2012 CFN All-America Offense
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
Posted Jun 11, 2012

The best and the brightest quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends and offensive linemen going into the season.

Preview 2012

1st Team All-America Offense

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Note: This isn't a ranking of the top pro prospects. This is based on the seasons we think the players are going to have.


Denard Robinson, Sr. Michigan
Robinson is what he is, and that's one of the most electrifying players in college football running for 1,702 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2010 and following it up by taking off for 1,176 yards and 16 scores last season. He's a mediocre passer – completing 55% of his throws for 2,173 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 15 picks last season – and he seems to have a habit of throwing bad interceptions at puzzling times, but any of the negatives are offset by his phenomenal playmaking skills.

While there was some discussion by Brady Hoke and the new coaching staff to limit Robinson's rushing attempts last year, he only carried the ball 35 fewer times than he did in 2010 and was the workhorse of sorts when the going got tough highlighted by a 26-carry, 170-yard, two-score rushing day against Ohio State. At 6-0 and 195 pounds he's not built to take a pounding, and he makes fans hold their breath on every run – partly because he's so dynamic and partly out of worry that he'll get hurt - but now this is 100% totally his offense and his season after two years of phenomenal, underappreciated-by-the-Heisman-types play. He'll be a receiver at the next level with his Florida state champion-level, 4.32 sprinter's speed, and the coaching staff will still do what it can to make sure he won't take more hits than he has to, but he's the key to the season. This will be a great Michigan team, but it needs No. 16 to shine to be truly special.


Montee Ball, Sr. Wisconsin
There were rumblings as a freshman that Ball might be special. The coaching staff loved to talk about his potential and made him a big part of the offense by the end of his freshman season. However, he fell a bit out of the mix in the first half of 2010 before coming on late to rip off five straight 100-yard games and 14 touchdowns on the way. After committing himself to a conditioning program he got in much better shape, and the results showed.

Robert Griffin III might have been brilliant and dynamic on the way to winning the Heisman, but Ball might have been the more valuable player tearing off 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground with 24 catches for 306 yards and six scores as a receiver. Even as a marked man he still produced in the biggest games, and now, after multiple touchdowns in every game last season but the 2011 Rose Bowl he's now on a tear of epic proportions. Over his last 19 games he has rushed for 2,700 yards and has scored 53 times averaging 2.8 touchdowns per game. Most impressively, he has handled the ball 620 times in his career and has yet to lose a fumble.

At 5-11 and 212 pounds he has a low center of gravity with tremendous quickness – despite adding a little bit of good weight - and a pinball style that almost never allows defenders to get a clean shot. The coaching staff won't overuse him, but he should be a lock for well over 250 carries and 1,500 yards.

Marcus Lattimore, Jr. South Carolina
It he healthy? When he's 100% he has No. 1 overall draft pick, revolve-the-franchise-around-him sort of talent in a day and age when the role of the top running backs have been diminished. But there's a big, giant if surrounding his health.

The 6-0, 210-pound junior has been overused with 412 carries and 48 catches in his 20 games of action, and for good reason. When the offense needed him – really, really needed him – he carried the load with 40 carries in the SEC East clinching win over Florida in 2010, and with 37 carries for 246 yards and three scores in the too-tough victory over Navy last year. He stepped right out of high school and scored ten touchdowns in his first six games, including a brilliant 37-carry, 182-yard day against Georgia in just the second game of his career, but he was beaten, battered and bruised, finishing off his true freshman campaign by getting blasted in the mouth on a huge hit against Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Last year he was rumbling along before suffering a knee injury against Mississippi State that knocked him out for the season. Fortunately, the injury happened in mid-October, giving him just enough time to potentially come back and produce, but it's asking a lot to have the same blend of speed, power and quickness less than a year after the injury.


Sammy Watkins, Soph. Clemson

No one is surprised that Watkins adjusted quickly to the college game. It was, however, a little shocking at how easily he dominated defensive backs at this level. He's the new mega-star of this program—if not the entire conference—displaying uncommon explosiveness and precision for such a young athlete. His precocious debut included 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns, and a spot on the all-league team as a receiver and kick returner. He has blinding speed. More important, though, he has near flawless ball skills, using his long arms and big mitts to pluck the ball out of the air. However, the Tigers could be without Watkins for the Auburn opener—or more. Head coach Dabo Swinney has yet to decide on a punishment for the receiver who was arrested on drug-related charges on May 4.

