In the first edition, I mentioned that an interesting wrinkle to picking an all-star team like this is removing all of the All Americans. For one thing, it removes a lot of the same players you see in everybody’s all star team. The second? It makes things a lot harder.
My qualification for “All American” here is if they are listed in the 2014 media guide as an All American. If the athletic department says so, than they’re out of contention. As for the style of play, I’m mostly focusing on best available, but I’ll make a note of particular schemes that work well with certain players.
QB - Jason Campbell, Reggie Slack
Two very talented quarterbacks that won a total of 3 SEC titles. Though they both benefited from great defenses (the 2004 defense led the country in scoring defense, and the 1988 and 89 outfits were #2 and #1 in Bill C’s adjusted S&P+ rankings), they’re both outstanding leaders. Campbell is also one of the most accurate quarterbacks in Auburn history. Both of them could move a bit. Both were first team All-SEC at least once. I think we’re in good shape here.
Also considered: Dameyune Craig, Stan White, Jeff Burger, Nick Marshall
RB - Ronnie Brown, James Brooks
The reason Auburn lays claim to the title of Running Back U isn’t just for a few All Americans. It’s the depth. The ineligible group for this team is Jimmy Hitchcock, Walter Gilbert (I think; he may have been a QB), Monk Gafford (sort of; he was a single-wing QB), Joe Childress, Fob James, Ed Dyas, Tucker Fredrickson, Bo Jackson, Brent Fullwood, Carnell Williams, and Tre Mason. That still leaves Brown, Brooks, Joe Cribbs, Lionel James (who would absolutely be here if you let me run a wishbone), Stephen Davis, Rudi Johnson, Kenny Irons, and Ben Tate. Out of the latter group, only Irons didn’t have a stellar pro career.
Brooks still holds the Auburn record for all-purpose yards in a career, and is 3rd and 6th on the single season list for his 1979 and 1980 campaigns respectively. He then went on to a great pro career with the Bengals.
Brown is a repeat from the Malzahn vs Aliens version. He’s the best all-around back in Auburn’s modern era who isn’t Vincent Edward Jackson. He’ll do just fine.
FB - Tony Richardson
If we go with more of a pro-style offense, I want either T-Rich or Fred Beasley. Richardson was a 3 year starter at Auburn, then had a 17-year pro career. He was a great blocker and an underrated runner and receiver, racking up 249 yards rushing and 273 yards receiving with 6 total TDs his senior season (1993).
Also considered: Tommie Agee, Jay Prosch, Fred Beasley, Harold Morrow
WR - Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu, Alexander Wright
I picked these three partially to keep my QBs happy. These are the best of their groups. There were honestly plenty to choose from here. Auburn hasn’t even had a first team All-SEC wide receiver since Frank Sanders in 1994. Obomanu was honestly one of the best all-around WRs Auburn has ever had, Taylor was a sure-handed target that almost always picked up a first down, and Ace Wright had blinding speed, as we discussed in Part 1.
Also considered: Devin Aromashodu, Karsten Bailey, Thomas Bailey, Darvin Adams
TE - Philip Lutzenkirchen
Yeah, Lutzie is a carryover from the last one. Sue me.
The only ineligibles here are Walter Reeves and Jimmy Phillips, and Reeves is the only modern example. Lutzenkirchen wasn’t used much as an on-the-line tight end, but I’m sure he would adjust.
Also considered: Robert Johnson, Lorenzo Diamond
OT - Willie Anderson, Greg Robinson
I can’t believe these two were available. Anderson was a two-time All-SEC player and had a lengthy pro career. Robinson is probably the most dominant run-blocker I’ve ever seen. Done and done.
Also considered: Jeno James
OG - Monreko Crittenden, Rodney Garner
Monreko is a sentimental pick. I used to play pick-up basketball with him while he was finishing his degree. Incredibly quick feet and a real road grader. Rodney Garner gives me a coach on the field. Both players were All-SEC in their senior seasons.
