With a lot of nominees on both sides of the ball, and at multiple positions, we’ve decided to break up our All-American coverage into two separate articles. One dedicated for the offensive side of the ball, and another dedicated to defense and special teams. This article is for the playmakers on offense, and there were several this season.
QB: CLAYTON DENNY, TEXAS
The gunslinger of the Wild West showed off that cannon from week one and on. Massive plays, shots downfield, and some really impressive numbers. His first five games of the season were on par with what CFSL legend Ray Tatum accomplished in his first five games of his freshman campaign.
And yet, Notre Dame’s Leo Asiata, Auburn’s Griffin Jelkic, LSU’s Gage Youngblood, and Clemson’s Will Slay were all a part of the conversation and deservedly so. Youngblood and his numbers trying to match Denny, while Asiata slowly found his rhythm and chemistry with one of the greatest receivers to play the game in Dijon Swann. Jelkic continued his red-hot pace coming off a National Championship run and Will Slay was never really denied his (see Alabama vs. Clemson). But still, Denny’s prolific season could not be overshadowed, and certainly not in the minds of you, the voters.
HB: Dior Chapman, MICH & Marcus Duncan, mia
Two dynamic talents burst onto the scene this season, and both played a similar style of ball. Dior Chapman and Marcus Duncan can do it all. They’ve shown power, burst, speed, and the ability to catch the ball. They can make guys miss or run right through them and are exceptional in the open field. Auburn’s Robert Davis, Florida State’s Vidar Lund, and Clemson’s Dane Jones were also nominated for this distinction. While Davis had to learn how to share the spotlight with a very talented Auburn offense, Lund was more utilized than he seemingly had been with Notre Dame, and was paired up with a scheme that seemed to fit him, but he did have a sluggish start.
Clemson’s Dane Jones is the peculiar case in this bunch. He arrived for just three games, but had more rushing touchdowns than Davis did this season. What a full season could do for Dane Jones is absolutely terrifying to consider, but for now, Chapman and Duncan have the spotlight on them to see who will finish with a better career as they’re from the same recruiting class.
WR: Lord Helix, TEXas; Brayden ENNIS, OSU; Ray Conley, Texas
The wide receiver class for All-American is always a tricky one to parse out. After all, you can control the talent of your receiver, but you’re also at the mercy of the scheme, the quarterback, and the corner facing you who may be as if not more talented. Still, the receivers nominated this season were fantastic, and we had nine candidates. Clemson, Notre Dame, LSU, Oregon, Miami, and USC were the other schools who were represented in this wide receiver class, but these three were truly special. Conley and Helix had to share the load, but in the Texas offense they were maestros at the deep ball and in the redzone. Ennis was the guy for Ohio State, the one dependent target that Buckeye quarterback Jefferson Allen could lean on. We say goodbye to Helix and Conley, but are eager to see what Ennis will do next.
TE: Marcus Buford, LSU
Tight end is one of the more difficult positions to play, and it’s changing in the league. Tight end has not been often utilized, but over the last couple of seasons it has become much more of a dependent target. Notre Dame’s Alistair Kye was among the oldest of the tight ends, but it was guys like Auburn’s Michael McKenzie and Alabama’s Houston Freeman who have really popularized it. McKenzie was a dominant receiving threat last season, while Freeman is making a name for himself as the Pancake King (even if he’s a ways away from catching Dijon Swann). Ohio State’s Brett Kauffman was nominated as well as McKenzie, Freeman, and Kye, but Buford was special this season. He had a game of 15 catches and over 200 yards receiving which was insane for a tight end. Between Buford, McKenzie, and Freeman, the tight end is becoming a very popular staple of the CFSL.