Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley put on a show at the Rose Bowl last season and established themselves as two of the biggest stars in college football coming into 2017.
The two Heisman Trophy contenders highlight the first preseason All-America team in Associated Press history.
Darnold passed for 453 yards and five touchdowns in USC’s 52-49 victory over the Nittany Lions. The sophomore enters this season leading No. 4 USC on a nine-game winning streak.
“Obviously there are some grand expectations for him, but he’s welcomed those,” USC coach Clay Helton said. “That’s part of being a USC quarterback. That’s why you come to USC. You’re the face of the program and you’re the leader of the program.”
Barkley ran for 194 yards and scored three touchdowns against USC.
“He’s one of the rare guys that if you were building a Frankenstein running back, he’d pretty much have a check mark in pretty much in every box,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “I guess that’s what makes him special and that’s what makes him different.”
The AP All-America team is the longest-running annual honor roll of the nation’s top college football players, dating to 1925, and is usually released after the season.
Darnold was voted to the first team by a panel of 51 Top 25 voters, edging out Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, who is the second-team quarterback on the lists released Tuesday.
Joining Darnold and Barkley in the backfield is LSU running back Derrius Guice, who spent the last two seasons as back up to former All-America Leonard Fournette.
The first-team defense is led by two players who were postseason All-Americans in 2016: Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who made it to the first team as a freshman last season, and Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. Florida State placed two defensive backs on the first-team with cornerback Tavarus McFadden and safety Derwin James, who missed most of last year with a knee injury.
Other Big Ten players earning first-team honors: Ohio State senior center Billy Price, Penn State junior tight end Mike Gesicki and Iowa senior linebacker Josey Jewell.
Michigan sophomore defensive end was second-team.
Army, Navy off to Philly
The Army-Navy football game will be played in Philadelphia four times from 2018-2022, returning to its most frequent host city. The academies held a news conference Tuesday at Philadelphia’s City Hall to announce the site of the 2018, ’19, ’20 and ’22 Army-Navy games.
North Carolina State dismissed two players from the team and suspended three others for violating athletics department and team rules pertaining to marijuana and alcohol.
... Malik Rosier will open the season as No. 18 Miami’s starting quarterback.
... Max Browne, a graduate transfer from Southern Cal, is the starting quarterback at Pitt.
... Iowa sophomore cornerback Manny Rugamba will be suspended for the Sept. 2 home game against Wyoming because of an offseason violation.
... Wisconsin and UCLA have scheduled a home-and-home in 2029 and 2030.