Presenting ESPN’s college football preseason All-America group
- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Citizen WriterAug 14, 2023, 07:00 AM ET Close College football reporter Joined ESPN.com in 2007
- Graduate of the University of Tennessee
The start of the 2023 college football season is nearly here, which means it’s time to unveil ESPN’s preseason All-America team.The offense must look familiar. Six players were on our 2022 postseason All-America team, consisting of Heisman Trophy-winning USC quarterback Caleb Williams. The defense includes more brand-new faces.What a player has done to this point in his profession definitely matters in choosing this team, but there’s some projection included too based on consultation with college coaches, NFL scouts and coworkers who cover the sport. The objective is to choose who we believe will be the very best players on the field this season.Two-time protecting national champion Georgia leads the way with five choices.
This season Williams will try to do something that has been done only one other time in college football history, which’s win the Heisman Prize for a 2nd time. Williams broke almost every USC quarterback record last season, consisting of overall offense (4,919 backyards) and goals represented (52 ). He’s a dynamic passer both in the pocket and on the move, and is always a threat to run when a play breaks down. A second Heisman would be good, but Williams’ focus is plainly on getting the Trojans back to the College Football Playoff and winning their first national championship because 2004.
On his way to being a prospective Heisman Trophy finalist last season, Corum hurt his left knee in the next-to-last regular-season game and was provided for the year. Corum can’t wait on the 2023 season after passing up a possibility to turn professional. He stated he’s “much better than ever”– his movement, cutting capability, everything. He rushed for 1,463 backyards and 18 touchdowns before the injury a year back and will once again be the centerpiece of the Michigan running game. But he will not be forced to carry too heavy a burden with sidekick Donovan Edwards also returning in the Wolverines’ backfield.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Judkins was marvelous as a freshman in an Ole Miss offense that ranked third nationally in hurrying (256.4 lawns per game). His 1,567 rushing lawns and 16 touchdowns led the SEC, and to put those numbers in perspective, Herschel Walker is the only player in SEC history to rush for more yards as a freshman. Judkins had 8 100-yard hurrying games, including a set of 200-yard performances. He has stated he seems like he will have a better total feel for the game in 2023, which implies 3,000 yards in 2 seasons is not out of the concern.
Harrison has whatever you could desire in a receiver and the production to opt for it. As a sophomore, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Harrison led the FBS with 878 getting backyards and 14 touchdowns against single coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. He had 20 catches of 20 lawns or longer and stated this summer season that Ohio State would have beaten Georgia in the playoff last year had he not been knocked out of the game with a concussion on a play that was initially ruled targeting prior to being overturned. Maybe Harrison will get another shot at the Dawgs this season.
The Michael Penix Jr.-to-Odunze connection is back, which isn’t the best news for the remainder of the Pac-12. Both players thought about turning professional, however they felt like there was unfinished organization at UDub. Odunze had a breakout junior season a year ago in leading the Pac-12 in receiving yards (1,145) and became the first player in school history to have four straight 100-yard receiving games. He has the size (6-3, 210 pounds) and speed to offer any protective back fits, and it’s not going to be easy to watch him with similarly gifted wideout Jalen McMillan on the other side.
Ever since making the trek from California to play for the Dawgs, Bowers has been the essential tight end, whether he’s catching the ball down the middle of the field and outrunning protectors, knocking a protector on his rear end while obstructing inside or on the edge and even taking a handoff and sprinting in for a goal. There’s very little the 6-4, 230-pound Bowers can’t do. He has scored 24 touchdowns in his very first two seasons (20 receiving and 4 rushing) and returns for his junior season as one of the most valuable and flexible players in the sport.
The 6-8, 322-pound Alt is a repeat choice after making ESPN’s 2022 All-America group as a sophomore. He’s whatever you search for in a left deal with and definitely has the bloodlines. His dad, John Alt, is a Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Famer, and the younger Alt is on track to have a long career in the pros himself. A tight end in high school, Alt didn’t enable a sack last season and is similarly dominant in the run game. Transfer quarterback Sam Hartman couldn’t request a better protector of his blind side.
There won’t be any shortage of gifted guards in college football this season, but no one has a more appealing upside than the 6-5, 335-pound Booker with his blend of size, strength and dexterity. He was a Freshman All-American a year earlier and will line up at right guard as a sophomore next to former IMG Academy colleague JC Latham at best tackle. It’s a right side of the Alabama offending line that Latham stated would be “dangerous” in 2023.
