2011 CFN All-Sophomore Team - Defense & ST
LSU DB Tyrann Mathieu
LSU DB Tyrann Mathieu
Posted Dec 15, 2011

Who were the best second-year defensive players in college football this season?

2011 All-Sophomore Team

Defense & Special Teams

CFN All-Freshman Teams
- 2010 CFN All-Freshman Team | 2009 CFN All-Freshman Team 
- 2008 CFN All-Freshman Team | 2007 CFN All-Freshman Team
- 2006 CFN  All-Freshman Team | 2005 CFN  All-Freshman Team
- 2004 CFN  All-Freshman Team 

Write-ups By Richard Cirminiello

- 2011 CFN Freshman All-America Offense 
Defensive Sophomore of the Year: CB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
DE Barkevious Mingo , LSU – Built like an end, Mingo covers the field with the speed of a safety. Lightning-quick for a 6-5, 240-pounder, he gets off the snap in an instant, and into the backfield before blockers can get a hat on him. One of those freakish athletic specimens that the Tigers have a habit of signing, he turned 41 tackles, 13.5 stops for loss and eight sacks into All-SEC Second Team recognition in his debut as a starter.

DT Michael Brockers , LSU – Brockers arrived at LSU as a 245-pound end, but his body had a different position in mind. Now, the 6-6, 310-pounder isn't quite as quick as he was coming out of Chavez (Tex.) High School, but he still has the requisite lateral speed and get-off to disrupt the rhythm of opposing backfields. The Second Team All-SEC selection has 47 tackles and 9.5 stops for loss, and with another year of seasoning on the inside, could be NFL-ready by the end of his junior season.

DT Johnathan Hankins , Ohio State – Hankins does things on the inside as a 340-pounder that defy common sense. He's massive, yet light on his feet, maintaining his stance long enough to occupy multiple blockers. Far more than just a space-eater, the honorable mention All-Big Ten pick carries his size well, and has racked up 64 tackles, 11 behind the line and three sacks. The NFL has a spot for players like Hankins, who can wreak havoc from the interior.

DE Sam Montgomery , LSU – Montgomery and Mingo have formed a dynamic bookend in Baton Rouge, regularly collapsing the pocket around opposing quarterbacks. The gifted all-around athlete made a triumphant return from last season's knee injury by making 44 stops, 13 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Blessed with explosive closing speed, the All-SEC Second Team pick can also use his brute strength to get underneath the pads of blockers, bullying them back into the backfield.

LB Denicos Allen , Michigan State – Allen—and fellow sophomore Max Bullough—were key reasons why the Spartans hardly skipped a beat at a corps gutted by graduations. Allen was used as a hybrid, with the athleticism to rush the passer on blitzes or seamlessly drop back into coverage. He's basically a guided missile from strongside, earning All-Big Ten Second Team honors by making 78 tackles, 17 stops for minus yards and 10 touchdowns. A freelancer, he's difficult for opposing coordinators to account for and contain.

LB Chris Borland , Wisconsin – Borland returned with a vengeance from a shoulder injury that cut short his 2010 campaign before it ever got off the ground. A blue-collar throwback and heart-and-soul type defender in the middle, he'll do whatever it takes to help his Badgers to a victory. Providing a punishing and dependable presence from the second level, the All-Big Ten first teamer has tallied 131 tackles, 18 stops for loss and a couple of picks, with a Rose Bowl left to be played.

LB Jarvis Jones , Georgia – Turns out you can go home again. Columbus, Ga. native Jones, who began his career at USC, returned to his native state in time for the 2011 season. And the Bulldogs couldn't be happier with the decision. He exploded on to the scene in his Athens debut, turning 69 tackles, 19.5 stops for loss and 13.5 sacks into All-SEC and All-American honors. The ferocious hitter is most dangerous when he pins his ears, and makes a bee-line toward the other team's backfield.

CB David Amerson , NC State – Few players shed their anonymity faster than Amerson did in 2011. Not even a household name in Raleigh when the season began, the second-year corner went on to lead the nation with an ACC-record 11 interceptions. Well-sized at 6-3 and 195 pounds, he takes good angles on throws, and has the catch radius of a top-flight wide receiver. Gobbling up picks will become a whole lot harder in 2012, as opposing quarterbacks opt to avoid No. 1 entirely.

S Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma – Part linebacker. Part safety. All over the field. Jefferson is an enforcer, making his presence felt in a multitude of different ways. The new age Roy Williams in Norman is a 5-10, 200-pound warden of the second and third levels, roaming the secondary as he looks for someone to tattoo. An honorable mention All-Big 12 choice in his second year, he has 67 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks and an OU-high four interceptions.

S Eric Reid , LSU – If he didn't play in the same defensive backfield as Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne, Reid wouldn't be such an unknown entity around the country. The rest of the SEC, however, knows him all too well. The 6-2, 208-pounder has started to draw comparisons to former Tiger star LaRon Landry, defending the pass as well as he fills running lanes. One of the heroes of the Nov. 5 Alabama win, the All-SEC Second Team choice ranks second on the team with 65 tackles.