Robert Woods, Jr. USC
Less than two years. That's about how long it took for Woods to evolve into an NFL-ready receiver. If the league allowed it, he probably would have been taken in the first round of last April's draft. The total package at the position, and a reigning Biletnikoff Award finalist, the 6-1, 190-pounder caught 111 passes for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago. Woods has the jets to get behind a secondary, but he's so much more than just a straight-line burner with picture-perfect ball skills. He tight routes and can make acrobatic catches appear routine. With Matt Barkley as his battery mate and Marqise Lee flanked to the other side, Woods will once again be unstoppable and should make a big statement for the NFL types.


Tyler Eifert, Sr. Notre Dame
Notre Dame has become a factory for tight ends over the last few years, and Eifert to be an even better pro prospect than Kyle Rudolph was. At 6-6 and 251 pounds he has prototype size with great route running ability and terrific hands. He stepped up as a big playmaker when Rudolph got hurt in 2010, finishing the season with 27 catches for 352 yards and two scores, but last year the job was all his from the start and he came up with a consistent campaign catches 63 passes for 803 yards and five touchdowns averaging 12.7 yards per grab. He didn't score over the last three games of the season and was steadier than spectacular, but he's as reliable as any short-range target in college football and is a good enough blocker to get by.

regardless of position

Khaled Holmes, Sr. USC
The third-year starter is the unquestioned leader of USC's fantastic veteran O-line. Versatile, the 6-4, 305-pound senior can play any position on the interior, beginning his career at guard before emerging as an All-Pac-12 center in 2011. He brings certain intangibles to the middle of the line, such as intelligence and leadership, which the coaching staff covets at the position. Holmes is powerful at the point of attack, yet has the light feet to quickly kick out and get to the second level on running plays. He'll be in the hunt to be the first center chosen in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Alex Hurst, Sr. LSU
There's a little bit of turnover on the LSU line, but one of the mainstays will be Hurst, a 6-6, 325-pound blaster of a run blocker with a tremendous frame and NFL athleticism. While he'll be a right tackle or a guard at the next level, he has the ability and the skills to shine on the left side for the Tigers. One of the team's strongest players, he'll be an anchor the line will work around.

Luke Joeckel, Jr. Texas A&M
The A&M offensive line has the potential to be the best in the nation with five starters back from a group that finished fourth in the nation in sacks allowed and paved the way for close to 200 rushing yards per game. The star on the lot is the 6-6, 310-pound Joeckel at left tackle, a good pro prospect who beefed up but still managed to be phenomenal in pass protection. A great recruit when he signed on three years ago, he was supposed to be a superstar from the moment he set foot on campus. It took a little work, but he became special and has been a rock for the offense. He'll have a big decision to make after the season, but for now he'll be in the mix for All-America honors.

Barrett Jones, Sr. Alabama

Great left tackles are worth their weight in gold, and there's some thought that an elite one is harder to find than a good quarterback. All the 6-5, 302-pound Jones did was win the Outland Trophy, and now he's going to switch spots. A brilliant blocker, he helped lead Alabama to the national title by keeping AJ McCarron from getting hit on a regular basis and doing a great job against the better SEC defensive ends. Now he's going to go from being the best blocker in college football as a left tackle to leading the line as the anchor at center. Versatile, he was also considered a key guard prospect before settling in outside last year. A bad ankle limited him for a bit in the past, but he stayed healthy in 2011 and doesn't seem to have any issues. As long as he's 100%, the Rimington will be his for the taking.

Ricky Wagner, Sr. Wisconsin
The Badger offensive line will once again be the Badger offensive line, and while it'll have its share of all-stars, Wagner will be the one everything works around. After dominating as a right tackle in 2010, he took over for Gabe Carimi last season and started every game at left tackle. The former high school tight end is tremendously athletic a 6-6 and 332 pounds and did a wonderful job of keeping Russell Wilson clean. An honorable mention All-Big Ten performer over the last two seasons, now he's about to get the spotlight as one of the nation's premier all-around blockers and possibly the first offensive lineman taken in the 2013 NFL Draft.
- 2012 CFN All-America Teams
1st Team Offense | 2nd Team Offense | 3rd Team Offense | Special Teamers