Deshaun Watson, Jabrill Peppers lead SI.com's 2016 Preseason All-America Team
- SI.com unveils its Preseason All-America Team for the 2016 college football season, including five players from Alabama, three from Florida State and three from Michigan.
It's a rare gift to have this much talent returning to college football from last season. Five of the top seven in the Heisman Trophy voting are back as are several players outside of the skill positions who could easily go No. 1 overall in next year's NFL draft. In short, there's an abundance of talent that should make the 2016 season a treat for college football fans.
Of course, that also makes the task of selecting the best of the best especially arduous. With two quarterbacks who finished in the top four of last year's Heisman voting returning along with three running backs who could reasonably claim to be the top player in country, not to mention a bevy of proven playmakers at linebacker, Sports Illustrated's staff of college football experts faced some difficult choices to settle on the honorees for the 2016 Preseason All-America Team.
Only three players earned unanimous selection: Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett and Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers. Alabama led the field with five players selected to the first team, while Florida State and Michigan both earned three nods. Including the first and second teams, the Crimson Tide put a whopping eight players on the list followed by last year's runner-up Clemson with four.
Overall, the Big Ten and SEC tied for the most selections to the first team by conference with eight each. The SEC dominated the overall list with 18 players on the first or second teams, eight more than the Big Ten and nine more than the ACC and Pac-12. The Big 12 failed to get a single player on the first team but earned two spots on the second team. Three Group of Five programs placed players onto the second team.
Find the complete first and second teams below, and for more coverage to get you ready for the 2016 season, check out Andy Staples's pivot-point games of the season, the five biggest wild-card teams and SI.com's ranking of the top 100 players.
*Indicates a unanimous selection
QB: Baker Mayfield, Jr., Oklahoma
RB: Christian McCaffrey, Jr., Stanford
RB: Royce Freeman, Jr., Oregon
WR: Christian Kirk, Soph., Texas A&M
WR: Mike Williams, Jr., Clemson
TE: O.J. Howard, Sr., Alabama
T: Zach Banner, Sr., USC
G: Dorian Johnson, Sr., Pittsburgh
C: Ethan Pocic, Sr., LSU
G: Braden Smith, Jr., Auburn
T: Conor McDermott, Sr., UCLA
DE: Charles Harris, Jr., Missouri
DT: Carlos Watkins, Sr., Clemson
DE: Carl Lawson, Jr., Auburn
LB: Tim Williams, Sr., Alabama
LB: Ben Boulware, Sr., Clemson
LB: Anthony Walker, Jr., Northwestern
LB: Malik Jefferson, Soph., Texas
CB: Jalen Tabor, Jr., Florida
S: Eddie Jackson, Dr., Alabama
S: Jamal Adams, Jr., LSU
CB: Damontae Kazee, Sr., San Diego State