AP All-America team: Young and Tide lead with 3 1st teamers

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Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and Alabama teammates Will Anderson Jr. and Jameson Williams have been selected All-Americans by The Associated Press, giving the top-ranked Crimson Tide more players on the first team than any other school.

The AP All-America team presented by Regions Bank was selected by a panel of Top 25 college football poll voters

Young became the fourth Alabama player, and first Tide quarterback, to win the Heisman on Saturday night. Anderson, who leads the nation in sacks with 15.5, was fifth in the Heisman voting.

Alabama (12-1) will face No. 4 Cincinnati (13-0) in the College Football Playoff semifinals Dec. 31.

The Tide will bring five players who received AP All-American honors into their playoff game. Tackle Evan Neal made the second team and safety Jordan Battle was a third-team selection.

Cincinnati is represented on the first team by cornerback Ahmad Gardner, who was a second-team All-American last season. Fellow Bearcats cornerback Coby Bryant made the second team.

The other playoff semifinal on New Year’s Eve, No. 2 Michigan (12-1) against No. 3 Georgia (12-1), will feature four more first-team All-Americans.

Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, the Heisman runner-up, and kicker Jake Moody are All-Americans for the Wolverines. Georgia’s top-ranked defense is represented by defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean.

Michigan linebacker David Ojabo was chosen for the second team and running back Hassan Haskins was a third-team selection.

Georgia matched Alabama with five players across the three teams. Defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt and freshman tight end Brock Bowers made the second team and safety Lewis Cine was a third-team choice.

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett made the second team and fellow Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud from Ohio State was the third-team QB.

Iowa State running back Breece Hall is the only player to repeat as a first-team AP All-American this season.

Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum and Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green each were first-team selections this season after making the second team in 2020.

Kentucky tackle Darian Kinnard and Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux went from third-team in 2020 to first-team in 2021.

The AP added two players, one on each side of the ball, to the teams this year, the first change to the All-America structure since 2006. To reflect a game that features more passing than ever before – plus more schools playing major college football — the offenses now feature three receivers and the defenses include an extra defensive back.

With more receiver spots to fill, Ohio State became the first school to have three wideouts earn All-America honors in the same season. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson made the second team and Jaxon Smith-Njigba was a third-team pick.

Add in Alabama’s Williams, an Ohio State transfer, and four receivers who played for the Buckeyes in 2020 made the AP All-America teams.

The Buckeyes led all schools, placing eight players on the three teams. Joining the three receivers and Stroud were offensive linemen Thayer Munford and Nichola Petit-Frere, defensive lineman Haskell Garrett and kicker Noah Ruggles, who all made the second team.

BREAKDOWN

First-teamers by school

Alabama – 3.

Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, Texas A&M – 2.

Auburn, Baylor, Boston College, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Houston, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, San Diego State, Utah – 1.

First-teamers by conference

SEC – 9.

Big Ten – 5.

Pac-12 – 3.

ACC – 3.

Big 12 – 3.

American – 2.

Mountain West – 2.

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Bryce Young, sophomore, Alabama.

Running backs – Kenneth Walker III, junior, Michigan State; Breece Hall, junior, Iowa State.

Tackles – Ikem Ekwonu, junior, North Carolina State; Darian Kinnard, senior, Kentucky.

Guards -Kenyon Green, junior, Texas A&M; Zion Johnson, senior, Boston College.

Center – Tyler Linderbaum, junior, Iowa.

Tight end – Trey McBride, senior, Colorado State.

Receivers – Jordan Addison, sophomore, Pittsburgh; David Bell, junior, Purdue; Jameson Williams, junior, Alabama.

All-purpose player – Deuce Vaughn, sophomore, Kansas State.

Kicker – Jake Moody, senior, Michigan.

DEFENSE

Edge rushers – Aidan Hutchinson, senior, Michigan; Kayvon Thibodeaux, junior, Oregon.

Linemen – Jordan Davis, senior, Georgia; DeMarvin Leal, junior, Texas A&M.

Linebackers – Will Anderson, Jr., sophomore, Alabama; Nakobe Dean, junior, Georgia; Devin Lloyd, junior, Utah.

