ESPN's 2023 college football All-America team

ByChris Low ESPN logo
Thursday, December 14, 2023

In a season with very little controversy, there won't be any with ESPN's 2023 All-America team either (note the sarcasm).

Controversy and college football are synonymous, not to mention conspiracy theories, all of which make the sport so much fun and so entertaining. It's never dull.

There were some difficult choices on our All-America team, particularly at receiver. There was also no shortage of sensational quarterback play this season.

Only five players made all three of our All-America teams (preseason, midseason and postseason) in 2023: Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, Georgia center Sedrick Van Pran, Kansas State offensive guard Cooper Beebe, Alabama outside linebacker Dallas Turner and Georgia safety Malaki Starks.

Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt, Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., Beebe, Bowers and Van Pran were all repeat selections from a year ago.


QB: Jayden Daniels, LSU

Daniels went from being an upper-tier quarterback in the SEC a year ago to the Heisman Trophy winner this season, LSU's second Heisman winner in the past five years (Joe Burrow, 2019). In his fifth college season, Daniels was nothing short of spectacular in a record-setting campaign that saw him pass for 3,812 yards, rush for 1,134 yards and account for 50 touchdowns.

Second team: Michael Penix Jr., Washington

RB: Cody Schrader, Missouri

From Truman State to a walk-on at Missouri, Schrader has exemplified what it means to bet on yourself and never give up on your dreams. He leads all FBS players with an average of 124.9 rushing yards per game. His 1,499 rushing yards are 433 more than the closest SEC running back, and he became only the 10th FBS player ever to rush for 200 yards and have 100 receiving yards in the same game this season against Tennessee.

Second team: Omarion Hampton, North Carolina

RB: Ollie Gordon II, Oklahoma State

There were wild ups and downs for Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys managed to make it to the Big 12 championship game with Gordon leading the way. He carried the ball just 19 times in his first three games, but took off after that to pile up an FBS-leading 1,614 rushing yards and finish second with 20 rushing touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 211-pound sophomore leads all Power 5 players with 1,940 all-purpose yards.

Second team: Audric Estime, Notre Dame

WR: Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

There was some concern in Columbus after Harrison sprained an ankle in a Sept. 23 win over Notre Dame, but he quickly returned to form to repeat as an ESPN All-American. One of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy, Harrison averaged 18.1 yards per catch, which leads all FBS players with more than 60 receptions, and he's tied for second nationally with 14 touchdown catches to go along with a rushing touchdown.

Second team: Malik Washington, Virginia

Nabers had an incredible 34 catches of 20 yards or longer and 17 of 30 yards or longer. He and Daniels formed the most explosive pass-catch combo in the country. Nabers leads the FBS with an average of 128.8 receiving yards per game and is tied for second with 14 touchdown catches. (The only player with more is teammate Brian Thomas Jr. with 15.) Nabers was Pro Football Focus' highest graded receiver (93.0).

Second team: Rome Odunze, Washington

TE: Brock Bowers, Georgia

It's easy to make a case that Bowers, when healthy, is the best player in the country. But even after undergoing ankle surgery and not being 100 percent when he returned, Bowers was still the nation's best tight end. He catches everything, runs great routes, picks up yards after the catch and blocks like an offensive lineman. Bowers leads all FBS tight ends with an average of 71.4 receiving yards per game and is tied for the lead with six touchdown catches, all in just 10 games.

Second team: Dallin Holker, Colorado State

OT: Joe Alt,Notre Dame

Alt is a two-time ESPN All-American and has been a fixture for the Irish at left tackle since the early stages of his freshman season. The 6-8, 322-pound junior has made 33 consecutive starts and is incredibly agile for a guy his size. He started out as a tight end. Alt has given up just one sack and four quarterback pressures in 368 pass-blocking assignments this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Second team: JC Latham, Alabama

OG: Cooper Beebe, Kansas State

Beebe joins Alt as a two-time All-American on our offensive line and has been a staple on Kansas State's line since his freshman season. The 6-4, 335-pound senior has played right tackle and left tackle, but settled in at left guard the last two seasons. A career 47-game starter, Beebe has allowed just one sack in his last 1,224 pass-blocking snaps, dating to the start of his sophomore season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Second team: Tanner Miller, Oregon State

C: Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia

The winner of the Jacobs Award this season as the SEC's top blocker, Van Pran has started the last 43 games at center for Georgia, with the Bulldogs going 41-2 in that span. Georgia weathered some injuries in its offensive line this season, but continued to play at an elite level. Van Pran's toughness, experience and leadership were a driving force in the Dawgs ranking in the top 10 nationally in scoring and total offense.

Honorable mention:Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon

OG: Zak Zinter, Michigan

Zinter has been the heartbeat of the Michigan offensive line for the past three seasons, which made it especially difficult for everyone in maize and blue to see him go down in the Ohio State game with a broken tibia and fibula. A team captain, the 6-6, 322-pound Zinter was equally effective in pass protection and run blocking and has appeared in 45 games with 42 starts, all but one at right guard.

Second team: Christian Haynes, UConn

OT: Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

The right side of the Oregon State offensive line featured the imposing tandem of Fuaga at tackle and Tanner Miller at guard. The 6-6, 334-pound Fuaga took another huge step in his second full season as a starter and established himself as one of the premier run-blocking tackles in college football. He received the second-highest grade among FBS tackles this season by Pro Football Focus.

Second team: Patrick Paul, Houston

All-purpose: Ashton Jeanty, Boise State

Jeanty followed up a big season with a big announcement -- he plans to return to Boise State next season. The 5-9, 210-pound running back led the FBS in scrimmage yards per game at 164.9 in helping the Broncos win the Mountain West championship. Jeanty was the only player in the country with more than 1,200 rushing yards (1,262) and more than 500 receiving yards (552). A true sophomore, Jeanty accounted for 19 touchdowns, 14 rushing and five receiving.

