Jaylon Smith leads large ND showing on AP All-America team
The seemingly incessant lists of the nation’s best college players started clogging Twitter timelines last month, including those concocted by individuals sitting in their underwear in their mother’s basement.
The ones that matter are rolling out, and Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith remains a constant.
On Sunday, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior from Fort Wayne, Ind., was named first-team All-America by the Associated Press. Three teammates — defensive tackle Sheldon Day, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and wide receiver Will Fuller landed on the second team.
Area high school product, offensive tackle and Concord grad Jason Spriggs, landed on the third team along with Indiana University teammate, offensive guard Dan Feeney.
The four-man Irish contingent constitutes the largest from ND to occupy spots on the AP first and second teams since 1993 (Aaron Taylor, Jeff Burris, Tim Ruddy, Bryant Young). Only twice have the Irish had more first/second-teamers since the AP All-America team’s inception in 1926 — 1930 and 1977 with five selections each.
For Smith, his selection by AP, and by the Walter Camp Foundation last Thursday, keep him on track for both consensus and unanimous All-America honors. Stanley, a Walter camp first-teamer remains in play for consensus All-America.
The last time ND has teammates accomplish that feat in the same year was 1993, with Taylor and Burris.
The Irish have 81 consensus All-Americans and 97 selections (with repeats) in their rich history — both figures the most in college football. But just four have come in the 2000s — cornerback Shane Walton in 2002, wide receiver Jeff Samardzija in 2005, wide receiver Golden Tate in 2009 and linebacker Manti Te’o in 2012.
All but Samardzija were also unanimous selections.
The five teams that since 2002 are used to determine consensus All-Americans are: the Walter Camp Football Foundation; The Associated Press; the Football Writers Association of America; The Sporting News; and the American Football Coaches Association.
The FWAA team will be unveiled Monday, with The Sporting News on Tuesday, AFCA on Wednesday and the consensus team from the NCAA on Thursday.
Alabama, led by Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, had three first-team AP All-America selections as did Baylor, the most of any college teams in 2015.
Notre Dame faced seven AP first- or second-teamers during the regular season and will face five more in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1 in Glendale, Ariz.
Those players are Ohio State first-teamers, offensive tackle Taylor Decker and safety Vonn Bell; and second-teamers, running back Ezekiel Elliott, offensive guard Pat Elflein and defensive end Joey Bosa.
The Irish faced five third-teamers during the regular season, including Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who finished fifth Saturday in the Heisman Trophy race.
The 2015 Associated Press All-America team:
Quarterback — Deshaun Watson, sophomore, Clemson.
Running backs — Derrick Henry, junior, Alabama; Leonard Fournette, sophomore, LSU.
Tackles — Taylor Decker, senior, Ohio State; Spencer Drango, senior, Baylor.
Guards — Joshua Garnett, senior, Stanford; Landon Turner, senior, North Carolina.
Center — Jack Allen, senior, Michigan State.
Receivers — Corey Coleman, junior, Baylor; Josh Doctson, senior, TCU.
Tight end — Hunter Henry, junior, Arkansas.
All-purpose player — Christian McCaffrey, sophomore, Stanford.
Kicker — Ka'imi Fairbairn, senior, UCLA.
Ends — Shaq Lawson, junior, Clemson; Carl Nassib, senior, Penn State.
Tackles — A'Shawn Robinson, junior, Alabama; Andrew Billings, junior, Baylor.
Linebackers — Reggie Ragland, senior, Alabama; Tyler Matakevich, senior, Temple; Jaylon Smith, junior, Notre Dame.
Cornerbacks — Desmond King, junior, Iowa; Vernon Hargreaves III, sophomore, Florida.
Safeties — Jeremy Cash, senior, Duke; Vonn Bell, junior, Ohio State.
Punter — Tom Hackett, senior, Utah.
Quarterback — Baker Mayfield, junior, Oklahoma.
Running backs — Dalvin Cook, sophomore, Florida State; Ezekiel Elliott, junior, Ohio State.
Tackles — Jack Conklin, junior, Michigan State; Ronnie Stanley, senior, Notre Dame.
Guards — Sebastian Tretola, senior, Arkansas; Pat Elflein, junior, Ohio State.
Center — Ryan Kelly, senior, Alabama.
Receivers — Will Fuller, junior, Notre Dame; JuJu Smith-Schuster, sophomore, Southern California.
Tight end — Jake Butt, junior, Michigan.
All-purpose player — Morgan Burns, senior, Kansas State.
Kicker — Jake Elliott, junior, Memphis.
Ends — Joey Bosa, junior, Ohio State; DeForest Buckner, senior, Oregon.
Tackles — Robert Nkemdiche, junior, Mississippi; Sheldon Day, senior, Notre Dame.
Linebackers — Joe Schobert, senior, Wisconsin; Kentrell Brothers, senior, Missouri; Eric Striker, senior, Oklahoma.
Cornerbacks — Jourdan Lewis, junior, Michigan; Jalen Ramsey, junior, Florida State.
Safeties — Trae Elston, senior, Mississippi; Jayron Kearse, junior, Clemson.
Punter — Drew Kaser, senior, Texas A&M.
Quarterback — Keenan Reynolds, senior, Navy.
Running backs — Royce Freeman, sophomore, Oregon; Larry Rose III, sophomore, New Mexico State.
Tackles — Jason Spriggs, senior, Indiana; Vadal Alexander, senior, LSU.
Guards — Dan Feeney, junior, Indiana; Joe Thuney, senior, North Carolina State.
Center — Austin Blythe, senior, Iowa.
Receivers — Laquon Treadwell, junior, Mississippi; Roger Lewis, sophomore, Bowling Green.
Tight end — Austin Hooper, junior, Stanford.
All-purpose player — Jakeem Grant, senior, Texas Tech.
Kicker — Adam Schneider, sophomore, Oregon.
Ends — Shilique Calhoun, senior, Michigan State; Myles Garrett, sophomore, Texas A&M.
Tackles — Jonathan Bullard, senior, Florida; Kenny Clark, junior, UCLA.
Linebackers — Su'a Cravens, junior, Southern California; Blake Martinez, senior, Stanford; Anthony Walker, sophomore, Northwestern.
Cornerbacks — Mackensie Alexander, sophomore, Clemson; Shawun Lurry, sophomore, Northern Illinois.
Safeties — Eddie Jackson, junior, Alabama; Darian Thompson, senior, Boise State.
Punter — Hayden Hunt, junior, Colorado State.
All-America selection panel
Kirk Bohls, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman; Scott Hamilton, Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal; Jon Wilner, San Jose (California) Mercury News; Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News; Steve Layman, WTVF-TV Nashville, Tennessee; Dave Reardon, Honolulu Star-Advertiser; Bob Asmussen, Champaign (Illinois) News-Gazette; Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News; Brian Howell, Daily Camera (Boulder, Colorado); Sam Werner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Eric Hansen; The South Bend (Indiana) Tribune; Sam McKewon, Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald; John Adams, Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel; Garry Smits, The Florida Times-Union; Keith Sargeant; New Jersey Advance Media.