Renowned college football expert Phil Steele has slowly been releasing his all-conference teams over the past few days, but they were all leading up to Friday’s announcement of his preseason All-America team.
Well, Steele has released his picks of the best players in the country at each position heading into the 2014 college football season, and there are some surprises, mainly right at the top.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was given the nod at first-team quarterback over reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. Although he battled through injuries last season, Mariota still finished the year as one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the game, becoming the first Ducks quarterback to finish the season with over 4,000 total yards.
After pondering a trip to the NFL over the offseason, Mariota decided to return to Eugene this year for one more run at the Heisman, as well as the national championship that has eluded he and his team.
The defensive side of the ball is led by Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, who like Mariota also passed up the opportunity to play at the professional level and return to the Tigers for a run at the national title with head coach Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Finally, the most familiar name on the first-team special teams is that of Florida State’s Levonte ‘Kermit’ Whitfield, who introduced himself to the nation in the BCS National Championship Game against the Auburn Tigers when he returned a kickoff 100 yards to give the Seminoles the lead late in the fourth quarter and propel them to their first national championship since 1999.
For an entire look at the Phil Steele 2014 Preseason All-America teams, you can simply click here.