Connelly’s CFB previews Costs Connelly breaks down every department in college football as only he can, with forecasts and burning concerns for each team as well as his favorite players. Connelly’s CFB sneak peeks Van Pran was perhaps the most important recruit Georgia secured
this offseason when he chose to go back to school after starting every game at center for the Bulldogs throughout their two national championship seasons. He was at the top of the NFL’s list of center prospects a year ago and will anchor an offensive line that will feature some new faces in 2023. Now in his 4th season in the program, Van Pran is likewise among the greatest leaders on Georgia’s team, and his experience will be especially helpful with the Dawgs breaking in a brand-new quarterback. How’s this for a stat: Beebe hasn’t allowed a sack in his last 803 pass-blocking plays going back to the 2020 season, according to Pro Football Focus. A fifth-year senior, Beebe has actually begun 35 profession games, 14 at left guard a year back. He’s also played left tackle and right deal with during his Kansas State profession and earned Huge 12 offending lineman of the year honors last season for the conference champs. Wherever Beebe lines up on the offensive line, he’s shown to be a difference-maker. Had he stated for the NFL
draft a year ago, Fashanu would have likely been a first-round choice. So it was a coup for Penn State to get him back at his left deal with position. At 6-6 and 319 pounds, Fashanu is a refined pass protector and has outstanding footwork for a player his size. This will be just Fashanu’s second season as a starter, and those around the Penn State program are confident he will be much more dominant as a junior– and that seeks allowing no sacks in 281 pass-blocking snaps last season. All-purpose: Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State Egbuka, a junior receiver, was a finalist
for the Paul Hornung Award last season as the most
versatile player in college football. He captured 74 passes for 1,151 lawns and 10 touchdowns and added a pair of rushing touchdowns. The Buckeyes likewise have used him to return punts and kickoffs. At receiver, they’ve utilized him in the slot, on the outside, and he’s likewise taken handoffs out of the backfield.”If there’s an issue, ‘Where’s Emeka? He’ll assist us fix it, ‘” Ohio State offensive coordinator Brian Hartline said. DEFENSE Florida State is entering this season with the most buzz the program has had in a long period of time, and the Seminoles’defense will be led by the 6-4, 260-pound Verse, who burst onto the scene a year ago after starting his career in the FCS ranks at Albany. Verse ended up with 16.5 takes on for loss, consisting of nine sacks, a year back. With this being his 2nd year in the system, and particularly if he can stay healthy after battling a few injuries last season, Verse has a chance to put up even larger numbers in 2023. Anyone sleeping on Illinois’defense or Newton is not paying attention. Newton has gone from a three-star recruit in high school to among college football’s best interior protective linemen. The 6-2, 295-pound Newton skipped the NFL to return for his fourth season, and Illinois ‘D need to again be salty after leading the nation a year ago in scoring defense( 12.8 points per game). Not only is Newton a menace inside, however fellow protective lineman Keith Randolph is likewise a future pro. The”Law practice, “as coach Bret Bielema calls them, integrated for 27 deals with for loss last season.
Williams is coming off foot surgical treatment that triggered him to miss out on most of spring practice, however the Georgia staff is expecting more of what they saw out of him last season as a real freshman. The 6-5, 265-pound Williams tied Jalen Carter with a team-leading 31 quarterback hurries and played specifically well in the CFP, getting a sack while compared against Ohio State first-round draft pick Paris Johnson in the national semifinal. Williams flashed achievement in connecting for the nationwide lead among true freshmen with six sacks last season, and expect those flashes to become more of a fixture in 2023.
John Korduner/Icon Sportswire With Will Anderson Jr. moving on to the NFL, Turner presumes the role as Alabama’s marquee pass-rusher. Last season was his very first as a full-time starter, and Turner’s speed leaps out whether he’s hurrying the quarterback or ferreting out a ball carrier. His numbers weren’t eye-popping as a sophomore (eight tackles for loss, four sacks), however he had 8.5 sacks as a freshman. New protective organizer Kevin Steele wants to create more unfavorable plays on defense, and the 6-4, 242-pound Turner will play an essential function in that.
Take your pick with Perkins. He can play linebacker or edge rush, and any place he lines up, he’s an impact defender. Perkins was still discovering to play the game a year ago as a true freshman in the SEC and relied mostly on sheer athleticism to lead the group in tackles for loss (13 ), sacks (7.5 ), quarterback rushes (14) and forced fumbles (4 ). Search for Perkins to be more experienced, more consistent and much more disruptive this season, which is bad news for opposing offenses.
