With seven conference title games on the schedule, this weekend will provide the last college football feast before bowl season.
If you look closely at some of the rosters for the teams involved, you will find some of America’s best prep standouts of yesteryear. For some, it was just last year that they were running away with the country’s top prep honors. For others, high school stardom dates “all the way back” to 2013.
The largest concentration of former members of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Football First Team can be found in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game between Georgia and Auburn, where 14 such players could see action.
The Bulldogs are loaded with First Team alums, having a staggering nine on the roster. On offense, Georgia has running backs Sony Michel (2013, American Heritage – Plantation, Fla.) and D’Andre Swift (2016, St. Joseph’s Prep – Philadelphia, Pa.) to go with wide receiver Terry Godwin (2014, Callaway – Hogansville, Ga.) and tight end Isaac Nauta (2015, IMG Academy – Bradenton, Fla.). The 2015 ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Jacob Eason from Lake Stevens (Wash.), could also see some time.
On defense, Georgia boasts defensive lineman Lorenzo Carter (2013, Norcross, Ga.), 2014 ALL-USA Defensive Player of the Year Trenton Thompson (Westover – Albany, Ga.), linebacker Nate McBride (2016, Vidalia, Ga.) and safety Richard LeCounte III (Liberty County – Hinesville, Ga.).
Across the way representing the former First Team contingent for Auburn will be offensive lineman Braden Smith (2013, Olathe, Kan.), linebacker Tre’ Williams (2013, St. Paul’s Episcopal – Mobile, Ala.), wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers (2015, Tampa Catholic), and defensive linemen Derrick Brown (2015, Lanier – Sugarhill, Ga.) and Marlon Davidson (2015, Greenville, Ala.).
In the Big Ten Championship Game between Ohio State and Wisconsin, the Buckeyes have the monopoly on former First Teamers with nine on the roster while the Badgers don’t have any. While Buckeyes freshman and 2016 ALL-USA Defensive Player of the Year Shaun Wade from Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) is out for the year with an abdomen injury, the Buckeyes’ roster is rife with former elite high school players that includes fellow freshman defensive back Jeffrey Okudah (South Grand Prairie, Texas).
Some other notable former First Teamers from championship weekend:
Pac-12: USC vs. Stanford (Friday night)
USC: DL Rasheem Green (2014, Junipero Serra – Gardena, Calif.); DB Iman Marshall (2014, Long Beach Poly); Bubba Bolden (2016, Bishop Gorman – Las Vegas)
Stanford: OL Foster Sarell (2016, Graham-Kapowsin – Graham, Wash.)
Big 12: Oklahoma vs. TCU
Oklahoma: DB Steven Parker (2013, Jenks, Okla.); LB Caleb Kelly (2015, Clovis West – Fresno, Calif.)
ACC: Clemson vs. Miami
Clemson: OL Mitch Hyatt (2014, North Gwinnett – Suwanee, Ga.); RB Tavien Feaster (2014, Spartanburg, S.C.); DL Dexter Lawrence (2015, Wake Forest, N.C.)
Miami: WR Jeff Thomas (2016, East St. Louis, Ill.)