The Sporting News 2023 College Football All-America Team

The 2023 Sporting News College Football All America Team features 16 players from the SEC. 

Alabama led all schools with six players across our first- and second teams. Edge rusher Dallas Turner and cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry were first-team selections. 

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and receiver Malik Nabers made our first-team offense. Michigan, Notre Dame and Iowa also had a pair of first-team selections. 

Our team also featured a pair of two-time SN first-team selections in Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and Kansas State guard Cooper Beebe. Colorado two-way star Travis Hunter also is among the headliners on this year’s team; the first All-American under coach Deion Sanders. 

The Pac-12 had 11 players, and the Big Ten landed 10. 

Sporting News is one of five outlets used to determine consensus All-American status at the end of the season. A look at our 2023 Sporting News All-America team: 

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Malik Nabers

(Getty Images)

First-team offense

QB: Jayden Daniels, LSU 

Daniels – the Heisman Trophy winner – joins Joe Burrow as the second LSU quarterback in the last five years to make our first team. Daniels had a remarkable statistical season with 3,812 passing yards, 40 TDs and four interceptions with 1,134 rushing yards and 10 TDs. He flashed dynamic talent throughout LSU’s season. He led the nation in total offense (412.2) and had eight games with 300-plus passing yards and four games with 100 or more rushing yards. 

MORE: Full voting results for Heisman Trophy

RB: Ollie Gordon II, Oklahoma State 

Gordon – the Doak Walker Award winner –  joins a proud Oklahoma State running back tradition that includes first-teamers such as Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas, Kendall Hunter and Chuba Hubbard. Gordon enjoyed a string of six straight 100-yard games – and his 138-yard, two-TD performance helped the Cowboys beat Oklahoma 27-24 in the last immediate installment of Bedlam.

RB: Cody Schrader, Missouri 

Schrader ranked third in the FBS with 1,499 rushing yards and 13 TDs, and he emerged as the centerpiece in Missouri’s offense through a 10-win season. Schrader averaged 168.2 rushing yards in the Tigers’ last five SEC games, and he had a signature performance with 205 rushing yards and 116 receiving yards in the 36-7 victory against Tennessee on Nov. 11. 

WR: Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

The Ohio State receiver pipeline remains strong with Harrison, who is a two-time first-team SN All-American. Harrison won the Biletnikoff Award among a loaded group of receivers in the FBS this season. Harrison totaled 67 catches for 1,211 yards and 14 TDs, and his acrobatic catches became every-week viral moments. He also showed up in huge games with a total of 16 catches for 280 yards and two TDs in top-10 showdowns with Penn State and Michigan. 

MORE: Full list of awards winners, including Biletnikoff, Doak Walker

WR: Rome Odunze, Washington 

Odunze exceeded expectations after being named a SN Preseason All-American. He had 81 catches for 1,428 yards and 13 TDs, an incredible average of 17.6 yards per catch. He was a go-to receiver for Heisman Trophy finalist Michael Penix Jr., but Odunze also had a penchant for clutch plays – like the game-winning TD catch in the 36-33 thriller with Oregon or the reverse that set up the game-winning field goal in a 24-21 victory against Washington State. 

WR: Malik Nabers, LSU 

Nabers emerged as the best receiver in the SEC and a favorite target for Daniels. Nabers led the FBS with 1,546 receiving yards and fell short of Harrison for the Biletnikoff Award by one vote. He had 87 catches and 14 TDs for the Tigers. He closed the regular season with five straight games with 100 receiving yards or more, and he had five games with two TDs. He should join a list of LSU Consensus All-American receivers that includes Eric Martin, Wendell Davis, Josh Reed and Ja’Marr Chase. 

TE: Brock Bowers, Georgia 

Bowers, a second-team SN All-American in 2022, became the first two-time Mackey Award winner despite missing three games with an ankle injury. He ranked second among tight ends in the FBS in receiving yards (714), and he finished with 56 catches and six TDs. Bowers’ best game was an eight-catch, 157-yard performance in a 27-20 victory against Auburn on Sept. 30. 