Cornerbacks – Ahmad Gardner, junior, Cincinnati; Roger McCreary, senior, Auburn.

Safeties – Verone McKinley III, sophomore, Oregon; Jalen Pitre, senior, Baylor.

Defensive back – Marcus Jones, senior, Houston.

Punter – Matt Araiza, junior, San Diego State.

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Kenny Pickett, senior, Pittsburgh.

Running backs – Sean Tucker, sophomore, Syracuse; Tyler Badie, senior, Missouri.

Tackles – Evan Neal, junior, Alabama; Nicholas Petit-Frere, junior, Ohio State.

Guards – Thayer Munford, senior, Ohio State; William Dunkle, junior, San Diego State.

Center – Alec Lindstrom, senior, Boston College.

Tight end – Brock Bowers, freshman, Georgia.

Receivers – Chris Olave, senior, Ohio State; Garrett Wilson, junior, Ohio State; Jerreth Sterns, junior, Western Kentucky.

All-purpose player – Jahmyr Gibbs, sophomore, Georgia Tech.

Kicker – Noah Ruggles, senior, Ohio State.

DEFENSE

Edge rushers –Jermaine Johnson, senior, Florida State; Cameron Thomas, junior, San Diego State.

Linemen – Devonte Wyatt, senior, Georgia; Haskell Garrett, senior, Ohio State.

Linebackers – Malcolm Rodriguez, senior, Oklahoma State; Leo Chenal, junior, Wisconsin; David Ojabo, junior, Michigan.

Cornerbacks – Coby Bryant, senior, Cincinnati; Ja’Quan McMillian, junior, East Carolina.

Safeties – Jaquan Brisker, senior, Penn State; Kyle Hamilton, junior, Notre Dame.

Defensive back – JoJo Domann, senior, Nebraska.

Punter – Adam Korsak, senior, Rutgers.

THIRD TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback – C.J. Stroud, redshirt freshman, Ohio State.

Running backs – Hassan Haskins, senior, Michigan; Sincere McCormick, junior, UTSA.

Tackles – Connor Galvin, senior, Baylor, Max Mitchell, senior, Louisiana-Lafayette.

Guards –Andrew Vorhees, senior, Southern California; Josh Seltzner, senior, Wisconsin.

Center – Michael Maietti, senior, Missouri.

Tight end – Michael Mayer, sophomore, Notre Dame.

Receivers – Drake London, junior, Southern California; Jaxon Smith-Njigba, sophomore, Ohio State; Jahan Dotson, senior, Penn State.

All-purpose player – Deven Thompkins, senior, Utah State.

Kicker – Caleb Shudak, senior, Iowa.

DEFENSE

Edge rushers – Will McDonald IV, junior, Iowa State; Sam Williams, senior, Mississippi.

Linemen – Calijah Kancey, sophomore, Pittsburgh; George Karlaftis, junior, Purdue.

Linebackers – Chad Muma, senior, Wyoming; Nik Bonitto, junior, Oklahoma; Andre Carter II, junior, Army.

Cornerbacks – Riley Moss, senior, Iowa; Trent McDuffie, junior, Washington.

Safeties – Jordan Battle, junior, Alabama; Lewis Cine, junior, Georgia.

Defensive back – Kolby Harvell-Peel, senior, Oklahoma State.

Punter – Jordan Stout, senior, Penn State.

Lane Kiffin staying at Ole Miss with ‘a lot of work left to do’

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
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Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin says he has informed school officials he will be staying at Ole Miss, putting an end to speculation that he was the leading candidate to fill the head coaching vacancy at Auburn.

“Same as I said last week: I’m staying here and we have a lot of work left to do,” Kiffin told The Associated Press in a voice message.

Kiffin added he has not signed a contract extension with the school.

The 47-year-old Kiffin is 23-12 in three seasons as Rebels coach. No. 20 Mississippi finished its regular season 8-4, losing four of its last five, including a 24-22 loss to Mississippi State.

Auburn was playing at No. 8 Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and its coaching search figured to heat up soon after its season concluded.

