As the 2012 NCAA football season winds down, the players worthy of individual awards are coming into focus. With as little SEC and Alabama Crimson Tide bias as humanly possible, we’ve cast our ballot for the Football Writers’ Association of America 2102 All-America Offense and Special Teams ballot, and here are our nominees:
Quarterback – AJ McCarron, Alabama
McCarron has completed 66 percent of his passes through 10 games for 2158 yards, with a streak of interception-free passing broken only in last week’s game against Texas A&M. Behind a stellar offensive line (more on that shortly), McCarron has thrown for 20 touchdowns.
Running Backs – Kenjon Barner, Oregon and Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Kenjon Barner has torched opposing defenses this season, rushing for 1360 yards and adding 219 yards receiving. The Oregon senior averages almost 7 yards per carry and has 19 touchdowns on the season.
Winconsin’s Montee Ball has gained 1226 yards on the ground this season and tacked on another 65 yards through the air. He has 16 touchdowns on the year, averaging five yards per carry.
Wide Receivers – Marqise Lee, USC and Stedman Bailey, WVU
Sophomore Marqise Lee has 98 receptions on the year for 1447 yards, including a long of 83 yards. He also has 10 carries for 110 yards. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Lee has 13 touchdowns on the year.
West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey has 1055 yards through the air this season, including a long of 87 yards. He has 16 touchdowns this season and averages just over 14 yards per catch.
Tight End – Zach Ertz, Stanford
Zach Ertz has 47 catches out of the backfield for the Cardinal this season, for a total of 641 yards and 5 touchdowns. Ertz averages over 13 yards per catch.
Offensive Line/Center – Alabama’s O line
Here’s where our regional bias comes in. Our ballot lists Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Anthony Steen and Cyrus Kouandjio as our offensive line nominees, with Barrett Jones as our nominee for Center. Alabama has one of the top units in the nation, and have performed ably all season as a unit. Barrett Jones is a standout leader for the Tide both on and off the field.
Punter – Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech has surprised many by going 9-1 this season and being ranked in the top 25. Punter Ryan Allen has an average punt of over 48 yards, with 1832 yards combined 0n the season.
Kicker – Jeremy Shelley, Alabama
Alabama’s Jeremy Shelley is perfect on extra points and on field goals this year. Shelley has 76 points on the year kicking for the Crimson Tide. His long field goal is 38 yards.
Kick Returner – Jamal Golden, Georgia Tech
Golden has averaged almost 30 yards per kickoff return this season for 563 yards, and has another 183 yards in punt returns. He has two punts returned for touchdowns, with a long of 100 yards.
Outland Trophy – Barrett Jones, Alabama
Alabama’s Barrett Jones already has an Outland Award one his resume, as well as numerous honors in his stellar career. The 6-foot-five, 302-pound lineman has played four positions on the offensive line and excelled at all of them.
National Coach of the Year – Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
In his first season with the Aggies – who in turn are in their first season in the SEC – Sumlin has taken his team to an 8-2 record through 10 games and a top 10 ranking after defeating top-ranked Alabama.