Heading into the 2012 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation's leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall's stars could be the headline players next April for the 2013 NFL Draft.
First-Team Tight End: Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Eifert was the Second-Team All-American tight end for his excellent 2011 season. Only Clemson's Dwayne Allen was rated ahead of him. Eifert was chosen over Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, the first tight end selected in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Fighting Irish had a two-pronged passing attack featuring wide receiver Michael Floyd and Eifert.
The Irish had inconsistent quarterback play last season, but Eifert was excellent with his performance. He caught 63 passes for 803 yards and five touchdowns. Eifert did a decent job as a blocker, but he should still improve his blocking ability for the next level.
Eifert had a solid debut with 27 receptions for 352 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore in 2010. With Floyd in the NFL, Eifert could be the No. 1 receiver for quarterback Tommy Rees. Eifert is a good security blanket for a quarterback, especially a limited one like Rees, so it wouldn't be surprising if the tight end increases his reception total in the 70-85 range.
The 6-foot-6, 251-pounder runs well, has great hands and is a tough receiver. Eifert has made a lot of difficult catches in the middle of the field where he was laid out with some big hits. Eifert took the hits and kept coming back. Right now, he has NFL receiving ability and looks secure as a first- or second-round pick.
Second-Team Tight End: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
From the beginning of the 2011 season, Seferian-Jenkins was a freshman star for the Huskies. He was a superb receiving target for new starter Keith Price. Seferian-Jenkins totaled 41 receptions for 538 yards and six touchdowns last season. He is a great athlete who combines rare speed and quickness. The 6-foot-6, 258-pounder is already built like an NFL tight end.
It is rare for underclassmen to make the All-American teams as the majority of players are juniors or seniors. Still, Seferian-Jenkins is probably the most athletically-gifted tight end in college football. Thus, I see him being an All-American over upperclassmen. He showed his athleticism by playing on Washington's basketball team after football season ended.
Seferian-Jenkins has massive upside and should be even better as a sophomore and junior. With the NFL's increased emphasis on the tight end, there figure to be a ton of teams that will be dying to land him when he turns pro.
Third-Team Tight End: Joseph Fauria, UCLA
Fauria is a very well-rounded tight end. He is a solid blocker and a nice receiver. Fauria was UCLA's second leading receiver last year, catching 39 balls for 481 yards and six touchdowns. With Corey Harkey in the NFL, Fauria should see more playing time in 2012. He was a backup in 2010 after sitting out the 2009 season because he transferred from Notre Dame.
Fauria (6-7, 258) should see plenty of opportunities this season since he is one of the Bruins' best weapons on offense. Fauria is a good red-zone weapon who could produce more if UCLA works the ball to him.
Honorable Mentions: Ohio State tight end Jake Stoneburner, Nebraska tight end Kyler Reed, Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, Alabama tight end Michael Williams, Stanford tight end Zac Ertz, Florida tight end Jordan Reed and Rutgers tight end D.C. Jefferson.
Walter your inability to bet the Patriots all year with Brady on the team is inexplicable. Yes, since Brady came back from suspension, you bet the Patriots 0 times, even though they covered as decent and often huge favorites. Why? Why are you more afraid than Goodell is to show up at Foxborough to bet on a great team to beat inferior oponents by a large margin? You lost out on a lot of money. As for the Patriots defense who will be "overwhelmed" by Pittsburgh hahaha, the Patriots defense has stepped up when it needed to. Logan Ryan who is not even the best DB let alone CB on the team just had a dominant game covering one of the best wide receivers in the league. And you're going to say that Brady can't go stride for stride against Big Ben who, with his 0 TD performance last Sunday, once again proved that he has turned into an awful road playoff QB? You know what 0 TDs will win you in the AFC Championship game? I don't believe that betting on Pitt getting 6 points is a bad decision - seeing as I may do the same. But to predict the Patriots to straight up lose is laughable. The advantage they have on defense and coaching is pretty big and they may even be even offensively solely because Brady has been using Edelman more and more and Dion Lewis's return has shown to be very important.