Year after year publications, websites and coaches from every conference in college football give their opinions on preseason all-conference/All-America teams. Well, a couple of years ago, I mentioned something to Lindy’s college football senior editor Anthony Gimino about doing an All-Name Team, which would be made up of good players with original names or nicknames.
Although the All-Name Team has yet to appear in a Lindy’s college football preview, we figured that it would be a fun piece to do in the weeks leading up to the season to create some conversation. It might also be a way to expose some really good players who otherwise may not get the recognition they deserve due to the teams they play on. The players listed below were selected based on the uniqueness of their names and their skills on the field.
With that being said, I give you the 2012 All-Name Team…
2012 All-Name Team
QB – Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, Sr., Michigan: The criteria for the All-Name Team is usually first and last names, but with a nickname like “Shoelace,” Robinson had to grab a spot. Robinson, who earned his nickname by playing with his shoelaces untied since he was 10-years-old, is one of the most dynamic players in college football and one of the Wolverines all-time greats.
RB – Orleans Darkwa, Jr., Tulane: Darkwa isn’t a well-known commodity outside Conference USA, but he put up 924 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore while playing with a partially torn ligament in his toe. You couldn’t have a better first name playing in the state of Louisiana, and, with improved health, Darkwa (6-0, 214) could be a force in a league not known for defense. For all you college fantasy peeps out there, keep an eye on this guy as a sleeper.
RB — Robbie “Mighty Mouse” Rouse, Sr., Fresno State: Rouse earned his nickname before arriving at Fresno State, but now the band plays the Mighty Mouse cartoon theme song at home every time the 5-7, 185-pound back makes a big play. Rouse, who has 3,157 career rushing yards, is just 317 yards shy of becoming the Bulldogs all-time leading rusher.
FB — Niko Palazeti, So., Michigan State: I contemplated Syracuse’s Myles Davis for this slot, but Michigan State Niko Palezeti is the guy I want as my blocker. He enters the season as MichiganState’s starting fullback and he’s a good athlete for his size. He’ll also be working behind a talented offensive line.
WR — Billy Ray Stutzmann, Jr., Hawaii: Hey, you got to love a wideout named Billy Ray right? Last year, the 6-0, 175-pound junior emerged as Hawaii’s top wideout after hauling in 78 receptions for 910 yards and four touchdowns. Although new head coach Norm Chow is shifting Hawaii’s offense from the run-and-shoot to more of a pro-style attack, look for Stutzmann to remain one of the team’s top playmakers.
WR — Keenan Allen, Jr., California: Although Allen’s last name is pretty common, his first name is as unique as his game. Allen (6-3, 206) can play both receiver and cornerback almost equally well, and he’s also one of the country’s most dangerous return men. Keenan racked up 98 receptions for 1,343 yards and six scores a year ago and is potentially a future first-round NFL draft pick.
TE – Philip Lutzenkirchen, Sr., Auburn: After “Lutz,” as he is referred to by Auburn players and fans, scored the game-winning touchdown in a thrilling come-from-behind win against Alabama in 2010, a witty animated cartoon came out which involved former Alabama players Greg McElroy and Julio Jones. The two referred to Lutzenkirchen’s name as German for touchdown-maker.
OL — Oday Aboushi, Sr., Virginia: Aboushi barely missed the cut for our preseason All-America team, and we could regret that at season’s end. Aboushi protects the blindside of Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco, and he has the size (6-6, 310) and athletic ability to have a long and prosperous career in the NFL after his collegiate playing days are over.
OL — Omoregie Uzzi, Sr., Georgia Tech: Uzzi is a Lindy’s preseason second-team All-American and one of the best offensive lineman in college football. The 6-3, 300-pound Uzzi is rated as Lindy’s second-best guard in the nation behind Alabama’s Chance Warmack, and he’s been an All-ACC selection the last two seasons.
OL — Blaize Foltz, Sr., TCU: Yeah, O-linemen aren’t known for their speed, which is way I couldn’t resist having Blaize (6-4, 310) on the All-Name Team. After earning All-Mountain West honors a year ago, Foltz enters the season as a Lindy’s 2012 preseason first-team All-Big 12 selection. He and center James Fry should be stalwarts on a talented TCU offense.
OL — Cyrus Kouandjio, So., Alabama: If you don’t know Kouandjio’s name now, it won’t be long before you do. He (6-3, 309) is the reason Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones is moving from left tackle to center this year to anchor Alabama’s offensive line. Kouandjio, entering his first year as a starter, has the skills to be one of the SEC’s best left tackles.
C — Weston Richburg, Jr., Colorado State: If Richburg (6-4, 302) continues to make strides in his game like he did a year ago, he could literally be “rich” in the not to distant future. He is entering his third year as the team’s starting center and could be one of the top NFL prospects at his position when he leaves CSU. He’s a tough, smart, and tenacious player.
