First team anchors call Auburn home
Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 5:46 pm
NEW YORK (AP) — No. 1 Auburn will have an All-American anchoring each side of the ball when the Tigers play for the national championship.
Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley were voted to The Associated Press All-America team along with Oregon running back LaMichael James, who will face Auburn in the BCS title game in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 10.
Auburn is one of five teams with two players on the first team.
Wisconsin had two players from its excellent offensive line: Outland Trophy winning tackle Gabe Carimi and guard John Moffitt.
Oklahoma State, with the nation’s No. 1 offense, placed wide receiver Justin Blackmon and running back Kendall Hunter on the first team.
Not to be outdone, rival Oklahoma, which edged out the Cowboys for the Big 12 South title, had receiver Ryan Broyles and safety Quinton Carter on the team.
Big 12 North champion Nebraska also had two All-Americans: cornerback Prince Amukamara and kicker Alex Henery.
But no team had two more dominant players this season than Auburn.
Newton, in his first season with the Tigers after transferring from junior college, became the first quarterback in Southeastern Conference history to reach 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season. He also accounted for 49 touchdowns (28 passing, 20 rushing and one receiving).
“We knew and understood he was talented, but we didn’t realize he could do things on his own that a defense just can’t account for,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said.
Newton was practically unstoppable and Fairley was nearly unblockable.
The 295-pound junior led Auburn with 101⁄2 sacks and 21 tackles for loss, blossoming into one of the best defensive tackles into the country after starting just two games in 2009.
Chizik said it took Fairley, another junior college transfer, a season to adjust to playing in the SEC.
“He’s come a million miles from where he was last year,” he said.
Both of Auburn’s All-Americans also drew some negative attention this season.
The NCAA investigated Newton’s recruitment and determined that his father tried to get Mississippi State to pay for his son to play for the Bulldogs. Newton was allowed to keep playing.
Fairley drew criticism for being a dirty player, especially after he hit Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in the back with his helmet.
Those issues aside, Newton and Fairley are the biggest reasons Auburn, which started the season ranked No. 22, is unbeaten and in position to win its first national title since 1957.
Auburn also had tackle Lee Ziemba voted to second team and center Ryan Pugh on the third team.
No. 2 Oregon was represented on the three AP All-America teams by James, who led the nation in rushing at 153 yards per game and finished third in the Heisman voting, and cornerback Cliff Harris, a second-team selection.
Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford was the second-team quarterback, finishing behind Newton again. Kellen Moore of Boise State, the other Heisman finalist, was the third-team quarterback for the second straight year.
Joining the two big Badgers on the first-team offensive line were Florida State guard Rodney Hudson, Colorado tackle Nate Solder and Stanford center Chase Beeler. Missouri’s Michael Egnew was the tight end.
Kentucky’s versatile star Randall Cobb was the first-team all-purpose player. He ran for 401 yards, had 955 yards receiving and also returned kickoffs and punts.
Joining Fairley on the defensive line were Clemson end Da’Quan Bowers , who led the country with 151⁄2 sacks, Purdue end Ryan Kerrigan, whose 26 tackles for loss were tops in the nation, and Oregon State tackle Stephen Paea, the Pac-10 defensive player of the year.
Linebacker Greg Jones of Michigan State was the only player to make the first team for a second consecutive season. Boston College’s Luke Kuechley, the nation’s leading tackler with 171, and Texas A&M’s Von Miller were the other linebackers.
Filling out the secondary were LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and TCU safety Tejay Johnson.
The punter was Chas Henry of Florida.
The voting panel: Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal; Bob Asmussen, Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette; Robert Cessna, Bryan-College Station (Texas) Eagle; Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times; Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesmen; Pete DiPrimio, The Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel; Coley Harvey, The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph; Tom Keegan, Lawrence (Kan.) Journal World; Ferd Lewis, Honolulu Star-Advertiser; Rob Long, FOX-1370 Radio, Baltimore, Md.; Kyle Ringo, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.; Randy Rosetta, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.; Wes Rucker, Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press; Keith Sargeant, Home News Tribune, Central New Jersey; Jon Solomon, The Birmingham (Ala.) News; Kyle Tucker, The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, Va.