T: Olu Fashanu, Penn State 

Fashanu – a 6-foot-6, 313-pound tackle – is an easy choice among a loaded class of tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, Fashanu did not allow a sack or quarterback hit in pass protection this season. He’s a dominant player who will be a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Fashanu could be Penn State’s first Consensus All-American on the offensive line since Jeff Hartings (1995). 

G: Cooper Beebe, Kansas State

Beebe is a two-time first-team SN All-American – and the interior lineman enjoyed another solid season with the Wildcats. Beebe allowed one sack in 401 pass-blocking snaps, according to PFF. He also remains an elite run-blocker. That all-around ability will lead to a lengthy NFL career. 

C: Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon 

Powers-Johnson won the Rimington Trophy, which is given to the nation’s top center. He became the first Pac-12 player to win that award. Powers-Johnson not only graded out as the highest-rated pass-blocking center on PFF, he was a force in the running game too for an offense that averaged 183.8 rushing yards per game. 

G: Zak Zinter, Michigan 

Zinter’s decision to return for another season was a huge plus for Michigan. The 6-6, 320-pound guard was a key piece on an interior that helped the Wolverines pile up 35 rushing TDs this season. Zinter suffered a season-ending injury against Ohio State, which sparked an emotional 30-24 victory. 

T: Joe Alt, Notre Dame 

Alt entered the season with high expectations, and he delivered for the Irish. The 6-7, 280-pound tackle allowed one sack in 347 pass-rush opportunities, and improved on his run blocking in his second season as a starter. Alt joins an impressive list of Irish offensive linemen who have earned first-team honors in the CFP era – which includes Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey and Liam Eichenberg. 

Laiatu Latu

(Getty Images)

First-team defense 

DL: T’Vondre Sweat, Texas 

Sweat, a 6-foot-4, 362-pound defensive tackle, won the Outland Trophy after an impressive season with the Longhorns. Texas ranked third in the FBS in rushing defense (80.8 ypg.). Sweat, a fifth-year senior, emerged as a dominant force with 42 tackles and eight tackles for loss. He helped Texas win the Big 12 championship and reach the College Football Playoff for the first time. 

DL: Jer’Zhan Newton, Illinois

Newton, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle, has been a consistent disruptor for the Illini each of the last three seasons, but he took it to the next level in 2023. Newton had 52 tackles and 7.5 sacks, and he closed the season with five sacks in Illinois’ last five games.

DL: Jonah Elliss, Utah 

Ellis can play as a stand-up rusher or a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end, and that versatility led to a huge season for the Utes. He ranked sixth in the FBS in sacks with 12, and he added 16.5 tackles for loss this season. Elliss’ 3.5-sack performance against UCLA spurred a 14-7 victory on Sept. 23. 

EDGE: Dallas Turner, Alabama 

Turner has been a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide, and he posted his best season with 50 tackles, nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Turner highlighted a 24-10 victory against Ole Miss on Sept. 23 with two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss, and he became the consistent driving force for an improved Alabama defense. 

EDGE: Laiatu Latu, UCLA 

Latu won the Lombardi Award after another stellar season as an edge rusher for the Bruins. Latu was the highest-rated pass rusher according to PFF after a season in which he finished with 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss. Latu added two interceptions and two forced fumbles as a game-wrecker for UCLA. 

LB: Payton Wilson, NC State 

Wilson won the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation’s top linebacker. Wilson finished with 138 total tackles, six sacks and three interceptions for the Wolfpack, and he was an every-day performer with nine games with 10 or more tackles. 

LB: Jason Henderson, Old Dominion 

Henderson led the FBS with 170 total tackles – and now has 434 total stops for his career with the Monarchs. He also ranked third in the FBS with 19.5 tackles for loss. He had a 22-tackle performance against Coastal Carolina on Nov. 4. 

CB: Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama 

McKinstry was part of an improved Alabama secondary and emerged as a shut-down cornerback. He limited opposing receivers to just 17 catches and one TD this season – and that was a huge reason why the Crimson Tide made a push to the SEC championship. He’s one of three Alabama defensive backs on our first and second teams. 

