The College Football Playoff selection committee chose Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame to compete for the National Championship and the most recent Amway Coaches poll tells a similar story.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and wide receiver DeVonta Smith were the easiest picks for the USA TODAY Sports 2020 All-America teams, which include 14 players from the four teams selected for this year’s College Football Playoff.
No team had more selections than Alabama, which had seven players across the two teams after completing one of the program’s most dominant regular seasons under coach Nick Saban.
Settling on the second-team quarterback meant picking between Florida senior Kyle Trask and Clemson junior Trevor Lawrence. Playing two additional games and leading Lawrence in yards, touchdowns, completion percentage and efficiency rating gave Trask the edge.
The All-America honors included 13 players from the Group of Five. Seven were on the first team, including Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson and Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins.
More: Heisman Watch: Alabama teammates Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith tied in final poll
QB: Mac Jones, Alabama (Jr.)
Jones leads the Bowl Subdivision in completion percentage (76.5%) and yards per attempt (11.4) and is on pace to set a single-season record in efficiency rating (202.3).
RB: Jaret Patterson, Buffalo (Jr.)
RB: Breece Hall, Iowa State (So.)
Patterson leads the FBS in rushing yards per game (178.7) and had 409 yards and eight touchdowns in the Bulls’ win against Kent State. Hall (1,436 yards) helped lead Iowa State to one of the best seasons in school history.
WR: DeVonta Smith, Alabama (Sr.)
WR: Jaelon Darden, North Texas (Sr.)
TE: Kyle Pitts, Florida (Jr.)
SEC coaches chose Smith as the league’s offensive player of the year over Jones and Trask, which might say something about his Heisman Trophy odds. Darden led the FBS in touchdown receptions (19) and ranked third in yards per game. Few tight ends in recent history impacted games quite like Pitts (43 catches for 770 yards and 12 scores).
OL: Brady Christensen, Brigham Young (Jr.)
OL: Cain Madden, Marshall (Sr.)
OL: Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa (So.)
OL: Aaron Banks, Notre Dame (Sr.)
OL: Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (Sr.)
Christensen was the largely unsung star of the nation’s fourth-best offense in yards per play. Madden didn’t allow a sack for the Conference USA East division champs. It’s hard to say what’s more impressive about Linderbaum: that he’s only a sophomore or that he was playing defensive tackle as recently as 2018. Banks is the representative from Notre Dame’s outstanding front, edging out teammate Liam Eichenberg (a second-team pick). Leatherwood is one of the Crimson Tide’s most decorated linemen of the Saban era.
DL: Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh (Sr.)
DL: Daviyon Nixon, Iowa (Jr.)
DL: Darius Stills, West Virginia (Sr.)
DL: Jaelan Phillips, Miami (Jr.)
Weaver bounced back from a knee injury that cost him the 2019 season to lead the ACC in sacks per game. Nixon (13.5 tackles for loss) came off the radar and exploded onto the scene in the Big Ten as the league’s most disruptive down lineman. With Stills up front, WVU allowed 100 fewer yards per game than in 2019 and had the best defense in the Big 12. A transfer from UCLA, Phillips (15.5 tackles for loss) met his five-star potential in his one season with the Hurricanes.
LB: Zaven Collins, Tulsa (Jr.)
LB: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame (Sr.)
LB: Mike Rose, Iowa State (Jr.)
You can make the case for Collins (53 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 4 sacks) as the best player in the country in 2020 regardless of position. Owusu-Koramoah is the third Notre Dame linebacker in nine years to win the Butkus Award. A three-time all-league pick and this season’s defensive player of the year in the Big 12, Rose (90 tackles) is one of the best examples of Iowa State’s elite talent evaluation and development.
CB: Patrick Surtain II, Alabama (Jr.)
CB: Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati (So).
S: Brandon Joseph, Northwestern (RS Fr.)
S: Talanoa Hufanga, Southern California (Jr.)
Most teams have a followed a simple rule: Don’t throw at Surtain. (For good reason.) Gardner has developed into one of the game-changing talents in the Group of Five after somehow slipping through the recruiting cracks as a three-star prospect coming out of Detroit. The only freshman on the first or second team, Joseph led the top-ranked pass defense in the FBS with six interceptions and had one of the top plays of the year in the Big Ten championship game. Hufanga led USC in tackles (62) and interceptions (four) and became the eighth player in program history to be named Pac-12 defensive player of the year.
K: Cade York, LSU (So.)
P: Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech (Sr.)
KR: Avery Williams, Boise State (Sr.)
York was 18-of-21 on field goals and made one of the memorable plays of the year with his late kick to beat Florida. Harvin leads the FBS and set the ACC single-season record in yards per punt (48.0). Williams had two kickoff return and two punt return touchdowns in just seven games and is tied for the FBS career record with nine punt return scores. SECOND TEAM
QB: Kyle Trask, Florida (Sr.)
RB: Najee Harris, Alabama (Sr.)
RB: Travis Etienne, Clemson (Sr.)
WR: Elijah Moore, Mississippi (Jr.)
WR: Jonathan Adams, Jr., Arkansas State (Sr.)
TE: Charlie Kolar, Iowa State (Jr.)
OL: Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame (Sr.)
OL: Wyatt Davis, Ohio State (Jr.)
OL: Landon Dickerson, Alabama (Sr.)
OL: Kendrick Green, Illinois (Jr.)
OL: Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech (Jr.)
DL: Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina (Sr.)
DL: Alim McNeill, N.C. State (Jr.)
DL: Christian Barmore, Alabama (So.)
DL: Cade Hall, San Jose State (Jr.)
LB: Joseph Ossai, Texas (Jr.)
LB: Jon Rhattigan, Army (Sr.)
LB: Justin Rice, Arkansas State (Sr.)
CB: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU (So.)
CB: Greg Newsome II, Northwestern (Jr.)
S: Trevon Moehrig, TCU (Jr.)
S: Nolan Turner, Clemson (Sr.)
K: Jose Borregales, Miami (Sr.)
P: Lou Hedley, Miami (Jr.)
KR: Jeremiah Haydel, Texas State (Sr.)