In the FCS Huddle: FCS All-America team is one star after another

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Change is sure good, but some of the players named to The Sports Network FCS All-America Team on Wednesday surely do not agree.

This year's Walter Payton Award winner Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois, Jerry Rice Award winner Cooper Kupp of Eastern Washington and Buck Buchanan Award winner Brad Daly of Montana State helped lead the way on the first team Wednesday with their first selections to the All-America Team.

But five other players weren't so receptive to giving up their positions as they repeated as first-team selections from a year ago. A sixth player - Towson running back Terrance West - was a first-team All-American in 2011. In all, there were 21 selections with previous All-American postseason status from The Sports Network, which also presents the major awards in the FCS.

South Dakota State junior running back Zach Zenner and senior offensive tackle Bryan Witzmann, Eastern Illinois senior wide receiver Erik Lora, and North Dakota State senior offensive tackle Billy Turner and cornerback Marcus Williams were the repeat first-team selections. Williams, from the two- time reigning FCS champion Bison, made his third straight appearance on the first team.

Garoppolo, a 6-foot-3, 222-pound senior, captured the Payton Award as the outstanding player in the FCS. The NFL prospect enjoyed one of the best seasons ever by an FCS quarterback, completing 375-of-568 pass attempts (66 percent) for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.

He wasn't short of top receivers this season, but Garoppolo probably would have loved to throw passes to Kupp, the Rice Award recipient as national freshman of the year. The 6-2, 195-pound Kupp is the first freshman wide receiver on the first team since Marshall's Randy Moss in 1996. Kupp has obliterated FCS freshman receiving records with 85 receptions, 1,567 receiving yards and 21 TD catches. He's also caught a touchdown in all 14 Eastern Washington games, a national consecutive games record.

Daly, a 6-1, 240-pound senior, became the second straight Buchanan Award winner from Montana State. During the regular season, he led the FCS with 14 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss, and created havoc for opposing offenses.

Witzmann helped pave the way for Zenner's second straight 2,000-yard season, while Turner has been the wrecking ball for a North Dakota State offense that is on pace to have two 1,000-yard rushers for the third straight season. Lora had an FCS-high 123 receptions for 1,544 yards and 19 touchdowns as Garoppolo's No. 1 option at Eastern Illinois. Williams has three interceptions for the two-defending national champion Bison, giving him 21 for his career.

West, the national rushing leader, returned to the first team after missing last year following an injury-plagued campaign. The junior is coming off an FCS playoff-record 354 rushing yards against Eastern Illinois last weekend, pushing his season total to 2,295 yards. He has scored 39 total touchdowns to tie the FCS single-season record.

Other first-team selections on offense were North Dakota State senior fullback Andrew Grothmann; Lehigh senior wide receiver Lee Kurfis, whose 122.8 receiving yards per game leads the FCS; Southern Illinois junior tight end MyCole Pruitt; Samford senior all-purpose player Fabian Truss, who averaged 183.8 yards on rushes, receptions and returns; and offensive linemen Dakota Dozier of Furman, Eric Pike of Towson and Collin Seibert of Eastern Illinois.

Dozier and Pike are seniors, while Seibert is a junior.

The defense featured Princeton defensive tackle Caraun Reid, who could be the top FCS selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. Reid continually faced double and triple teams, but remained quite productive, and he opened up room for teammates to help the Tigers earn a share of their first Ivy League title since 2006.

The 6-2, 305-pound Reid shared room on the All-American defensive front with Cal Poly defensive tackle Sullivan Grosz, who was the Big Sky Conference's co-defensive player of the year award with Daly, the Buchanan Award recipient. The other defensive end besides Daly on the first team was Pioneer Football League defensive player of the year Terrence Fede of Marist.

Linebacker is always a deep position across the FCS, and this season was no different with three conference defensive players of the year in James Madison's Stephon Robertson, Samford's Justin Shade and South Carolina State's Joe Thomas - all seniors. The other linebacker, junior Lynden Trail of Norfolk State, was worthy of such an award in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, but that was taken by Thomas.

The only other non-senior on the All-America first-team defense was Missouri State's Caleb Schaffitzel, who shared honors at safety with Jerome Couplin III from William & Mary's dominant defense. At cornerback, Maine's Kendall James checked in alongside Williams.