The talented front-seven players that have actually come through Georgia on Kirby Smart’s watch are too many to count. The 6-1, 245-pound Dumas-Johnson smothers the run and is likewise adept at getting to the passer from his inside linebacker position. As a real sophomore last season, he led Georgia’s championship game defense with 9 takes on for loss and was third in quarterback rushes (24 ). Dumas-Johnson was a finalist for the Butkus Award as the best linebacker in the country a year back and will be ideal because mix once again in 2023.
Protective planners love linebackers who can do a bit of everything, which’s why Clemson planner Wesley Goodwin is so high on Carter. The 6-1, 225-pound junior played a team-high 832 snaps last season, primarily because he rushes the passer, covers the pass and plays the run all at a high level. Quickly one of college football’s most well-rounded linebackers, Carter teams with Jeremiah Trotter to offer Clemson two of its finest linebackers in the Dabo Swinney period.
McKinstry has actually been starting since the second game of his true freshman season and enters his junior year as the most accomplished cornerback in the country. Currently, some mock drafts have him going as a top-10 choice in the 2024 NFL draft. The 6-1, 195-pound McKinstry has the lockdown abilities to limit groups’ best receivers, and with his experience, he’s the sort of cornerback we’ve seen on some of Nick Saban’s best defenses. McKinstry functions as one of college football’s most hazardous punt returners.
Editor’s Picks 2 Related Among the factors Penn State keeps turning up in the national championship discussion this offseason is that this ought to be James Franklin’s finest defense. There’s a ton of skill on that side of the ball– linebacker Abdul Carter and protective ends Slice Robinson and Dani Dennis-Sutton to name a few. But having a cornerback the quality of King on the back end creates all sorts of alternatives for a defense. The 5-11, 191-pound junior was third nationally last season in passes protected (21) and pass breakups (18) and likewise had three interceptions.
Paired with former luxury recruit James Williams, Kinchens gives the Hurricanes among the more talented safety tandems in the nation. Miami limped to a 5-7 surface in Mario Cristobal’s first season as coach, however Kinchens was a star. He tied for first among Power 5 players with six interceptions, returning among those 99 backyards for a touchdown, and also led the group with 59 takes on. Kinchens has excellent size (205 pounds) and impulses and will be one of the more complete defensive backs in college football this season.
As good as Starks was as a real freshman, he must be even much better as a sophomore with a year’s worth of experience and having an even much better feel for Georgia’s system and the speed of the college game. The 6-1, 205-pound Starks led all Georgia protectors on its championship game group last season with 847 snaps played and ended up third on the team with 68 total tackles while starting in all 15 games. Starks and Javon Bullard will provide the Bulldogs among the very best security duos in the nation, as Bullard is moving from the nickel/star position to safety. Their combined adaptability will be vital to a Georgia defense that has had 13 players prepared over the last two years.
It’s hard to beat excellence, but that’s what Karty was a year ago for the Cardinal in going 18-for-18 on basket attempts, with a long of 61 yards that set a record for a Pac-12 game. As he enters his senior season and 3rd as Stanford’s beginning place-kicker, Karty’s precision will be a plus for a Cardinal offense looking for all the points it can muster after completing 109th nationally in scoring last season. Karty likewise has excellent range. He made all three of his attempts from beyond 50 backyards in 2022 and had 13 makes of 40 lawns or longer.
Entering his 4th season as South Carolina’s punter, Kroeger has averaged 44.2 lawns per punt throughout his career, emerging a year ago as an MVP prospect for the Gamecocks and among the most versatile special teams players in the nation. He averaged 46.1 backyards per punt and had 29 punts downed inside the 20-yard line (3 inside the 5 in a 31-30 win over rival Clemson). However Kroeger is more than simply a punter. He’s tossed 3 profession touchdowns as a trick play passer and also hangs on place kicks.
Any time Griffin has the ball in his hands, the enjoyable starts– unless you’re attempting to tackle him. He led the nation in kickoff return average last season as a junior (32.3 backyards on 19 returns) and has actually taken a kickoff back for a touchdown in each of the last 2 seasons. The 5-10, 180-pound Griffin had kickoff returns of 30 yards or longer in 8 of the Bulldogs’ 13 games last season, and as a receiver, captured 40 passes for 502 yards and 4 touchdowns.