just that I can’t have seven first-team linebackers.

The position where that dilemma proved most vexing this season is at running back, where there are five guys — Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott, LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Alabama’s Derrick Henry and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey — whom everyone would presume to be All-Americans. Unfortunately, I have only four spots on the first or second team. Elliott, who would likely be a first-teamer almost any other year, was the odd man out. My colleague Bruce Feldman agrees.

I also assumed going in I’d have Elliott’s teammate, Joey Bosa, on the first team, because he’s widely considered the best defensive end in the country. But I could not justify giving him one of those two coveted spots at the expense of either the national sack leader (Penn State’s Carl Nassib) and/or tackles-for-loss leader (Clemson’s Shaq Lawson) when Bosa himself notched just five sacks.

At least Bosa still found a home on the second team. Some big names (and future NFL multimillionaires) missed the cut altogether. That’s not because I hate their teams or because they had bad seasons. They, in fact, had great seasons. There were just others who had slightly better ones.

FIRST TEAM

POSITION PLAYER TEAM
QB Deshaun Watson Clemson
RB Derrick Henry Alabama
RB Christian McCaffrey Stanford
WR Corey Coleman Baylor
WR Josh Doctson TCU
TE Hunter Henry Arkansas
T Taylor Decker Ohio State
G Joshua Garnett Stanford
Jack Allen Michigan State
G Jordan Walsh Iowa
Spencer Drango Baylor
DE Shaq Lawson Clemson

DT

Malik McDowell Michigan State
DT A’Shawn Robinson Alabama
DE Carl Nassib Penn State
LB Kentrell Brothers Missouri
LB Tyler Matakevich Temple
LB Jaylon Smith Notre Dame
CB  Desmond King Iowa
S Jeremy Cash Duke
Jayron Kearse Clemson
CB Shawun Lurry NIU
K Ka’imi Fairbairn UCLA
P Tom Hackett Utah
AP Adoree Jackson USC
Ret. Morgan Burns Kansas State

SECOND TEAM

POSITION PLAYER TEAM
QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma

RB

Dalvin Cook Florida State
RB Leonard Fournette LSU
WR Will Fuller Notre Dame
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster USC
TE Jake Butt Michigan
OL Vadal Alexander LSU
OL Nila Kasitati Oklahoma
OL Ryan Kelly Alabama
OL Ronnie Stanley Notre Dame
OL Sebastian Tretola Arkansas
DL Joey Bosa Ohio State
DL DeForest Buckner Oregon
DL Myles Garrett Texas A&M
DL Emmanuel Ogbah Oklahoma State
LB Blake Martinez Stanford
LB Reggie Ragland Alabama
LB Anthony Walker Northwestern
DB  Vonn Bell Ohio State
DB William Jackson III Houston
DB Jourdan Lewis Michigan

DB

Jalen Tabor Florida
K Daniel Carlson Auburn
P Drew Kaser Texas A&M

AP

Jabrill Peppers Michigan
Ret.  Evan Berry Tennessee