The special teams featured Northern Iowa senior place-kicker Tyler Sievertsen, whose 1.8 field goals per game (21-for-27 overall) leads the FCS; Southeastern Louisiana sophomore kickoff returner Xavier Roberson, whose 35.2-yard average on 26 returns leads the FCS by over three yards per return; Tennessee Tech senior punter Chad Zinchini, who is second nationally with a 45.7-yard average on 75 punts; Sam Houston State senior punt returner Torrance Williams, whose 16-yard average ranks second nationally; and highly decorated senior long snapper Richard Wright of Liberty.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference had the most first-team selections (eight) and tied with the Big Sky Conference for the most overall selections (14). The Ohio Valley Conference followed with 12 overall selections, then it was CAA Football with 11, the Southland Conference with nine, the Northeast and Southern conferences with eight each, the Big South Conference and Patriot League with six each, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with five, the Southwestern Athletic Conference with four, and the Ivy and Pioneer leagues with three each.

2013 The Sports Network All-America Team

With position, player, school, class, height, weight:

First Team - Offense

QB - Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois, Sr., 6-3, 222

RB - Terrance West, Towson, Jr., 5-11, 223; Zach Zenner, South Dakota State, Jr., 6-0, 220

FB - Andrew Grothmann, North Dakota State, Sr., 6-1, 232

WR - Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington, Fr., 6-2, 195; Lee Kurfis, Lehigh, Sr., 6-2, 190; Erik Lora, Eastern Illinois, Sr., 5-11, 190

TE - MyCole Pruitt, Southern Illinois, Jr., 6-3, 260

OL - Dakota Dozier, Furman, Sr., 6-4, 291; Eric Pike, Towson, Sr., 6-5, 298; Collin Seibert, Eastern Illinois, Jr., 6-4, 277; Billy Turner, North Dakota State, Sr., 6-6, 314; Bryan Witzmann, South Dakota State, Sr., 6-7, 305

AP - Fabian Truss, Samford, Sr., 5-9, 185

PK - Tyler Sievertsen, Northern Iowa, Sr., 6-2, 185

KR - Xavier Roberson, Southeastern Louisiana, So., 5-9, 170

First Team - Defense

DE - Brad Daly, Montana State, Sr., 6-1, 240; Terrence Fede, Marist, Sr., 6-5, 270

DT - Sullivan Grosz, Cal Poly, Sr., 6-4, 295; Caraun Reid, Princeton, Sr., 6-2, 305

LB - Stephon Robertson, James Madison, Sr., 5-11, 230; Justin Shade, Samford, Sr., 5-10, 229; Joe Thomas, South Carolina State, Sr., 6-0, 230; Lynden Trail, Norfolk State, Jr., 6-7, 260

CB - Kendall James, Maine, Sr., 6-0, 214; Marcus Williams, North Dakota State, Sr., 5-11, 194

S - Jerome Couplin III, William & Mary, Sr., 6-2, 215; Caleb Schaffitzel, Missouri State, Jr., 6-0, 214

P - Chad Zinchini, Tennessee Tech, Sr., 6-3, 220

LS - Richard Wright, Liberty, Sr., 6-1, 260

PR - Torrance Williams, Sam Houston State - Sr., 5-8, 170

Second Team - Offense

QB - Vernon Adams, Eastern Washington, So., 6-0, 190

RB - Kyle Harbridge, St. Francis (Pa.), Sr., 5-10, 195; DaMarcus James, Jacksonville State, Jr., 5-10, 220; Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina, Sr., 6-2, 230

FB - Emmanuel Holder, Towson, So., 5-11, 255; Darien Robinson, The Citadel, Sr., 6-0, 220

WR - Sam Ajala, Fordham, Jr., 6-0, 194; Jeremy Butler, UT Martin, Sr., 6-3, 205; Lee Doss, Southern, Sr., 6-2, 180

TE - Justin Perillo, Maine, Sr., 6-4, 240

OL - Arinze Agada, McNeese State, Sr., 6-1, 286; Tristan Bellamy, South Carolina State, Sr., 6-3, 290; Matt Crisaki, William & Mary, Sr., 6-4, 302; A.J. Dalton, Robert Morris, Sr., 6-4, 280; Mason Halter, Fordham, Jr., 6-6, 282