Second team: Ismail Mahdi, Texas State


DE/Edge: Laiatu Latu, UCLA

What a journey it's been for Latu. He had to medically retire from football after missing the 2020 and 2021 seasons with a neck injury while at Washington. But he's been a defensive dynamo at UCLA and won the Lombardi Award this season as the best lineman in the country. Latu was the ultimate game-changer on defense. He leads all FBS players with 21.5 tackles for loss, including 13 sacks. He also has two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Second team: Jared Verse, Florida State

DT: T'Vondre Sweat, Texas

Good luck in getting any push on the 6-4, 362-pound Sweat, who almost always is the one doing the pushing regardless of how many guys are trying to block him. Sweat is the anchor of a Texas defense ranked fourth nationally against the run (allowing just 80.1 yards per game). He's extremely quick for a player his size and has eight tackles for loss and four pass breakups at the line of scrimmage.

Second team: Howard Cross III, Notre Dame

DT: Jer'Zhan Newton, Illinois

The 6-2, 295-pound Newton could have turned pro a year ago, but returned to Illinois and was even better his senior season. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and had a tackle for loss in seven of 12 games. Newton leads Illinois with 7.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries. He also blocked four kicks and tied for the Power 5 lead with 32 tackles that constituted a "failure" for the offense, according to Pro Football Focus.

Second team: Byron Murphy II, Texas

OLB/Edge: Dallas Turner, Alabama

Turner was named the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches, the fourth straight year an Alabama player has won the award. The 6-4, 252-pound junior spearheaded a defense that held opponents to 24 or fewer points 10 times during the Tide's 11-game winning streak. Turner leads Alabama with 13.5 tackles for loss, including nine sacks, and has 13 quarterback pressures.

Second team: Jalen Green, James Madison

LB: Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson

Each of Trotter's past two seasons have been ultra productive, and now he's off to the NFL after leading Clemson in total tackles (88), tackles for loss (15) and sacks (5.5) in 2023. One of three finalists for the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in the nation, the 6-foot, 230-pound Trotter is more than just a tackling machine. He broke up six passes and also had two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Second team: Nathaniel Watson, Mississippi State

LB: Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

The Aggies' senior middle linebacker was never far from the ball this season with his combination of speed, athleticism and power. He ranks among the Power 5 leaders with 17 tackles for loss, including eight sacks, and also has 10 quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. But what separates him is his pass coverage. He has the third-highest coverage grade among linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus.

Second team: Jason Henderson, Old Dominion

LB: Payton Wilson, NC State

What didn't Wilson do for the Wolfpack on defense this season? On his way to winning the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker, Wilson racked up 138 total tackles, including 17.5 for loss (ranking in the top six nationally in both categories), and also broke up 10 passes, recovered two fumbles, forced a fumble and had three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

Second team: Jay Higgins, Iowa

CB: Mike Sainristil, Michigan

The two-time Michigan captain made enough impactful plays for the Wolverines to last a lifetime. Sainristil switched from receiver to nickel cornerback last season and was then forced to move to outside cornerback in the Ohio State game this season. He just kept producing wherever he lined up. He forced two turnovers in the Big Ten championship game and leads the Wolverines with five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

Second team: Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

CB: Terrion Arnold, Alabama

When Nick Saban has big-time cornerbacks on both sides of the field, that's good news for Alabama and bad news for everybody else. Arnold teams with Kool-Aid McKinstry to give the Crimson Tide one of the best cornerback duos in the country. Arnold leads Alabama with five interceptions and 11 pass breakups, and his 6.5 tackles for loss lead all Tide defensive backs.

Second team: Cooper DeJean, Iowa

S: Malaki Starks, Georgia

That Starks walked out of high school and into Georgia's starting defensive backfield indicates how talented he is. The 6-1, 205-pound sophomore has started 27 games in two seasons. He's fourth in total tackles this season for the Dawgs (51) and has two interceptions to go along with seven pass breakups. Starks played his best football in Georgia's biggest games.

Second team: Tyler Nubin, Minnesota

S: Xavier Watts, Notre Dame

Watts came to Notre Dame as a receiver and didn't become a full-time starter at safety until this season. The 6-foot, 204-pound senior blossomed into one of the best defenders in college football in winning the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is given annually to the top defensive player in the country. Watts leads the nation with seven interceptions and is tied for fourth on Notre Dame with 47 total tackles.

Second team: Trey Taylor, Air Force


K: Graham Nicholson: Miami (Ohio)

Nicholson booted three field goals in Miami's 23-14 upset of Toledo in the MAC championship game and made at least one field goal in all 13 games this season. The junior from Cincinnati had connected on 25 straight field goal attempts before missing a 48-yarder in the MAC title game. It was his only miss of the season. Nicholson was 10-of-11 from 40-plus yards, with a long of 52 yards.

Second team: Jose Pizano, UNLV

Taylor's 86 punts lead the nation, and he's third nationally with an average of 47.9 yards. His ability to flip field position, despite Iowa's struggles on offense, was a big reason the Hawkeyes were able to win 10 games and get to the Big Ten championship game. Taylor leads the country with 32 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, and Iowa is third nationally in net punting at 43.6 yards per game.

Second team: Ryan Rehkow, BYU

While USC's season was a disappointment, one of the Trojans' newer faces provided hope for the future. Branch, a true freshman receiver, returned both a kickoff and punt for touchdowns. He is averaging 20.6 yards on 15 punt returns and has three returns of 60 yards or longer. As a receiver, Branch has 29 catches, two for touchdowns.

Second team: Jayden Harrison,Marshall

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