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LSU corners market on All-Americans

RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer

NEW YORK – LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne became the first cornerback teammates to lock down spots on the AP All-America team.

Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist, and Claiborne were joined on the All-America team by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor and finalists Montee Ball of Wisconsin and Trent Richardson of Alabama.

Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck from Stanford was the second-team quarterback.

The team released Wednesday was selected by a panel of 16 AP poll voters.

The second-ranked Crimson Tide had the most first-teamers with four. Richardson was joined by tackle Barrett Jones, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Mark Barron. Tide linebackers Courtney Upshaw and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick also made the second team, leaving Alabama tied with No. 3 Oklahoma State for the most players selected overall.

The LSU duo was joined on the first team by Tigers punter Brad Wing. LSU guard Will Blackwell was a second-team selection and defensive end Sam Montgomery made the third team.

The top-ranked Tigers will play SEC West rival Alabama on Jan. 9 in New Orleans for the BCS title.

Since the AP began selecting both an offensive and defensive team in 1964, no team had put a pair of cornerbacks on the first team. Of course, few teams have had two cornerbacks as talented as Mathieu and Claiborne.

Mathieu, also known as Honey Badger, has been a mayhem-maker for LSU on defense and special teams. He forced five fumbles, intercepted two passes and scored four touchdowns – two on punt returns, two on fumble returns. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound sophomore also had 71 tackles and was versatile enough to be moved around the defense at times.

Claiborne is a prototypical shutdown corner. The 6-1 junior made six interceptions and averaged 29 yards per return, with a touchdown.

“We have one of the best defenses in the country,” Mathieu said. “We’ve got a lot of NFL talent in our secondary, and our defense as a whole.”

The talented tandem was a major reason why LSU (13-0) heads to the BCS national championship game against Alabama with a pass defense ranked third in opponents’ efficiency, ninth in yards allowed per game and second in fewest touchdown passes allowed.

Oklahoma State also had six selections on the three teams, including wide receiver Justin Blackmon, one of two players to be selected to the first team for the second straight season. Blackmon caught 113 passes for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The Cowboys also placed safety Markelle Martin on the second team, and center Grant Garner, tackle Levy Adcock, cornerback Brodrick Brown and kicker Quinn Sharp on the third team

Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, the nation’s leading tackler at 15.9 per game, is the other two-time All-American on this year’s team.

On defense, three Big Ten defensive linemen made the All-America team: 300-pound tackles Devon Still from Penn State and Jerel Worthy from Michigan State, along with Illinois end Whitney Mercilus, who leads the nation with 14 1-2 sacks.

South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram was the other defensive end. Georgia had two defensive All-Americans in safety Baccari Rambo and linebacker Jarvis Jones.

Seven of the 11 All-America defensive players were from the Southeastern Conference, befitting its reputation as the best league in the nation.

AP All-America Team, List

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Robert Griffin III, junior, 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Baylor.

Running backs – Montee Ball, junior, 5-11, 210, Wisconsin; Trent Richardson, junior, 5-11, 224, Alabama.

Tackles – Barrett Jones, senior, 6-5, 311, Alabama; Matt Kalil, junior, 6-7, 295, Southern California.

Guards – David DeCastro, senior, 6-5, 310, Stanford; Kevin Zeitler, senior, 6-4, 318, Wisconsin.

Center – David Molk, senior, 6-2, 286, Michigan.

Wide receivers – Justin Blackmon, junior, 6-1, 215, Oklahoma State; Robert Woods, sophomore, 6-1, 180, Southern California.

Tight end – Dwayne Allen, junior, 6-4, 255, Clemson.

All-purpose player – Sammy Watkins, freshman, 6-1, 180, Clemson.

Kicker – Randy Bullock, senior, 5-9, 212, Texas A&M.

DEFENSE

Ends – Melvin Ingram, senior, 6-2, 276, South Carolina; Whitney Mercilus, junior, 6-4, 265, Illinois.

Tackles – Devon Still, senior, 6-5, 310, Penn State; Jerel Worthy, junior, 6-3, 310, Michigan State.

Linebackers – Luke Kuechly, junior, 6-3, 237, Boston College; Jarvis Jones, sophomore, 6-3, 241, Georgia; Dont’a Hightower, junior, 6-4, 260, Alabama.

Cornerbacks – Morris Claiborne, junior, 6-0, 185, LSU; Tyrann Mathieu, sophomore, 5-9, 175, LSU.

Safeties – Mark Barron, senior, 6-2, 218, Alabama; Bacarri Rambo, junior, 6-0, 218, Georgia.

Punter – Brad Wing, freshman, 6-3, 184, LSU.

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SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Andrew Luck, junior, Stanford.

Running backs – LaMichael James, junior, Oregon; David Wilson, junior, Virginia Tech.

Tackles – Jonathan Martin, senior, Stanford; Nate Potter, senior, Boise State.

Guards -Will Blackwell, senior, LSU; Austin Pazstor, senior, Virginia.

Center – Peter Konz, junior, Wisconsin.

Wide receivers – Ryan Broyles, senior, Oklahoma; Kendall Wright, senior, Baylor.

Tight end – Tyler Eifert, junior, Notre Dame.

All-purpose player – Joe Adams, senior, Arkansas.

Kicker – Caleb Sturgis, junior, Florida.

DEFENSE

Ends – Frank Alexander, senior, Oklahoma; Vinny Curry, senior, Marshall.

Tackles – Joe Vellano, junior, Maryland; Derek Wolfe, senior, Cincinnati.

Linebackers – Courtney Upshaw, senior, Alabama; Lavonte David, senior, Nebraska; Manti Teo, junior, Notre Dame.

Cornerbacks – David Amerson, sophomore, North Carolina State; Dre Kirkpatrick, junior, Alabama.

Safeties – Markelle Martin, senior, Oklahoma State; Antonio Allen, senior, South Carolina.

Punter – Ryan Allen, junior, Louisiana Tech.

THIRD TEAM

Quarterback – Matt Barkley, junior, Southern California.

Running backs – Ronnie Hillman, sophomore, San Diego State; Bobby Rainey, senior, Western Kentucky.

Tackles – Levy Adcock, senior, Oklahoma State; Cordy Glenn, senior, Georgia.

Guards – Ryan Miller, senior, Colorado; Gabe Ikard, sophomore, Oklahoma.

Center – Grant Garner, senior, Oklahoma State.

Wide receivers – Jordan White, senior, Western Michigan; Patrick Edwards, senior, Houston.

Tight end – Coby Fleener, senior, Stanford.

All-purpose player – Tavon Austin, junior, West Virginia.

Kicker – Quinn Sharp, junior, Oklahoma State.

DEFENSE

Ends – Sam Montgomery, sophomore, LSU; Andre Branch, senior, Clemson.

Tackles – John Simon, junior, Ohio State; Fletcher Cox, junior, Mississippi State.

Linebackers – Tank Carder, senior, TCU; Sammy Brown, senior, Houston; Emmanuel Acho, senior, Texas.

Cornerbacks – Nigel Malone, junior, Kansas State; Brodrick Brown, junior, Oklahoma State.

Safeties – Josh Bush, senior, Wake Forest; George Iloka, senior, Boise State.

Punter – Shawn Powell, senior, Florida State.