Nevada Wolf Pack’s Vai Taua named third team All-American
Nevada running back Vai Taua has been named a third team All-American by The Associated Press. Taua led the Pack with 1,546 yards rushing with 19 scores. He also caught 15 passes for another 216 yards and three scores. Taua was fifth in the nation among running baks with 127.83 yards a game.
The Nevada senior joins Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley who were voted to The Associated Press All-America first team along with Oregon running back LaMichael James, who will face Auburn in the BCS title game in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 10.
Auburn is one of five teams with two players on the first team.
Wisconsin had two players from its excellent offensive line: Outland Trophy winning tackle Gabe Carimi and guard John Moffitt.
Oklahoma State, with the nation’s No. 1 offense, placed wide receiver Justin Blackmon and running back Kendall Hunter on the first team. Not to be outdone, rival Oklahoma, which edged out the Cowboys for the Big 12 South title, had receiver Ryan Broyles and safety Quinton Carter on the team.
Big 12 North champion Nebraska also had two All-Americans: cornerback Prince Amukamara and kicker Alex Henery.
But no team had two more dominant players this season than Auburn.
Newton, in his first season with the Tigers after transferring from junior college, became the first quarterback in Southeastern Conference history to reach 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season. He also accounted for 49 touchdowns (28 passing, 20 rushing and one receiving).
“We knew and understood he was talented, but we didn’t realize he could do things on his own that a defense just can’t account for,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said.
“There were times we knew we’d called a bad play and 50 yards later Cam would have made it look good.”
Newton was practically unstoppable and Fairley was nearly unblockable.
“He’s played on the other side of the line of scrimmage and that’s what you want from your guys up front,” Chizik said.
The 295-pound junior led Auburn with 10 1/2 sacks and 21 tackles for loss, blossoming into one of the best defensive tackles into the country after starting just two games in 2009.
Chizik said it took Fairley, another junior college transfer, a season to adjust to playing in the SEC.
“He’s come a million miles from where he was last year,” he said.
Both of Auburn’s All-Americans also drew some negative attention this season.
The NCAA investigated Newton’s recruitment and determined that his father tried to get Mississippi State to pay for his son to play for the Bulldogs. Newton was allowed to keep playing.
Fairley drew criticism for being a dirty player, especially after he hit Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in the back with his helmet.
Those issues aside, Newton and Fairley are the biggest reasons Auburn, which started the season ranked No. 22, is unbeaten and in position to win its first national title since 1957.
Auburn also had tackle Lee Ziemba voted to second team and center Ryan Pugh on the third team.
No. 2 Oregon was represented on the three AP All-America teams by James, who led the nation in rushing at 153 yards per game and finished third in the Heisman voting, and cornerback Cliff Harris, a second-team selection.
Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford was the second-team quarterback, finishing behind Newton again. Kellen Moore of Boise State, the other Heisman finalist, was the third-team quarterback for the second straight year.
Joining the two big Badgers on the first-team offensive line were Florida State guard Rodney Hudson, Colorado tackle Nate Solder and Stanford center Chase Beeler. Missouri’s Michael Egnew was the tight end.
Kentucky’s versatile star Randall Cobb was the first-team all-purpose player. He ran for 401 yards, had 955 yards receiving and also returned kickoffs and punts.
Joining Fairley on the defensive line were Clemson end Da’Quan Bowers , who led the country with 15 1/2 sacks, Purdue end Ryan Kerrigan, whose 26 tackles for loss were tops in the nation, and Oregon State tackle Stephen Paea, the Pac-10 defensive player of the year.
Linebacker Greg Jones of Michigan State was the only player to make the first team for a second consecutive season. Boston College’s Luke Kuechley, the nation’s leading tackler with 171, and Texas A&M’s Von Miller were the other linebackers.
Filling out the secondary were LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and TCU safety Tejay Johnson.
The punter was Chas Henry of Florida.
Quarterback – Cam Newton, junior, 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Auburn.
Running backs – LaMichael James, sophomore, 5-9, 185, Oregon; Kendall Hunter, junior, 5-9, 200, Oklahoma State.