CB: Cooper DeJean, Iowa 

DeJean missed three games with a lower leg injury, but he was the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year after another impressive season with the Hawkeyes. DeJean had 41 tackles and two interceptions for one of the best defenses in the FBS and was an outstanding punt returner. He joins Desmond King and Joshua Jackson as first-team defensive backs from Iowa in the last 10 years. 

S: Xavier Watts, Notre Dame 

Watts – a former recruit at receiver who also played linebacker – finally found a home at Notre Dame as a safety. He won the Nagurski Award after a breakout season for the Irish. He led the nation with seven interceptions and had a forced fumble and fumble return for a touchdown against USC. Watts also had 47 tackles for a defense ranked in the top 10 in total defense and scoring defense.

S: Tyler Nubin, Minnesota 

Nubin had an incredible season for the Gophers. He had 53 tackles as a run stopper, but it was his coverage that was even better. Nubin was targeted 19 times according to PFF, and he had five interceptions and four pass breakups on those targets. He was a next-level difference-maker on the back end. 

DB: Mike Sainristil, Michigan 

Sainristil was the ultimate right-place, right-time player for the nation’s top scoring defense. He had five interceptions and two pick-sixes, but he also had 30 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. He emerged as a heavy hitter in the secondary and an ultimate team leader for the nation’s top-ranked scoring defense. 

ATH: Travis Hunter, Colorado 

According to PFF, Hunter played 1,074 snaps between receiver and defensive back.  Hunter had 57 catches for 721 yards and five TDs on offense and 30 tackles and three interceptions on defense. It was an amazing display of talent for the former No. 1 recruit in the nation. 

First-team specialists 

K: Graham Nicholson, Miami (Ohio)

Nicholson – the Groza Award winner – nailed 26 of 27 field goals this season – including 10 of 11 from 40 yards or more. He had four games with three field goals or more, and that included the MAC championship victory against Toledo. 

P: Tory Taylor, Iowa

Taylor became the first Iowa player to win the Ray Guy Award, which is given to the nation’s top punter. Taylor averaged 47.9 yards per punt and led the nation with 4,117 punting yards. He also landed a FBS-best 32 punts inside the 20 yard line.

PR: Zachariah Branch, USC

The comparisons to Devin Hester – a SN All-American in 2004 – are starting early. Branch averaged 20.6 yards per punt return and had 304 return yards. He had a 80-yard punt return TD against Stanford. Branch also added 18.4 yards per kickoff return with a TD.

KR: Barion Brown, Kentucky 

Brown was one of five players with two kickoff return TDs who averaged more than 30 yards per return this season. He scored on a return TD in the opener against Ball State and the regular-season finale against Louisville – where he had four returns for 180 yards. 

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Malaki Starks

(Getty Images)

Second-team offense

QB: Michael Penix Jr., Washington 

RB: Audric Estime, Notre Dame

RB: Omarion Hampton, North Carolina 

WR: Troy Franklin, Oregon 

WR: Luther Burden III, Missouri 

WR: Tetairoa McMillan, Arizona 

TE: Dallin Holker, Colorado State

OL: Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia 

OL: Christian Haynes, UConn 

OL: Zach Frazier, West Virginia 

OL: Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

OL: JC Latham, Alabama

Second-team defense

DL: Byron Murphy II, Texas

DL: Mason Graham, Michigan 

DL: Howard Cross III, Notre Dame 

EDGE: Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M 

EDGE: Jalen Green, James Madison 

LB: Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson 

LB: Jay Higgins, Iowa 

CB: Beanie Bishop Jr., West Virginia 

CB: Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo 

S: Caleb Downs, Alabama 

S: Malaki Starks, Georgia 

DB: Terrion Arnold, Alabama 

ATH: Sione Vaki, Utah 

Second-team specialists 

K: Will Reichard, Alabama 

P: Alex Mastromanno, Florida State

PR: Xavier Worthy, Texas 

KR: Bhayshul Tuten, Virginia Tech

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