Posted by Frazier
Ok, so ESPN just named their all-american team. I'd normally include the link, but you can just check out their website. I'm sure all our faithful readers can find it.
Not a bad list. There aren't a ton you can really complain about. Not necessarily the choices we would have made (our own all-323 team will be announced soon). But there's one position where ESPN totally spit the bit. That position is, obviously, at wide receiver.
Their starters were Jarrett Dillard of Rice and Robert Meachem of Tennessee. What?! Excuse me, but that's insane.
Now, Dillard has plenty of nice numbers, but as a receiver playing against second-tier competition, I'm just not sold. His 20 touchdowns are startling, but once again, he didn't exactly play against top corners every week. And while he had great numbers against Texas and Florida St. it's easy enough to do that when your team is getting blown out. They lost those games by a combined 107-14. I don't think the 'Horns or 'Noles were particularly worried about Dillard or his touches.
Meachem is even more confusing. He had 67 catches for 1265 yards and 11 touchdowns. A pretty good season by any measure. Of course, Calvin Johnson had 67 catches for 1018 yards and 13 touchdowns. So those are pretty comparable. But the real difference is... Calvin Johnson is a top five pick in the draft, and possibly the best player in the nation! Every coach in the country would trade Meachem for Johnson a thousand times over. There is no argument that Meachem is, in fact, a better player. It's just that Meachem got a couple of more yards? It isn't a statistical prize, you morons! Absolutely startling.
So, Johnson should be a lock for the team. He might be the best player in the country, he showed that skill, has excellent numbers, and did it all with Reggie Ball at the helm. Now, he had a couple of games where maybe he wasn't great, but you can blame his quarterback for that. Basically, teams game-planned around his incredible skills. Putting Meachem above Johnson is an absolute travesty.
As for the other slot, well, there are plenty of options. The obvious answer is, of course, Dwayne Jarrett. Now, Jarrett didn't even lead his team in receiving, so there is a legitimate argument to leaving him off. Now, for my money he is every bit as good as Johnson, and every coach in the country would trade their top receiver for Jarrett, except for Chan Gailey. Still, if you insist upon leaving Jarrett off, there are plenty of other deserving options.
What about DJ Hall at Alabama? He's having a great season, and was definitely their top threat. Malcolm Kelly was huge in saving Oklahoma's season. DeSean Jackson was a home run threat every time out for Cal. Jeff Samardzija was everyone's favorite this time last year, and the Shark was relentless fighting for balls. He had an excellent season. Sidney Rice kept South Carolina in games in the brutal SEC. Marcus Monk caught passes from about a hundred different players and was the deep threat in a fascinating Hogs offense. If you just like numbers, check out Chris Williams from New Mexico State who led the country in receptions and receiving yards, scored 12 touchdowns and routinely torched mediocre secondaries.
I like Jarrett Dillard, and he's a very good player. I just have trouble naming someone the top receiver when no one is really arguiing that there aren't better ones out there. In fact, Dillard is a 323-type player. One who has played very hard, and very well, and should be recognized for that. But it doesn't mean he's actually the best. Garrett Wolfe is a 323 favorite, but it's not like we'd take him over Adrian Peterson. With that thinking, you'd assume they'd have picked Ian Johnson over McFadden. I mean, Johnson has better numbers, and if you credit Dillard for getting lowly Rice into a bowl, shouldn't you credit Johnson for getting Boise St. into the BCS?
Or naming Posluszny as one of their linebackers when they admit it took him half the season to get back into game shape. If that's the case, couldn't you make the same argument for Jarrett? Trust me, I watched lots of Poz, and when he was bad, he was pretty bad. But it now seems like he was just recovering. You think Jarrett wouldn't have gotten your precious numbers if he'd been healthy all season?
I think it's great that Dillard is getting some much deserved recognition. He's really earned it, and that Rice story is a great one. (You know who's the Offensive Coordinator over there? Major Applewhite, another 323 favorite. Further guaranteeing that he will have a more significant football career than golden boy Chris Simms ever will.) I just don't think that recognition should be as the best wide receiver in the country, because no one actually believes that.