AP - Rob Hollomon, Central Connecticut State, Jr., 5-8, 170

PK - Griffin Thomas, Jacksonville State, Sr., 6-0, 198

KR - Adrian Wilkins, North Carolina Central, So., 5-8, 170

Second Team - Defense

DE - Zach Hodges, Harvard, Jr., 6-3, 235; Shaquille Riddick, Gardner-Webb, Jr., 6-7, 240; Davis Tull, UT-Chattanooga, Jr., 6-3, 240

DT - Zach Kerr, Delaware, Sr., 6-2, 310; Troy Moore, Sacred Heart, Jr., 6-3, 285

LB - Quinn Backus, Coastal Carolina, Sr., 5-10, 215; Todd Davis, Sacramento State, Sr., 6-1, 250; Tyler Starr, South Dakota, Sr., 6-4, 235; Jordan Tripp, Montana, Sr., 6-4, 237

CB - T.J. Lee III, Eastern Washington, Sr., 5-9, 190; Jordan Love, Towson, Sr., 6-1, 180

S - Daniel Fitzpatrick, Tennessee State, Jr., 6-2, 210; Jaquiski Tartt, Samford, Jr., 6-1, 218

P - Kyle Loomis, Portland State, Jr., 6-2, 210

LS - Chris Highland, Illinois State, Jr., 6-2, 215

PR - Tavoris Doss, Alcorn State, Sr., 5-8, 165

Third Team - Offense

QB - Michael Nebrich, Fordham, Jr., 6-1, 205

RB - D.J. Adams, Portland State, Sr., 5-10, 210; Keshaudas Spence, Sacred Heart, Jr., 5-10, 230; Marcus Wiltz, McNeese State, Sr., 5-9, 192

FB - Kurt Odom, Campbell, Sr., 6-1, 215

WR - Kenny Cook, Gardner-Webb, Jr., 6-4, 210; Adam Drake, Eastern Illinois, Jr., 6-2, 199; Roman Wilson, Princeton, Sr., 5-11, 190

TE - Jeff LePak, Eastern Illinois, Jr., 6-6, 222

OL - Dorian Byrd, Georgia Southern, Sr., 6-1, 265; Phede Celestin, Marist, Sr., 6-4, 318; Jamey Cheatwood, Coastal Carolina, Sr., 6-5, 330; Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State, Sr., 6-4, 290; Chris Elkins, Youngstown State, Sr., 6-4, 290; Danny Kistler, Montana, Sr., 6-8, 315; Mitchell Van Dyk, Portland State, Sr., 6-9, 290

AP - Greg Hardin, North Dakota, Sr., 5-11, 177

PK - Colton Cook, Southern Utah, Sr., 5-8, 185

KR - Shawn Johnson, Montana State, Jr., 5-9, 175

Third Team - Defense

DE - Anthony Bass, Tennessee State, Jr., 6-2, 230; Jesse Dickson, Lamar, Sr., 6-3, 265; Colton Underwood, Illinois State, Sr., 6-4, 255

DT - Robert Simpson, Mississippi Valley State, Sr., 6-3, 267; Tracey Smith, Bucknell, Sr., 6-1, 265

LB - Telvion Clark, Towson, Sr., 6-1, 230; Jarkevis Fields, Bethune-Cookman, Sr., 6-0, 230; Stephen Hodge, Jr., 6-0, 202; Cqulin Hubert, Southeastern Louisiana, Sr., 6-1, 250; Christian Kuntz, Duquesne, So., 6-2, 210

CB - Guy Morgan, McNeese State, Sr., 6-0, 188; Winston Wright, South Dakota State, Sr., 5-10, 190

S - Colten Heagle, North Dakota State, Jr., 5-11, 202; Bookie Snead, Sam Houston State, Sr., 6-0, 180

P - Bentlee Critcher, Appalachian State, Fr., 6-1, 175; Bobby Wenzig, Alabama State, Sr., 6-2, 180

LS - Phil Faccone, Wagner, Jr., 5-9, 195; Chris Maikranz, Lamar, Sr., 6-6, 255

PR - Antwan Eddie, Robert Morris, Jr., 5-10, 180