2013 CFN All-Sophomore Team - Defense & ST
Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun
Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun
Posted Dec 11, 2013

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

2013 All-Sophomore Team

Defense & Special Teams

Write-ups By Richard Cirminiello

- 2013 CFN Sophomore All-America Offense 
Defensive Sophomore of the Year: DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska

First Team Defense

DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
Calhoun didn't begin his Spartan career with much fanfare, but he sure has made up for a humble beginning. He's blossomed into a disruptive force off the edge in East Lansing, adding much-needed weight without sacrificing any of his cat-like quickness. The All-Big Ten First Team selection has 14 stops for minus yards, 7.5 sacks, 18 hurries, four fumble recoveries and three defensive touchdowns.

DT Malcom Brown, Texas
Brown has begun to play like the top-rated prep tackle of the 2012 recruiting class, an exciting development in Austin. Fast, physical and relentless in pursuit, he does unexpected things for a 6-4, 315-pound interior lineman. Brown really started to flourish after Greg Robinson took the reins of the D, closing the regular season with 63 tackles, 11 stops for loss, two sacks and five pass breakups.

DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska
Gregory is still raw, which is reason for unbridled enthusiasm about his future. An academic non-qualifier at Purdue and transfer from Arizona Western Community College, he's debuted in Lincoln with 61 stops, 17 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries. Once Gregory sharpens his technique, his enormous wingspan and explosive first step could propel him to greatness and national honors in 2014.

DE Leonard Williams, USC
Williams made a smooth transition from tackle to end in Clancy Pendergast's new system, landing on the All-Pac-12 First Team. An ideal 3-4 end at 6-5 and 290 pounds, he has the size-speed ratio to line up wherever there's a clearer path to the backfield. Williams overcame a late shoulder injury to finish second on the team with 73 stops, adding 13.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and two forced fumbles.

LB Ejiro Ederaine, Fresno State
After playing in just a couple of games in 2012, Ederaine has erupted in his second season of action. The glorified safety, who struggles to keep weight, performs like a guided missile from the second level, amassing 58 tackles, 15.5 stops behind the line and 10 sacks. Ederaine is nasty out in space and too quick for opposing linemen to derail once he gets a head of steam.

LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
It would be convenient to label Matakevich as a product of his limited surroundings. It would also be inaccurate. The second-year starter plays with outstanding instincts and the toughness to anchor without much support. Matakevich not only led the Owls with 137 tackles, 11.5 behind the line, but he also leads the country in solo stops, rarely allowing yards after contact.

LB Shaq Thompson, Washington
Thompson is a do-it-all kind of linebacker for the Huskies, a ferocious hitter with the awareness and instincts of a former safety. The one-time can't-miss recruit gives the staff options on how he can be used, ranking second on the team with 70 tackles, yet also breaking up four passes and taking a pick back 80 yards. Thompson was named honorable mention All-Pac-12 in his second year on campus.

CB Blake Countess, Michigan
The Wolverines were thrilled to regain the services this year of Countess, who missed all but the opener in 2012 to a serious knee injury. He was a little rusty in the early going, but eventually found his comfort zone to finish the regular season with 42 tackles and a Big Ten-best six interceptions. Countess was recognized by the media as an All-Big Ten First Team pick.

S Jeremy Cash, Duke
Cash sought a fresh start elsewhere after Ohio State was placed on probation. The Blue Devils were the beneficiary this season. In Cash's Durham debut, he skyrocketed to the All-ACC First Team, fueled by his 117 tackles, eight stops for minus yards, four picks and two forced fumbles. He patrols the field with confidence, smarts and a desire to separate the man from the ball.

S Landon Collins, Alabama
The seeds have been planted for Collins to become the next in a long line of gifted safeties to play for the Tide. He was named by the ‘Bama staff as a defensive player of the week seven times, second only to All-American LB C.J. Mosley. Collins earned Second Team All-SEC honors, stepping up his game after Vinnie Sunseri was lost to injury by making 52 tackles and a team-high six pass breakups.

CB Marcus Peters, Washington
In two seasons with the Huskies, Peters has already exceeded the modest expectations that accompanied his arrival from high school. Sure, he'll look his age on occasion, but he also looks as if he'll be one of the Pac-12's top cover guys in 2014. Peters got close this fall to that goal this fall, picking off five passes, breaking up nine more and landing on the All-Pac-12 Second Team.

Special Teams

PK Marshall Morgan, Georgia
Morgan rebounded from missing the first two games of the year to become one of the nation's most accurate kickers. The All-SEC pick—and Groza Award semifinalist—has performed with accuracy, pop and clutch, nailing 18-of-20 field goals and all of his extra points. Morgan was at his best versus Tennessee, starting the scoring with a 56-yarder and ending it with the game-winner in OT.

P Drew Kaser, Texas A&M
The Aggie D struggled all season long, despite getting a ton of support from Kaser, a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. In just his first season of action, the third-year sophomore ranks second in the country with a gaudy average of 47.3 yards a punt, which would qualify as a Texas A&M record if it stands beyond the bowl game.

Second Team Defense

DE Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida
DE Eli Harold, Virginia
DE Silverberry Mouhon, Cincinnati
DE Noah Spence, Ohio State

LB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State
LB Frank Shannon, Oklahoma
LB Terrance Smith, Florida State

CB Jordan Lucas, Penn State
S Durell Eskridge, Syracuse
S Chris Hackett, TCU
CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State

Special Teams

PK Brad Craddock, Maryland
P Tom Hackett, Utah

Honorable Mention

DL: Caleb Azibuke (Vanderbilt), Travis Britz (Kansas State), Theiren Cockran (Minnesota), Adam Gotsis (Georgia Tech), Darius Hamilton (Rutgers), Cory Littleton (Washington), Ellis McCarthy (UCLA), Dadi Nicolas (Virginia Tech), Shawn Oakman (Baylor), Drew Ott (Iowa), Jamal Palmer (Baylor), Tyler Roberts (Troy), Eddie Yarbrough (Wyoming), Terrell Stanley (East Carolina), Garrett Swanson (Fresno State), Charles Tapper (Oklahoma)

LB: T.T. Barber (Middle Tennessee), Kentrell Brothers (Missouri), Jatavis Brown (Akron), Kyler Fackrell (Utah State), Darreon Herring (Vanderbilt), Ben Ingle (Ball State), Jordan Jenkins (Georgia), Mason Monheim (Illinois), Montese Overton (East Carolina), James Ross (Michigan), David Santos (Nebraska), Jeff Schoettmer (North Carolina), Jason Whittingham (Utah)

DB: Devin Bass (Ohio), Juston Burris (NC State), Kevin Byard (Middle Tennessee), Michael Caputo (Nebraska), Alex Carter (Stanford), Donte Deayon (Boise State), Lorenzo Doss (Tulane), Randall Goforth (UCLA), Tracy Howard (Miami), Isaiah Johnson (Kansas), Jalen Mills (LSU), Fabian Moreau (UCLA), Michael Mudoh (Tulsa), Eric Murray (Minnesota), Brian Randolph (Tennessee), Trevon Stewart (Houston), P.J. Williams (Florida State)

PK: Austin Lopez (San Jose State), John Wallace (Louisville), Josiah Yazdani (Ohio)

P: A.J. Hughes (Virginia Tech), Will Monday (Duke), Nick O'Toole (West Virginia)

- 2013 CFN Sophomore All-America Offense