2012 CFN All-America Defense
Florida State DE Brandon Jenkins
Florida State DE Brandon Jenkins
Posted Jun 18, 2012

The best and the brightest defensive stars going into the season.

Preview 2012

1st Team All-America Defense

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- 2012 CFN All-America Teams
1st Team Offense | 2nd Team Offense | 3rd Team Offense 
1st Team Defense | 2nd Team Defense | 3rd Team Defense | Special Teamers

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.

DL – Johnathan Hankins, Jr. Ohio State
One of the most active and productive all-around tackles in college football, Hankins tied for third on the team with 67 tackles to go along with three sacks and 11 tackles for loss. At 6-4 and 317 pounds he has tremendous size and shocking quickness off the ball, able to both be an anchor against the run while also dominating as an interior pass rusher. Steady, he came up with a great midseason stretch and was at his best in the biggest games. The defense will work around him once again, and with John Simon taking some of the attention away, he should once again be a statistical superstar.

DL – Brandon Jenkins, Sr. Florida State
After finishing the past two seasons on the All-ACC squad, Jenkins has his sights set on even more prestigious company in his final year in Tallahassee. Not just a top All-America candidate, he has the potential to be the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and could be a top ten pick in the 2013 NFL Draft if he plays up to his sky-high expectations. The 6-3, 260-pounder is one of the nation’s premier pass rushers, explosive off the snap, and refusing to quit until the whistle blows. Ideally built to circle around the edge, he’s great at using his long and closing speed to whip opposing tackles – when he gets a line on a quarterback, it’s over. Despite seeing frequent double-teams, Jenkins has racked up 33.5 stops for loss and 21.5 sacks over the past two seasons making 41 tackles with eight sacks last year.

DL – Star Lotulelei, Sr. Utah
The tone-setter for a great defensive front will once again be the 6-4, 325-pound Lotulelei on the nose, the All-Pac-12 first-teamer with a first overall draft pick ceiling. The former Snow College star was also the winner of the Morris Trophy, given to the league’s best D-lineman, despite being doubled for much of the year. The senior would be in the NFL right now had he left school early, but instead will be one of the first players chosen in the 2013 draft. Lotulelei’s importance up front transcends numbers, 44 tackles, nine stops for loss and 1.5 sacks. He’s a powerful anchor in run defense who’s nearly impossible to move off his base.

DL –Sam Montgomery, Jr. LSU
The Tigers are known for cranking out top-flight tackles, and the star of stars on this year’s great defensive line is Montgomery, a 6-4, 245-pound pass rushing terror who led the team with nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss with 49 tackles. There was some question about whether or not he’d be able to hold up after suffering a season-ending knee injury as a freshman, but he was just as speedy and just as great around the corner. Ultra-consistent with a great frame and the room to get a little bit bigger, he’s in a salary drive and should be a first-round draft pick if and when he chooses to come out early.

LB – Jonathan Brown, Jr. Illinois
Brown might be an All-American, but even if he goes on to become a great pro and a Hall of Fame performer he’ll still forever be known for his all-timer of a YouTube moment – look up Jonathan Brown cheap shot – when he applied a well-placed knee to Northwestern’s Patrick Ward. The unfortunate part about the move was that it overshadowed an otherwise phenomenal game and season finishing with a team-leading 108 tackles with six sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, a pick and four broken up passes. At 6-1 and 235 pounds he has the build to go along with the strength, range and burst for the middle after working last year on the weakside. Steady, he’s ultra-productive on a consistent basis and should be on the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year short list.

LB – Jarvis Jones, Jr. Georgia
There was never a question mark about his talent. The 6-3, 241-pounder came to Georgia from USC with a world of skill and upside, size, and elite skills, but there was a huge concern about his health after injuring his neck in 2009. Cleared and ready to go, he exploded for the Dawgs making 70 tackles with 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss as the leader of a strong defense. He started out hot with 11 tackles against Boise State and was steady all the way through the regular season, but he only came up with three stops against LSU and one in the loss to Michigan State. With his skills and burst he’ll be turned loose even more and he should be one of the nation’s most dangerous pass rushing terrors.

LB – Manti Te’o, Sr. Notre Dame
One of the biggest and brightest recruits from the Charlie Weis era more than lived up to his billing. After coming into his own with a 133-tackle, 9.5-tackle-for-loss sophomore season, he cranked up a team-leading tackles with 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in a brilliant junior season. After starting out with 14 tackles and a sack against USF he went on to hit the double-digit tackle mark nine times finishing up with a 13-stop day with a forced fumble against Florida State. The 6-2, 255-pound senior has tremendous size, terrific instincts, and enough range to get to most things that aren’t funneled his way. The NFL scouts are split on how he’ll translate to the next level, but he’s a peerless hitter who doesn’t miss anything that comes his way. With one more big year it’s not crazy to suggest that he might end his career as the best linebacker in Notre Dame history.

DB – David Amerson, Jr. NC State
The Pack knew it had a special player early last year, and then he was unleashed on the rest of the college football world. In just his second season on campus, he went from a wide-eyed rookie to an All-American, setting the ACC single-season record with 13 interceptions and 59 tackles while always seeming to be around the ball and always making the big play. Versatile, Amerson would be an ideal two-way guy if the offense needs more help on the other side of the ball, but he’s a top corner with all the tools to be even more of a shut-down defender. At 6-3 and 194 pounds he has long arms, great size, and the potential to be a whale of an NFL free safety. He boasts uncommon ball skills for a defensive back, high-pointing throws, breaking suddenly on passes and never allowing his chest to touch the ball.

DB – Jonthan Banks, Sr. Mississippi State
The 6-2, 185-pound senior could’ve left early for the NFL, but he’s back as one of the best-tackling corners in college football making 71 stops with three sacks. The former free safety knows what he’s doing on the outside, and now with his experience, size and ball skills, he should be in for a huge final season as the star of the MSU D. While he hits well and is peerless at wrapping up, he’s also deadly when the ball is in the air making five picks with nine broken up passes. Teams stopped throwing his way, but he still found ways to be productive. Quick as well as fast, he’s also a terrific punt returner taking one for a score against UT-Martin.

DB - T.J. McDonald, Sr. USC
Obviously, Matt Barkley’s career path made a bigger splash, but McDonald’s decision to return to USC was almost as big a deal for the defense. Following in the footsteps of father Tim, the younger Trojan has also earned All-America recognition for his play in the secondary making 67 tackles. Arguably the hard-hitting free safety in college football, he’s an intimidating force with the instincts and crisp fundamentals to support both the pass defense and the run D. The 6-3, 205-pounder has the wingspan, range and hips to perform like a corner when the ball is in the air, picking off three passes in each of the last two seasons. However, he’s most valuable when unleashing the kind of vicious hits that dispatch a message to the other team’s sideline.

DB – Eric Reid, Jr. LSU
Lost in the shuffle with all the publicity given to Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne was Reid, a terrific all-around free safety with 6-2, 207-pound size and unlimited range. A star high school prospect, he has grown into a first-round caliber pro prospect with the ability to lock down in the open field against speedy receivers and the physical ability to match up with the bigger ones. He finished tied with Mathieu for the team lead with 76 tackles to go along with two picks and three broken up passes, highlighted by his brilliant grab in the win over Alabama. Had the Tigers gone on to win the national title, his interception would’ve been remembered as the play of the 2011 season.

- 2012 CFN All-America Teams
1st Team Offense | 2nd Team Offense | 3rd Team Offense 
1st Team Defense | 2nd Team Defense | 3rd Team Defense | Special Teamers