DE — Barkevious Mingo, Jr., LSU: Mingo emerged as a pass-rushing force (eight sacks; 15 tackles for loss) last year for the Tigers and could be in line for an even bigger season in 2012. At 6-5, 240 pounds, he isn’t the biggest defensive end in the SEC, but he’s one of the quickest and most athletic. He had five QB hurries squaring off against a really good Georgia O-line in the SEC title game a year ago.
DT — Mister Cobble, Jr., Kentucky: Cobble is a defensive lineman that may not post big stats (as of yet), but his impact on games is significant due to his sheer size (6-0, 331). Last year he posted 33 tackles, including three for loss, and a sack in his first full year of playing time. Look for him to make big strides this fall; got to love that name for a D-lineman too.
DT — Star Lotulelei, Sr., Utah: Lotulelei, a Lindy’s first-team All-American, burst onto the scene for the Utes last fall and has a chance to be a dominant player in his second year as a starter. The 6-4, 310-pound Lotulelei was a big reason why Utah ranked 20th nationally (113.5 ypg) in run defense a year ago, and his presence should give a lot of Pac-12 foes fits throughout the year.
DE — Stansly Maponga, Jr., TCU: Maponga is a big-time playmaker for the Horned Frogs as evidenced by his nine sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, all team highs. Maponga, an All-Mountain West performer a year ago, may reach All-America status is he continues to wreak havoc on opposing offenses the way he did a year ago.
LB — Steele Divitto, Jr., Boston College: What a perfect name for a linebacker. Grabbed a starting spot last season as a sophomore and tallied 72 tackles, which ranked third on the team. Divitto (6-3, 238) also flashed good range in the passing game by breaking up a team-high five passes and could emerge into a force in his second year at SAM linebacker.
LB — Shayne Skov, Sr., Stanford: Skov is a throwback and one of my favorite college players. His season was abruptly ended last year due to a knee injury, which was a major blow to the Stanford defense, but Skov is back and ready to prove that he’s one of the nation’s top LBs. Although he will have to sit out the season-opener due to an off-field incident, Skov should bounce back into form if he’s fully recovered from his knee injury.
LB — Devekeyan “DeDe” Lattimore, Jr., South Florida: Lattimore may not be a known commodity outside Big East circles, but he’s a gamer. Last year he led the Bulls in tackles (94), tackles for loss (13) and sacks (seven) as a sophomore. He also had a big interception in the 23-20 season-opening win over Notre Dame. Wherever the football is, DeDe is sure to be somewhere close by.
CB — Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu, Jr., LSU: You’ve got to give it to the LSU faithful with the Honey Badger nickname. Not only is it original, but it fits with Mathieu’s tenacious style of play. Despite being one of the smallest guys on the field (5-9, 175), Mathieu always finds ways to make plays. If he has a year similar to last year’s, the Honey Badger may go down as one of the best defender’s to ever play college football. And the Honey Badger might have to care about that.
CB — Marc Anthony, Sr., Cal: This Marc Anthony probably wouldn’t oppose having a few hit songs and dating gorgeous women, but he could have a big future in football with a great senior year. Last year he racked up 38 tackles and finished with a team-high 12 pass break-ups while also recording five tackles for loss and an interception. If he can increase his interceptions and become a lockdown corner, he’ll have a shot at the next level due to his size (6-0, 200) and athletic ability.
S — D.J. Swearinger, Sr., South Carolina: It wouldn’t be surprising to hear that Swearinger has made some opposing coaches swear due to his playmaking ability over the last few years, but he’s a class act on and off the field. Last year he led the Gamecocks in tackles (80) and tied for second on the team with three interceptions. He’s a veteran of the SEC wars and one of South Carolina’s best players.
S — Earl Wolff, Sr., NC State: NC State head coach Tom O’Brien called Wolff the heart of the Wolfpack defense and it’s easy to see why. He’s the team’s leading returning tackler and is currently ranked fifth all-time on the Wolfpack’s fumbles caused list with seven. Wolff, who has already earned his degree in sports management, has been a starter in some capacity since the 2009 season and is poised to make his final season in Raleigh a memorable one.
P — Brian Shmiedebusch, Jr., Bowling Green: Did you know this guy is one of the best punters in all of college football? Yeah, thought so. Last year, Shmiedebusch averaged 45.3 yards per punt, which ranked fifth nationally, and he nailed 19 punts over 50 yards. His 18 punts downed inside the 20 is also a testament to his accuracy.
K — Chandler Catanzaro, Jr., Clemson: Nailed 22 of 27 field goal attempt last year after battling inconsistency during his first year as a starter. Catanzaro doesn’t have a booming leg, but he’s consistently accurate from about 45 yards and in.
AP— De’Anthony “Black Mamba” Thomas, So., Oregon: Thomas earned the nickname “Black Mamba” at age 11 after rapper Snoop Dogg watched him play in his youth league in Los Angeles. Thomas’ playmaking ability is off-the-charts and his blinding speed make him a threat to go the distance every time he has the ball in Oregon’s up-tempo offensive attack. As a freshman, Thomas had 595 yards rushing, 605 yards receiving, 983 kickoff return yards and 18 total touchdowns.