Julian Love leads trio of Notre Dame players on AP preseason All-America Team

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

The initial wave of preseason honors went to Julian Love’s head.

It wasn’t about an inflated ego, but instead an obligation in his mind to live up to the new stream of high praise. So the Notre Dame junior cornerback took more chances last spring and early in preseason training camp, lived for the interception even when it wasn’t there … and regressed.

Lesson learned, and Love is ascending once again — just in time to reel in another honor, Associated Press Preseason All-American. Tuesday he was one of three Irish players named to the AP second team.

Two holdovers from last season’s Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line, grad senior captains Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars, joined Love on the second team. Mustipher is in his third season as ND’s starting center. Bars is also a third-year starter but will be featured at his third different position in three years in 2018.

Bars started at right tackle in 2016 and right guard in 2017. He moves into departed All-American Quenton Nelson’s left guard spot this season.

Love is also a third-year starter, and finished second nationally last season in passes defended per game (1.8) and second in overall pass breakups (20) to Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson (21), who played one more game than Love in 2017.

Love was fifth in the FBS in interception return yards last season, with 153.

The 12th-ranked Irish open the season Sept. 1 against No. 14 Michigan at Notre Dame Stadium.

AP preseason All-America Team

FIRST TEAM

Offense

Quarterback — Will Grier, senior, West Virginia.

Running backs — Bryce Love, senior, Stanford; Jonathan Taylor, sophomore, Wisconsin.

Tackles — Jonah Williams, junior, Alabama; Mitch Hyatt, senior, Clemson.

Guards — Beau Benzschawel, senior, Wisconsin; Nate Herbig, junior, Stanford.

Center — Ross Pierschbacher, senior, Alabama.

Tight end — Noah Fant, junior, Iowa.

Receivers — A.J. Brown, junior, Mississippi; David Sills V, senior, West Virginia.

All-purpose player — Myles Gaskin, senior, Washington.

Kicker — Matt Gay, senior, Utah.

Defense

Ends — Nick Bosa, junior, Ohio State; Clelin Ferrell, junior, Clemson.

Tackles — Ed Oliver, junior, Houston; Christian Wilkins, Senior, Clemson.

Linebackers — Devin White, junior, LSU; Devin Bush, junior, Michigan; T.J. Edwards, senior, Wisconsin.

Cornerbacks — Greedy Williams, sophomore, LSU; Deandre Baker, senior, Georgia.

Safeties — Jaquan Johnson, senior, Miami; Taylor Rapp, junior, Washington.

Punter — Mitch Wishnowsky, senior, Utah.

SECOND TEAM

Offense

Quarterback — Trace McSorley, senior, Penn State.

Running backs — A.J. Dillon, sophomore, Boston College; Damien Harris, junior, Alabama.

Tackles — David Edwards, junior, Wisconsin; Greg Little, junior, Mississippi.

Guards — Alex Bars, senior, Notre Dame; Michael Dieter, senior, Wisconsin.

Center — Sam Mustipher, senior, Notre Dame.

Tight end — Kaden Smith, junior, Stanford.

Receivers — N’Keal Harry, junior, Arizona State; Anthony Johnson, senior, Buffalo.

All-purpose player — Deebo Samuel. senior, South Carolina.

Kicker — Rodrigo Blankenship, junior, Georgia.

Defense

Ends — Rashan Gary, junior, Michigan; Raekwon Davis, junior, Alabama.

Tackles — Dexter Lawrence, junior, Clemson; Jeffrey Simmons, junior, Mississippi State.

Linebackers — Cameron Smith, senior, Southern California; Troy Dye, junior, Oregon; Mack Wilson, junior, Alabama.

Cornerbacks — Byron Murphy, sophomore, Washington; Julian Love, junior, Notre Dame.

Safeties — Lukas Dennis, senior, Boston College; Andrew Wingard, senior, Wyoming.

Punter — Jake Bailey, senior, Stanford.

Julian Love returns a first-half interception for a touchdown against Michigan State in 2017.