Auburn fired coach Bryan Harsin earlier this month and has gone 2-1 since under interim coach Carnell Williams, the former star running back for the Tigers.

With Kiffin off the market, Auburn is eyeing a former Mississippi coach to be its next coach.

A person familiar with the search told the AP that Auburn is interested in Liberty coach Hugh Freeze. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Auburn was not making details of its search public.

Freeze coached at Ole Miss for five seasons before leaving in disgrace in 2017 after the school discovered he used a university cellphone to call an escort service.

He landed at Liberty and has gone 34-14 in four seasons with the Flames.

Nebraska signs Matt Rhule to 8-year deal

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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After six straight losing seasons and more than 20 years removed from its 1990s heyday, Nebraska is turning to Matt Rhule to rebuild its program and make it competitive in the Big Ten Conference.

Rhule signed an eight-year contract to be the Cornhuskers’ next coach and will be introduced at a news conference, the school announced.

The 47-year-old Rhule quickly turned around downtrodden programs at Temple and Baylor before leaving for the NFL to coach the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fired him in October after he started his third season with four losses in five games.

“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead the Nebraska football program,” Rhule said in a statement. “When you think of great, tradition-rich programs in college football, Nebraska is right at the top of the list. The fan base is second to none, and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to coach in Memorial Stadium on Tom Osborne Field. My family and I are so grateful to become a part of the Husker Family, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Rhule was 11-27 with Carolina and left with about $40 million remaining on the seven-year, guaranteed $62 million contract he signed in 2020. The contract made Rhule the sixth-highest paid coach in the NFL when he signed in 2020, according to Forbes.

Nebraska said it would release details of Rhule’s contract.

“It is a privilege to welcome Coach Matt Rhule, his wife, Julie, and their family to Nebraska,” athletic director Trev Alberts said. “Coach Rhule has created a winning culture throughout his coaching career, and he will provide great leadership for the young men in our football program.

“Matt is detail-oriented, his teams are disciplined and play a physical brand of football. Matt also has the personality and relationship-building skills to build a great staff and excel in recruiting.”

About an hour after Rhule’s hiring was announced, wide receiver Trey Palmer announced on Instagram that he would declare for the NFL draft. Palmer, who transferred from LSU after last season, had three 150-yard games this year and set the Huskers’ single-season record with 1,043 yards.

The Huskers are among eight Football Bowl Subdivision programs with at least 900 wins, and they have won or shared five national championships. The last one came in 1997 under Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne.

Five coaches have come and gone since then, most recently the quarterback of that ’97 team, Scott Frost.

Alberts fired Frost on Sept. 11 after the Huskers opened 1-2, with losses to Northwestern in Ireland and to Georgia Southern at home. They were 3-6 under interim coach Mickey Joseph and finished the season 4-8 following a 24-17 win at Iowa.

Nebraska was 16-31 in four-plus seasons under Frost, never finishing higher than fifth in the Big Ten West or going to a bowl.

In four seasons at Temple, Rhule coached the Owls to 28 wins. That included 26 from 2014-16. Temple was 10-4 in 2015 and reached the American Athletic Conference’s inaugural championship game. In 2016, Rhule led the Owls to a 10-3 record and an AAC championship. The conference title was the first in 49 seasons for the Temple program, and the Owls reached bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.

Rhule was named Baylor’s coach in December 2016 in the wake of an investigation that found the private Baptist university had not responded adequately to allegations of sexual assault by players, resulting in the firing of Art Briles.

Rhule’s trajectory was similar at Baylor, where he went from 1-11 in 2017 to 7-6 with a bowl game the next season. In his third and final season, Baylor was ranked in the top 10, played in the Big 12 championship game and finished 11-3 after a Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia.

Rhule’s collegiate success provided him the opportunity to take over as the Carolina Panthers’ head coach in 2020. He guided the Panthers to five wins in each of his first two seasons before this year’s 1-4 start got him fired.

Rhule has ties to the Big Ten. He moved from New York City to State College, Pennsylvania, as a teenager. He played linebacker at Penn State from 1994-97 and began his coaching there as a volunteer assistant.