The Associated Press has been honoring college football’s best with an All-America team since 1925. This season, the AP released a preseason All-America team and will put out a midseason team. The full three-team AP All-America selections will be unveiled in December. The third All-America watch of the season features a big-time receiver from Stanford, a fab freshman leading streaking Texas, an injured Ohio State star and a game-breaker from Memphis.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Arcega-Whiteside has been a big problem for defensive backs. The senior is averaging 24 yards per catch and has seven touchdowns, often simply posting up defenders in and out jumping them for passes. Arcega-Whiteside came on strong late last season, scoring three touchdowns in the Alamo Bowl against TCU. This year, with K.J. Costello at quarterback, Arcega-Whiteside has helped provide balance to an offense that has faced defenses intent on stopping Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love.
What they are saying: “He’s a basketball player. He’s taking the ball off the rim.” — Costello told the San Jose Mercury News.
Outlook: The Cardinal face Notre Dame and star cornerback Julian Love this week. The Irish have given up some yards through the air, but only two touchdown passes. Stanford also plays Utah, Washington and California, all with formidable pass defenses. If Arcega-Whiteside is going to put together an All-America season, he will have to earn it.
Caden Sterns, S, Texas
The freshman was a five-star recruit, one of the gems of coach Tom Herman’s first full signing class in Austin. He is already drawing comparisons to former Longhorns star Earl Thomas for his range and playmaking.
Sterns had two interceptions last week against TCU and the week before he blocked a field goal against Southern California that was returned for a touchdown. On the season he has three picks and 15 tackles. Texas has won three straight games for the first time since 2014 and Sterns looks to be a key part of the revival.
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
This has nothing to do with Bosa’s play. The junior was a terror through two and half games, but he went out with a lower abdomen injury against TCU that needs surgery. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said Bosa, who already had six tackles for loss after getting 16 last year, will be out for weeks. Meyer also said Bosa wants to play for Ohio State again, but that’s complicated.
Bosa, whose brother Joey is a star pass rusher for the San Diego Chargers, is expected to be one of the first players taken in next year’s NFL draft. Maybe even higher than his brother, who went No. 3 overall. Whether Nick Bosa ever plays another game for the Buckeyes is unknown.
GROUP OF FIVE STAR
Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
The junior went to South Panola High School, a powerhouse in northwest Mississippi that sends lots of players to the Southeastern Conference, especially Ole Miss. Henderson, a three-star recruit, landed a little further north at Memphis. Henderson is showing he would have been just fine in the Power Five. The nation’s leading rusher with 709 yards, he is averaging 12.22 per carry and has scored nine touchdowns. He is also a threat as a receiver and kick returner and leads the country with 225 all-purpose yards per game.
ON THE LINE
(ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic, a former guard at Auburn, identifies an offensive lineman playing at an All-America level)
Michael Jordan, C, Ohio State
The junior is a three-year starter who moved to center this season and is developing into one of the best on the country.
“He was excellent in space even as he pulled versus Tulane,” Cubelic said. “He adds a physical element to the Ohio State offense. Does a nice job in pass protection, holding the point of attack and giving quarterback Dwayne Haskins room to step up and deliver throws.”
A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi vs. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU.
A pair of preseason All-Americans could go head-to-head. Brown is 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds and was one of the top receivers in the country last year with 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is off to be a bit of a slow start this season with 381 yards and three scores, but that is at least in part because Ole Miss is loaded at receiver. D.K. Metcalf is averaging 20.44 yards per catch and has four TDs. For that reason LSU might not have Williams shadow Brown; wherever Williams lines up it is difficult to complete passes. He was a third-team All-American as a freshman last year and is working on another strong season with two interceptions in limited targets.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://www.podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25