Posted by Frazier
It's one of our favorite columns of the year. Yes, it's time for the All-323 squad! We'll be doing a more traditional All-American later. The All-323 squad is reserved for some of our favorite players who haven't gotten as much national love. It's not the best players, or just a list of our favorites. There are just two rules: (1) you gotta play hard and get the job down, and (2) you can't be on anyone's all America team.
We're starting with the offense, and in honor of football's hottest trend, we're running a "spread" attack with a single back, three wideouts, and a tight end:
Quarterback - Todd Reesing, Kansas
Frazier - Probably the easiest pick of the year. Reesing had an ENORMOUS year, taking over the starting job, and leading Kansas to an unprecedented #7 ranking. He played huge all year, tossing 33 td's with only 7 picks, making huge plays with his feet, and getting his team to battle back in tight games. He is generously listed as 5'10, but one things for sure, it's ALL heart.
Running Back - Jacob Hester, LSU
Walter - Wanna know the real irony of LSU this year? On arguably the most talented offense in America, the least talented player, Hester, made easily the 5 biggest plays during their championship run. Whether its blasting through a defensive end for 4 yards on third and 3, or picking up a blitzing linebacker on 1st and 10, Hester simply does everything, and anything, to help his team win. Oh yeah, and he rushed for over 1000 yards too!
Wide Receiver - James Hardy, Indiana
Frazier - Beast. At 6'7 and 220 lbs, with excellent speed and hands, James Hardy is more or less uncoverable. His 79 catches for 1,125 yards and 16 touchdowns are impressive, but watching him dominate Justin King, a top cover corner, for 14 grabs, 142 yards and a pair of scores was something to behold. He was a huge part of college football's best story.
Wide Receiver - Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt
Walter - Quick who's the SEC's all time leading pass catcher? Before you start rattling off former Florida Gators I'll save you the time and just tell you it's Bennett. After three monster seasons at Vandy, Bennett looks to take his show to the NFL, and he'll do it without nary an all America team to his name. I guess he didn't deserve it though. Over 230 catches for over 2700 yards against the top DB's from the nation's toughest conference? Earl is a keeper!
Wide Receiver - Dorien Bryant, Purdue
Frazier - One of the nation's most underrated for years. Bryant had his third straight season with more than 80 grabs for over 900 yards. For his career he nabbed almost 300 balls for over 3,500 yards, and you've never heard of him, but he's been making huge plays, without incredible physical tools, for years.
Tight End - Gary Barnidge, Louisville
Walter - We all know it was a lost season for Louisville, but it wasn't a lost season for the big TE. Barnidge, whose played in the shadow of Mario Urrutia and Harry Douglas for two years now, emerged as Brian Brohm's favorite crunch time target grabbing 53 balls for 655 yards and a team leading 7 TD. And who can blame Brohm for targeting Barnidge. He stands 6 feet 6 inches and rarely drops a ball.
Offensive Line - Rutgers
Frazier - For the offensive line, we're rewarding a unit instead of focusing on individual players. Line play is all about teamwork, and we think it's important to give this Rutgers unit the credit it deserves. This unit plowed the road for over 2,500 yards on the ground (more than regarded units such as Ohio St. or USC, hell, they had more passing yards too). Oh yeah, and they surrendered 7 sacks all season. You know who Ray Rice is, but did you know who Pedro Sosa (one sack in two years), Jeremy Zuttah (no sacks since 2005), Anthony Davis, Mike Fladell, Mike Gilmartin, Ryan Blasczyk are? Yeah, their the road-graders who make it all possible.
Offensive Coordinator - Chip Kelly, Oregon
Walter - I love to say it, but we here at the323 knew all about Chip Kelly before he arrived Eugene. Yup, here in the Northeast we had the pleasure of watching Chip run the UNH (that's New Hampshire) offense that set several Division 1AA single season records. And while Ricky Santos (QB) and David Ball (WR) were nice players it was clear Chip was ready for bigger and better things. Well, all Kelly did was replace a semi legend at Oregon (Gary Crowton) and turn a middling QB prospect into a Heisman frontrunner (Dennis Dixon).