Tackles – Gabe Carimi, senior, 6-7, 327, Wisconsin; Nate Solder, senior, 6-9, 315, Colorado.
Guards – Rodney Hudson, senior, 6-2, 282, Florida State; John Moffitt, senior, 6-5, 323, Wisconsin.
Center – Chase Beeler, senior, 6-3, 285, Stanford.
Tight end – Michael Egnew, junior, 6-6, 235, Missouri.
Wide receivers – Justin Blackmon, sophomore, 6-1, 205, Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, junior, 5-11, 183, Oklahoma.
All-purpose player – Randall Cobb, junior, 5-11, 186, Kentucky.
Kicker – Alex Henery, senior, 6-2, 175, Nebraska.
Ends – Da’Quan Bowers, junior, 6-4, 275, Clemson; Ryan Kerrigan, senior, 6-4, 263, Purdue.
Tackles – Nick Fairley, junior, 6-5, 298, Auburn; Stephen Paea, senior, 6-1, 311, Oregon State.
Linebackers – Luke Kuechly, sophomore, 6-3, 235, Boston College; Greg Jones, senior, 6-1, 240, Michigan State; Von Miller, senior, 6-3, 243, Texas A&M.
Cornerbacks – Patrick Peterson, junior, 6-1, 222, LSU; Prince Amukamara, senior, 6-1, 205, Nebraska.
Safeties – Tejay Johnson, senior, 6-1, 212, TCU; Quinton Carter, senior, 6-1, 200, Oklahoma.
Punter – Chas Henry, junior, 6-3, 222, Florida.
Quarterback – Andrew Luck, sophomore, Stanford.
Running backs – Jordan Todman, junior, Connecticut; Mikel Leshoure, junior, Illinois.
Tackles – Lee Ziemba, senior, Auburn; Derek Sherrod, senior, Mississippi State.
Guards – Stefen Wisniewski, senior, Penn State; Justin Boren, senior, Ohio State.
Center – Jake Kirkpatrick, senior, TCU.
Tight end – Lance Kendricks, senior, Wisconsin.
Wide receivers – Alshon Jeffrey, sophomore, South Carolina; Julio Jones, junior, Alabama.
All-purpose player – Damaris Johnson, junior, Tulsa.
Kicker – Dan Bailey, senior, Oklahoma State.
Ends – J.J. Watt, junior, Wisconsin; Jeremy Beal, senior, Oklahoma.
Tackles – Drake Nevis, senior, LSU; Jared Crick, junior, Nebraska.
Linebackers – Tank Carder, junior, TCU; Justin Houston, junior, Georgia; Lavonte David, junior, Nebraska.
Cornerbacks – Jayron Hosley, sophomore, Virginia Tech; Cliff Harris, sophomore, Oregon.
Safeties – Mark Barron, junior, Alabama; Ahmad Black, senior, Florida.
Punter – Drew Butler, junior, Georgia.
Quarterback – Kellen Moore, junior, Boise State.
Running backs – Vai Taua, senior, Nevada; John Clay, junior, Wisconsin.
Tackles – Anthony Castonzo, senior, Boston College; Nate Potter, junior, Boise State.
Guards – Barrett Jones, sophomore, Alabama; Caleb, Schlauderaff, senior, Utah.
Center – Ryan Pugh, senior, Auburn.
Tight end – D.J. Williams, senior, Arkansas.
Wide receivers – Greg Salas, sophomore, Hawaii; Titus Young, senior, Boise State.
All-purpose player – Denard Robinson, sophomore, Michigan.
Kicker – Dannny Hrapmann, junior, Southern Mississippi.
Ends – Adrian Clayborn, senior, Iowa; Sam Acho, senior, Texas.
Tackles – Billy Winn, junior, Boise State; Marcell Dareus, junior, Alabama.
Linebackers – Mason Foster, senior, Washington; Nate Irving, senior, North Carolina State; Akeem Ayers, junior, UCLA.
Cornerbacks – Reggie Rembert, senior, Air Force; Stephon Gilmore, freshman, South Carolina.
Safeties – Rahim Moore, junior, UCLA; Eric Hagg, senior, Nebraska.
Punter – Kyle Martens, junior, Rice.