CB Tyrann Mathieu , LSU – Mathieu has blossomed into one of the most exciting and influential defenders to play at this level in a long, long time. The quintessential ball-hawk out of the secondary has a unique ability to completely alter the tempo of a game with his frenetic style of play, both on defense and special teams. The All-American and Bednarik Award winner has made a team-high 70 stops, two picks, five fumble recoveries and six forced fumbles. He has also scored four touchdowns, putting a Deion-like stamp on the Tigers' last two crucial wins over Arkansas and Georgia.

Special Teams

PK Chandler Catanzaro , Clemson – The former walk-on became an unheralded cog in the Tigers' conference championship run, booting the game-winner over Wake Forest that locked up the Atlantic Division. For the year, Catanzaro was 20-of-25 on field goals to earn a spot on the All-ACC Second Team.

P Steven Clark , Auburn – Clark did about as good a job as he could in his debut as the successor to Ryan Shoemaker. Or better. In his first season as a regular, he was one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which is given to the nation's top punter. Although he averaged a modest 40.5 yards per attempt, his booming hang time and directionals allowed the opposition to return only 10 of his 69 punts.

Second Team
DE William Gholston , Michigan State
DT Sharrif Floyd , Florida
DT Nikita Whitlock , Wake Forest
DE Corey Lemonier , Auburn

LB Jonathan Brown , Illinois
LB Max Bullough, Michigan State
LB Khalil Mack , Buffalo

CB E.J. Gaines , Missouri
S C.J. Barnett , Ohio State
S Isaiah Lewis , Michigan State
CB Nickell Robey , USC

Special Teams

PK Andrew Furney , Washington State
P Brian Schmiedebusch , Bowling Green

Honorable Mention

DE: Nordly Capi (Colorado State), J.R. Collins (Virginia Tech), Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh), Ben Gardner (Stanford), James Gayle (Virginia Tech), Ryne Giddins (South Florida), Stansly Maponga (TCU), Kareem Martin (North Carolina), Ronald Powell (Florida), Bjoern Werner (Florida State)

DT: Dominique Easley (Florida), Taylor Hart (Oregon), Bryan Jones (Arkansas), Bennie Logan (LSU), Louis Nix (Notre Dame), Roosevelt Nix (Kent State), Nathan Ollie (Ball State), Akeem Spence (Illinois), Will Sutton (Arizona State)

LB: Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech), Preston Brown (Louisville), Winston Fraser (Florida International), Andrew Jackson (Western Kentucky), Shawn Jackson (Tulsa), Jelani Jenkins (Florida), Christian Kirksey (Iowa), Jarek Lancaster (Stanford), DeDe Lattimore (South Florida), Art Laurel (Hawaii), Shaun Lewis (Oklahoma State), Mike Marry (Ole Miss), Kevin Minter (LSU), Damontre Moore (Texas A&M), Aaron Morris (Ball State), James Morris (Iowa), C.J. Mosley (Alabama), Trent Murphy (Stanford), Corey Nelson (Oklahoma), Kevin Pierre-Louis (Boston College), Trevor Reilly (Utah), Keith Smith (San Jose State), Marquis Spruill (Syracuse), Kyle Van Noy (BYU), Tom Wort (Oklahoma)

CB: Ricardo Allen (Purdue), Carrington Byndom (Texas), Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State), Deven Drane (Cincinnati), Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech), L.J. Jones (Fresno State), Dee Milliner (Alabama), Logan Ryan (Rutgers), Tharold Simon (LSU), Deron Wilson (Southern Miss),

S: Brian Blechen (Utah), Terrance Bullitt (Texas Tech), Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma), Darwin Cook (West Virginia), Jacorious Cotton (Southern Miss), Ahmad Dixon (Baylor), Matt Elam (Florida), Antone Exum (Virginia Tech), Sam Holl (Baylor), Isaiah Johnson (Georgia Tech), Lamarcus Joyner (Florida State), Daytawion Lowe (Oklahoma State), Demetruce McNeal (Auburn), Charles Sawyer (Ole Miss), Johnnie Simon (Western Michigan), Hakeem Smith (Louisville), Jason Verrett (TCU), Andrew Wilson (Missouri), Ty Zimmerman (Kansas State),

PK: Drew Basil (Ohio State), Chris Boswell (Rice), Anthony Fera (Penn State), Ross Krautman (Syracuse), Mike Meyer (Iowa), Mathew Sims (Northern Illinois)

P: Dalton Botts (Miami), Ryan Erxleben (Texas Tech), Richie Leone (Houston), Kirby Van Der Kamp (Iowa State), Cole Wagner (Connecticut), Cody Webster (Purdue)

- 2011 CFN Freshman All-America Offense