Dec. 4, 2003
The University of Iowa’s Robert Gallery and Nate Kaeding, Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman headline the 2003 AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team announced today by the American Football Coaches Association. The AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team is made up of players from NCAA Division I-A institutions.
Kaeding was named first team all-American by four different organizations last year when the Hawkeyes advanced to the FedEx Orange Bowl. Gallery follows in the footsteps of Iowa’s Bruce Nelson and Eric Steinbach, who were named to multiple all-America teams a year ago.
Iowa is the only Big Ten team with more than one student-athlete included on the elite list.
Iowa, winners of nine games so far in 2003 and 20 of its last 25 games, is waiting to learn its 2003-04 bowl game destination. The Hawkeyes are likely to be playing in either the 2004 Capital One Bowl, 2004 Outback Bowl or the 2003 MasterCard Alamo Bowl. An official announcement is expect late Sunday after the 2004 Bowl Championship Series pairings are announced.
The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all four of its divisions. What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best – the coaches themselves.
College football’s most exciting receiver, Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh, caught 87 passes for 1,595 yards and 22 touchdowns for the Panthers this season. He is joined on the receiving corps this year by Oklahoma State’s Rashaun Woods and tight end Kellen Winslow of Miami (Fla.)
Woods set an NCAA record with seven touchdown catches in one game this season. On the year he caught 66 passes for 1,144 yards and 14 touchdowns. Winslow was the Hurricanes’ second-leading receiver this season, catching 55 passes for 557 yards.
Quarterbacking this year’s team is Oklahoma’s Jason White. The senior Sooner signal caller leads the nation in passing efficiency this year with a 177.9 rating and has thrown for 3,446 yards and 40 touchdowns while throwing only six interceptions.
Virginia Tech’s Kevin Jones and Michigan’s Chris Perry were chosen as this year’s All-America runningbacks.
Jones rushed for 1,494 yards for the Hokies this season and scored 20 touchdowns. Perry was a vital cog in Michigan’s drive to the Big 10 championship as he toted the ball for 1,589 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Wolverines.
The offensive line features Arkansas’ Shawn Andrews, USC’s Jacob Rogers, Virginia Tech’s Jake Grove, Oklahoma’s Jammal Brown and Iowa’s Robert Gallery.
Andrews is one of two returning All-Americans on this year’s AFCA team. The junior from Camden, Ark. has been the most dominant blocker in the Southeastern Conference this season.
Rogers anchors an offensive line that has helped the Trojans average 456.3 yards per game in total offense in 2003. Grove centered an offensive line that cleared the way for the Hokies’ potent ground game. Brown was the top offensive lineman on the most talented team in college football this season.
Gallery’s play at tackle has played a big role in Iowa’s offensive resurgence over the last two seasons.
Oklahoma’s Teddy Lehman headlines the linebacker corps for this year’s AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team. He is joined by fellow Butkus Award finalist Jonathan Vilma of Miami (Fla.) and Karlos Dansby of Auburn. Lehman leads Oklahoma in tackles with 97 this season and spearheads a defense that has held opponents to 13.2 points and 233 yards per game this season.
Vilma has been the Hurricanes’ leading tackler each of the last three seasons and is a two-time Academic All-America selection. Dansby anchored an Auburn defense that held opponents to less than 100 yards rushing a game this season.
The defensive line features Tommie Harris of Oklahoma, David Pollock of Georgia, Will Smith of Ohio State and Dave Ball of UCLA. Harris is making his second appearance on the AFCA All-America Team this year. The junior tackle has posted 34 tackles, including nine for a loss and four sacks for the Sooners. Pollack, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year a year ago, will enter the SEC Championship Game with 77 tackles for the Bulldogs.
Smith led the Buckeyes in sacks and tackles for loss this season with 10.5 and 20 respectively. Ball will end his college career as UCLA’s season and career sack leader. The defensive backs named to this year’s AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team are Sean Taylor of Miami (Fla.), Derrick Strait of Oklahoma, Corey Webster of LSU and Sean Jones of Georgia.
Taylor was the Hurricanes’ second-leading tackler and led the squad in interceptions and pass break-ups. Strait was the leader of a Sooner secondary that held opponents to 139.2 pass yards per game in 2003. Webster picked off four passes and led LSU with 17 pass break-ups. Jones has 102 tackles for the Bulldogs so far this season and is the team’s No. 2 tackler.
The specialists on this year’s AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team are punter Kyle Larson of Nebraska, placekicker Nate Kaeding of Iowa and return specialist Antonio Perkins of Oklahoma.
Larson averaged 45.4 yards per punt and dropped 19 kicks inside Husker opponents’ 20-yard line.
Kaeding, a Groza Award finalist, led the Hawkeyes in scoring with 93 points as he converted 17 of 18 field goals and 36 of 37 PATs this year. He also rushed for one touchdown on a fake field goal. Perkins set NCAA records for punt return TDs in a game (three) and punt return yards in a game (277) and tied an NCAA record with four punt returns for touchdowns this season.