Notre Dame's Julian Love, Jerry Tillery land on AP Midseason All-America Team

Eric Hansen | South Bend Tribune
ND Insider

Two of the reasons Notre Dame has a chance for its best-ever national ranking in pass-efficiency defense showed up Tuesday on the Associated Press Midseason All-America Team.

One affects the players trying to catch the passes. The other harasses the quarterbacks trying to thrown them.

Junior cornerback Julian Love, No. 2 nationally among active FBS players in career passes defended, made the first team. Senior defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, tied for 10th in the nation this season in sacks but first among interior defensive linemen, made the second team.

Among other major midseason All-America teams revealed this week:

• Tillery and Love were both first-teamers on the Sports Illustrated squad.

• Tillery was a first-teamer and Love a second-teamer on The Athletic’s squad.

• Linebacker Te’von Coney was the lone Irish representative on the Pro Football Focus midseason team.

ND’s best team statistical standing in any of the offensive, defensive or special teams category is its No. 13 standing in pass-efficiency defense. The Irish have never finished higher than 10th at season’s end since it first became an official stat in 1991.

Finishing in the top 10 is realistic, given the five remaining Irish opponents range from 71st (Florida State) to 125th (Navy) in team passing efficiency.

Love has 27 tackles for the fourth-ranked Irish (7-0), off this weekend as country music superstar Garth Brooks takes over Notre Dame Stadium for a Saturday concert.

The 5-11, 193-pounder is tied for first nationally in fumble recoveries (3), second nationally in passes defended (PBUs and interceptions combined, 13) and second in pass breakups (12). The ND career leader in pass breakups is on pace to break his single-season school record (20), set last season.

The 6-7, 305-pound Tillery has 21 tackles this season, including 7½ for losses with seven sacks. He also has four QB hurries and is tied for third nationally in forced fumbles (3).

Coney, a 6-1, 240-pound senior, leads the Irish with 56 tackles, including 5½ for losses with one sack. He also has an interception, two pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.

The Irish next play Oct. 27 in a primetime matchup with Navy (2-4) in San Diego (8 EDT; CBS-TV).

Should Love end the season as an All-American, it would end the longest position drought on the defensive side of the ball for the Irish. The last season ND had an All-America cornerback was 2002 —and the Irish had two that year: Shane Walton and Vontez Duff.

The longest position drought on offense when it comes to All-Americans for Notre Dame is running back. Current Irish running backs coach Autry Denson is the most recent to be so honored, earning second-team honors in 1998.

Top-ranked Alabama landed five players on the AP Midseason All-America first team, led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and a sixth player on the second team. LSU was the only other school with more than two first-teamers. The Tigers had three, all on defense.

AP Midseason All-America TeamFIRST TEAMOffense

Quarterback — Tua Tagovailoa, sophomore, Alabama.

Running backs — Jonathan Taylor, sophomore, Wisconsin; Darrell Henderson, junior, Memphis.

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

Guards — Beau Benzschawel, senior, Wisconsin; Shane Lemieux, junior, Oregon.

Center — Ross Pierschbacher, senior, Alabama.

Tight end — Jace Sternberger, junior, Texas A&M.

Receivers — Laviska Shenault Jr., sophomore, Colorado; Jerry Jeudy, sophomore, Alabama.

All-purpose player — Greg Dortch, sophomore, Wake Forest.

Kicker — Andre Szmyt, freshman, Syracuse.

Defense

Ends — Clelin Ferrell, junior, Clemson; Chase Winovich, senior, Michigan.

Tackles — Ed Oliver, junior, Houston; Gerald Willis III, senior, Miami.

Linebackers — Josh Allen, senior, Kentucky; Devin White, junior, LSU; Ben Burr-Kirven, senior, Washington.

Cornerbacks — Julian Love, junior, Notre Dame; Greedy Williams, sophomore, LSU.

Safeties — Deionte Thompson, junior, Alabama; Grant Delpit, sophomore, LSU.

Punter — Braden Mann, junior, Texas A&M.

SECOND TEAMOffense

Quarterback — Dwayne Haskins, sophomore, Ohio State.

Running backs — Travis Etienne, sophomore, Clemson; Benny Snell, junior, Kentucky.

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

Guards — Terronne Prescod, senior, North Carolina State; Ben Bredeson, junior, Michigan.

Center — Michael Jordan, junior, Ohio State.

Tight end — Noah Fant, junior, Iowa.

Receivers — Marquise Brown, junior, Oklahoma; John Ursua, junior, Hawaii.

All-purpose player — Rondale Moore, freshman, Purdue.

Kicker — Cole Tracy, senior, LSU.

Defense

Ends — Montez Sweat, junior, Mississippi State; Brian Burns, junior, Florida State.

Tackles — Jerry Tillery, senior, Notre Dame; Quinnen Williams, sophomore, Alabama.

Linebackers — Devin Bush, junior, Michigan; Porter Gustin, senior, Southern California; Curtis Bolton, senior, Oklahoma.

Cornerbacks — Deandre Baker, senior, Georgia; Adrian Frye, freshman, Texas Tech.

Safeties — Taylor Rapp, junior, Washington; Ugochukwu Amadi, senior, Oregon.

Punter — Ryan Stonehouse, sophomore, Colorado State.

Voter panel: Bob Asmussen, Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette; Matt Baker, Tamp Bay (Fla.) Times; Michael Barber, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch; Matt Brown , The Athletic; Robert Cessna, Bryan-College Station (Texas) Eagle; Rece Davis, ESPN; Pat Dooley, Gainesville (Fla.) Sun; Scott Hamilton, WECT-TV Wilmington, North Carolina; Eric Hansen, The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune; Brian Howell, ; Rob Long, WJZ-FM 105.7 The Fan Baltimore; Sean Manning, ; Conor O’Neill, ; Soren Petro, 810 WHB Kansas City, Missouri; Keith Sargeant, NJ.com/The Star Ledger; Jon Wilner, San Jose (Calif.) Mercury New.

Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love (27) brings down Pittsburgh’s Rafael Araujo-Lopes (82) during ND’s 19-14 victory, Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery (99) chases down Stanford’s Bryce Love (20) during the Notre Dame-Stanford NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.