DALLAS — The 2018 Football Writers Association of America All-America Team was announced Monday, headlined by eight players from the Southeastern Conference and six from the Atlantic Coast Conference along with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray of Oklahoma. Nine of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences plus two independents are represented on the first and second teams that also include seven repeat All-Americans.
Alabama, the top-ranked team in the upcoming College Football Playoff, leads the field with four selections, two on the first team and two on the second team, while Oklahoma, Clemson and LSU each placed three on the first- and/or second-teams. Alabama leads four SEC programs with at least two members on the All-America team with defensive lineman and Outland Trophy winner Quinnen Williams and offensive lineman Jonah Williams on the first team to go with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and defensive back Deionte Thompson on the second team.
Oklahoma boasts Murray and offensive lineman Ben Powers on the first team and wide receiver Marquise Brown on the second, and Clemson has a pair of two-time All-Americans on the first team in offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt (2nd team in 2017) and defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (1st team in 2016), along with running back Travis Etienne on the second.
The first team includes a mix of nine seniors or graduate students, 10 juniors, six sophomores and two freshmen. The conference breakdown on the first team is: SEC (8), ACC (6), Big Ten (4), Big 12 (3), American Athletic (2), Independents (2), Pac-12 (1) and Mountain West (1). There are four repeat members on the 27-player first team but overall 47 of the 54 honored players are first-time selections to the FWAA All-America team. There are seven repeat members on the full team, and the SEC leads all conferences in members of the full team with 15, well ahead of the ACC’s 10.
Ed Oliver of Houston, now a three-time FWAA All-American (1st team in 2017 and 2nd team in 2016) on the defensive line, highlights the first-team defense along with this year’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, Josh Allen of Kentucky, which the FWAA honored last week as the nation’s most outstanding defensive player. LSU placed two members into the first-team secondary with Grant Delpit and Greedy Williams, and the Tigers’ third All-American is repeat member Devin White (2nd team in 2017) on the second team. Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, the nation’s tackles leader, is also on the first-team defense along with one of the top sack leaders, Montez Sweat of Mississippi State. Devin Bush of Michigan is the other first-team linebacker, and Boston College and Notre Dame players complete the first-team secondary with Hamp Cheevers and Julian Love, respectively.
Two running backs who have topped 1,900 yards this season fill out the first-team backfield in two-time All-American Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin (2nd team in 2017) and Memphis running back Darrell Henderson. One of the men who helped clear Taylor’s path, Wisconsin offensive lineman Michael Deiter, is also on the first team, as is center Garrett Bradbury of N.C. State. The nation’s two receiving yardage leaders, Andy Isabella of Massachusetts and Antoine Wesley of Texas Tech, are on the first team along with tight end target Jace Sternberger of Texas A&M. The Aggies also placed punter Braden Mann on the first team.
The first-team specialists include Mann, the nation’s punting-average leader, along with the two freshmen on the first team, Syracuse kicker Andre Szmyt and Purdue all-purpose player Rondale Moore, who leads the nation in receptions in addition to being one of the country’s most dangerous return men. Utah State’s Savon Scarver earned the first-team spot as kick returner, and Wake Forest’s Greg Dortch is the first-team punt returner. Also among the specialists is Matt Gay of Utah, a repeat member who earned second-team mention this season after first-team accolades in 2017.
Utah is one of 10 schools with at least two members on the full team and placed linebacker Chase Hansen on the second team. Boston College also placed a second member among the specialists with Michael Walker as the second-team punt returner. Notre Dame center Sam Mustipher gives the Fighting Irish a second-team All-American and Ole Miss has a pair of second-team members in wide receiver A.J. Brown and offensive lineman Greg Little. Northern Illinois defensive lineman Sutton Smith is one of the seven repeat All-Americans as a second-team defensive lineman (1st team in 2017) and the Mid-American Conference’s lone member on the full team. Smith is tied for the national sack lead with 15.0 on the season along with Louisiana Tech defensive lineman Jaylon Ferguson, who is also on the second team and is Conference USA’s lone selection.
