2008 CFN All-Sophomore Defensive Team
Tennessee S Eric Berry
Tennessee S Eric Berry
Posted Dec 11, 2008

Who were the best second year defensive players in college football this season? Tennessee safety Eric Berry was one of the few bright spots in the dismal Volunteer season, and he was the best of the sophomore defenders. Check out the 2008 CollegeFootballNews.com All-Sophomore Defensive Team.

Compiled by Richard Cirminiello 

- CFN Sophomore All-America Teams 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 

- CFN 2008 Sophomore All-America

- CFN 2008 Sophomore All-America 2nd & Honorable Mention Team

- CFN 2008 Freshman All-America Offense
- CFN 2008 Freshman All-America Defense

- CFN 2008 Freshman All-America 2nd & Honorable Mention Team


Defensive Sophomore of the Year: S Eric Berry, Tennessee

DE Aaron Maybin, Penn State – Practically out of nowhere, Maybin blossomed into one of the most destructive defenses forces in all of college football. From a rangy athlete coming out of high school to a 6-4, 236-pound force off the edge, the All-Big Ten first teamer abused helpless opposing tackles to the tune of 45 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and a league-best dozen sacks. Maybin has yet to be held without a tackle behind the line of scrimmage in a game this fall.    

DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma – McCoy plays as if he’s channeling former Sooner Tommie Harris, which means the NFL will scoop him up with a high pick before too long. The total package for a defensive tackle at 6-4 and 295 pounds, he can rush the passer just as easily as he closes off running lanes. A member of this year’s All-Big 12 first team, McCoy has gobbled up 26 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and countless double teams.

DT Brian Price, UCLA – Good players can sometimes get overshadowed by bad teams. That’s not the case with Price, who stood out all year as one of the Pac-10’s top interior linemen. A next level player, he’s got the brute strength and quickness to shoot the gaps that were often too much for opposing blockers to handle. Of Price’s 35 tackles, 14 were behind the line, a testament to his explosiveness and non-stop motor. 

DE Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma – Beal picked up the slack for the Sooner pass rush in a huge way, especially after Auston English went down with an injury in early November. Blessed with good size and even better closing speed, the All-Big 12 second teamer heads into the national title game with 54 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles.       

LB Rolando McClain, Alabama – An ideal fit at inside linebacker for Nick Saban, McClain blends physical toughness with keen instincts to be one of the best in the country at his position. A load to block at 6-4 and 250 pounds, the Butkus Award finalist leads the Tide with 91 tackles and 11 tackles for loss. Since the NFL will have to wait one more season to get him, McClain will enter 2009 as one of the top linebackers in the country.

LB Greg Jones, Michigan State – No one has benefited from the arrival of defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi more than Jones, who’s been a tackling machine in two seasons. A member of the All-Big 10 first team, he used his blazing wheels and nose for the ball to lead the Spartans with 115 stops and 12.5 tackles for loss, while picking up a pair of sacks along the way.     

LB Rennie Curran, Georgia – Don’t be fooled by Curran’s size, a modest 5-10 and 220 pounds for a linebacker. While not tall, he surely isn’t small and is pound-for-pound, the strongest of the Bulldogs. A disruptive force who sheds blockers well, the All-SEC selection leads Georgia with 109 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and three sacks. When coordinator Willie Martinez wants to dial up some pressure, No. 35 is usually the Dawg getting the call.     

CB Dominique Franks, Oklahoma – The Sooner secondary wasn’t without its breakdowns this season, but Franks made enough big plays to compensate. Arguably the team’s best cover corner and an All-Big 12 second team pick, he’s tallied 41 tackles, 14 passes defended, and four picks. When Michael Crabtree was being contained in the rout of Texas Tech, Franks was enjoying one of his best games of the season.         

S Eric Berry, Tennessee – Berry is one of those rare, Deion-like athletes who’s capable of changing the direction of a game from his side of the ball. An electrifying defensive back with the ball skills of a Biletnikoff Award candidate, he was the best thing in Knoxville this fall. Berry finished his second season with 72 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, and a nation’s-leading seven interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.    

S Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech – It didn’t matter whether Burnett was being lined up at safety at cornerback; he was going to make big plays from any spot on the field. A tremendous athlete with ideal 6-1, 200-pound size, he’s halfway to a promising career in the NFL. Not only does Burnett lead the Yellow Jackets with 79 tackles, but he also has seven interceptions, which is tied with Tennessee’s Eric Berry for No. 1 in the country.   

CB Joe Haden, Florida – Haden is one of the microcosms of the transformation that’s taken place on the Gator defense in 2008. Young, unsure, and at times vulnerable as a freshman, he really took off this season, playing his way on to the All-SEC second team. One of the key components of the nation’s No. 2 pass efficiency, Haden has chalked up 77 tackles, including a team-high 54 solos, 13 passes defended, and three interceptions.        

Special Teams

PK Kai Forbath, UCLA – Even as the rest of the Bruins struggled, there was no sophomore slump from Forbath. As an encore to a brilliant Freshman All-American season, he connected on 19-of-22 field goal tries, giving him an 85% accuracy rate through two seasons.

P Keenyn Crier, Arizona – Crier is at it again, booming his way to a spot on the All-Pac-10 team with an average of just over 44 yards a punt. More than just missile-launcher, he gets nice hang time on his kicks and continues to improve with his directional punts.