C - Ben Nowland
I almost took Ryan Pugh here, but I’ll go with the engineering major. Nowland was an All-SEC performer and a stalwart of Tuberville’s early teams. He was a solid performer and gives me a great option with Jackie Burkett, Ben Tamburello, and Reese Dismukes off of the board.
DE - Quentin Groves, Carl Lawson
Hey I make the rules, and I never said I couldn’t take a current player. Lawson, when healthy*, is the most talented defensive end Auburn has had since Tracy Rocker. He’s the best pure pass-rusher Auburn has had since my other selection. Groves is Auburn’s all-time leader in sacks, and was an All-SEC player in his own right. He was absolutely dominant in his junior season, racking up 9.5 sacks. He only managed 3 in his senior season, but his counterpart on the other side of the line, Antonio Coleman, had 8. Other teams had to focus on blocking Groves, and Coleman reaped the benefits.
DT - Ron Stallworth, Sen’Derrick Marks
Alright, so Stallworth was technically a 3-4 DE, but I’d play him as a 3T in this scheme**. Stallworth is the only player from the 1988 defensive line that is eligible for this exercise. Both Benji Roland and Tracy Rocker were All-Americans. This was a defense that gave up 20 total points in their two losses. It posted 3 straight shutouts, including one in Gainesville. In a 5 game stretch, they gave up 15 points. Only once all season did they give up more than 20 points (21 to North Carolina). Someday all of the writers at C&M need to write a longform about that 1988 defense. All that to say, I had to have Stallworth in here. He saved his best game for the Iron Bowl that season with 3 sacks, including a safety.
Marks was a classic Tuberville player. He was discovered playing basketball during a visit to his high school coaches. He was listed as a 2-star. By the end of his career he was a great interior lineman. Now he’s a starter for the Jaguars.
Also considered: [every DT that played under Tuberville], Mike Pelton, Gary Walker
LB - Dontarrious Thomas, Quentin Riggins, Freddie Smith
Three absolute tackling machines. Thomas was sometimes overshadowed by the flashier Karlos Dansby, but he was a great player. Riggins was the heart and soul of the late 80s defenses that dominated the SEC. Tackles are a bit of a dubious stat, they’re more or less at the whim of the statistician, but it’s hard to ignore Smith’s numbers. He holds the all-time Auburn record for sacks with 528, which is 75 more than the next closest player. He has the first and fourth most tackles in a season in Auburn history.
Also considered: Karibi Dede, Those Four Games Where Tray Blackmon Actually Did Stuff, Marcellus Mostella
CB - Corey Barlow, Larry Casher
Two longtime contributors that both filled up the All-SEC lists. Barlow was actually one of my first favorite players, because he wore #12 in the late 80s and early 90s, and the standard uniform kit for little kids around that time came with a number 12 jersey. Casher racked up 11 career interceptions and was a playmaker on teams that didn’t win a lot of games in 1998 and 1999.
Also considered: Chris Davis***, Jerraud Powers
S - Travaris Robinson, David Langner
Two very smart players with multiple skills. Langner was a ballhawk who is much more than “The guy who picked up those two blocked punts”. He was All-SEC in 1973 and had 12 career interceptions, good enough for fifth on Auburn’s all-time list. Robinson started as a corner, but really started to shine when he was moved to safety and started in 2002. He had key interceptions in wins over LSU and Ole Miss that season.
Also considered: Martavious Houston, John Wiley, Dave Beck
So who do you think I left off? Leave your suggestions in the comments.
*-It seems like “Lawson, when healthy” is actually his last name now. I hate that.
**-I’m thinking a scheme similar to the Tuberville/Muschamp designs of 2006-07. Those were the best Auburn defenses I can remember, but only because I was 4 in 1988.
***-I can’t decide if Davis is eligible. He was named an All-American as a returner, not as a CB. In the end I decided being a returner counted.