2018 FWAA ALL-AMERICA FIRST TEAM
2017 FWAA ALL-AMERICA SECOND TEAM
Offense: QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama; RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona State; RB Travis Etienne, Clemson; WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss; WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma; TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa; OL Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia; OL Greg Little, Ole Miss; OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State; OL Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon; C Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame.
Defense: DL Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech; DL Sutton Smith, NIU; DL Kenny Willekes, Michigan State; DL Gerald Willis, Miami; LB Chase Hansen, Utah; LB Tre Watson, Maryland; LB Devin White, LSU; DB Paulson Adebo, Stanford; DB Deandre Baker, Georgia; DB Bryce Hall, Virginia; DB Deionte Thompson, Alabama.
Specialists: K Matt Gay, Utah; P James Smith, Cincinnati; KR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina; PR Michael Walker, Boston College; AP Pooka Williams, Kansas.
The FWAA’s All-America Committee selected this 75th annual team based on nominations from the entire membership. This is just the sixth season in the modern era (post-1950) that the FWAA has named a second team. The FWAA also selected an allpurpose player for a second time, which made for a 54-man full team.
Since 1945, the FWAA All-America Team has been among the five teams used to formulate the NCAA’s annual consensus AllAmerica team, which will be announced later this week. Since the 2002 season, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), The Associated Press, The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation have joined the FWAA as the five designated selectors by the NCAA.
The FWAA All-America Team was first selected in 1944, three years after the organization was formed. The FWAA’s inaugural team included Army’s Heisman Trophy tandem of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis and Georgia Tech’s Frank Broyles, who later became Arkansas’ head football coach and athletic director.
Over the years, the FWAA team has highlighted all the game’s great players in several media forums. From 1946-70, LOOK magazine published the FWAA team and brought players and selected writers to New York City for a celebration. During that 25-year period, the FWAA team was introduced on national television shows by such noted hosts as Bob Hope, Steve Allen and Perry Como.
After LOOK folded, the FWAA started a long association with NCAA Films (later known as NCAA Productions), which produced a 30-minute television program. The team was part of ABC-TV’s 1981 College Football Series. From 1983-90, the team was introduced on either ABC or ESPN. In 2002 and ‘03, the All-America team was honored with a banquet at the Citrus Bowl.
The same bowl also was a sponsor when the team was featured on ABC and ESPN from different locations on Disney properties from 2004-07. From 2008-10, the team had been the subject of a one-hour ESPN special.
For seven decades the FWAA has selected an All-America team with the help of its members and an All-America Committee, which represents all the regions in the country. From that All-America team, the FWAA also selects the Outland Trophy winner (best interior lineman) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner (best defensive player).
Some of the true greats of the writing profession have helped to select this team over the years: Grantland Rice, Bert McGrane, Blackie Sherrod, Furman Bisher, Pat Harmon, Fred Russell, Edwin Pope, Murray Olderman, Paul Zimmerman – and the list goes on and on. The FWAA All-America team is steeped in tradition and history and is selected by a writers’ group with those same attributes.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 214-870-6516.
2018 FWAA ALL-AMERICA COMMITTEE
- Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman
- Ken Capps, TexasFootball.com (Big 12)
- Clay Henry, Hawgs Illustrated (SEC)
- Joey Johnston, Johnston Communications (American)
- Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com (Big Ten)
- Nate Mink, Syracuse Post-Standard (ACC)
- Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News (Conference USA)
- B.J. Rains, Idaho Press Tribune (Mountain West)
- Matt Roberson, Jonesboro Sun (Sun Belt)
- Tony Siracusa, Last Word on College Football (Pac-12)
- Phil Steele, Phil Steele Publications
- John Wagner, Freelance (MAC)