Alabama is accustomed to leading the nation, and that was the case Thursday when the Walter Camp All-America team was announced with the Crimson Tide having three first team honorees – the most of any team in the country – and five total selections.
Derrick Henry, who is a Heisman Trophy finalist and also presented with the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back on Thursday, was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year. He was joined on the first team Walter Camp All-America squad by Alabama teammates center Ryan Kelly, who was also named winner of the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center, and linebacker Reggie Ragland.
Junior defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson and junior safety Eddie Jackson represented Alabama on the second team.
These men will lead Alabama into the College Football Playoff with a semifinal game against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.
Henry has rushed for a school- and SEC-record 1,986 yards and 23 touchdowns on 339 carries in his first season as the team’s starting running back. He leads the nation in rushing yards and touchdowns and is second in yards per game with 152.8. Henry has recorded four 200-plus yard performances this year, joining Herschel Walker (Georgia) and Bo Jackson (Auburn) as the only backs in SEC history to record four in one season. He has matched the all-time SEC single-season rushing touchdown mark and has recorded a rushing touchdown in 18 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the country and the most by any player in SEC history.
Ragland has captained an Alabama defense that is widely regarded as the best in the country. The unit ranks first nationally in rushing defense (74 ypg), second in total defense (258.2 ypg), third in scoring defense (14.4 ppg) and fourth in pass efficiency defense (100.98). Ragland has posted a team-leading 90 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss (-23 yards) and 2.5 sacks (-10 yards). He also has recorded six pass breakups, six quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
As senior leader and anchor of the Alabama offensive line, Kelly has made all offensive line calls during his 34 career starts. He has graded out at an average of 88.4 percent, including five games over 90 percent, and has not graded out below 84 percent all season. Kelly only missed eight assignments in 948 snaps for a success rate of 99.2 percent and has 16 knockdown blocks from his center position. He also has not allowed a sack this season and only surrendered four quarterback hurries. Kelly has helped clear a path for 208.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks 27th nationally and third in the SEC. He blocked for nine 100-yard games for Derrick Henry, including a school record four games over 200 yards.
Robinson has been a disruptive force in the middle of the Crimson Tide’s vaunted defensive front, which leads the country in sacks (46). He has a career-high 42 tackles this season, including 7.5 for a loss (-25 yards) and 3.5 sacks (-19 yards). In addition, Robinson has nine quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and one blocked point after touchdown try.
Jackson leads an Alabama defensive secondary that ranks second nationally in passes defended (81) and third in pass breakups (65). He leads the SEC with five interceptions and 230 return yards, including two pick-sixes, in his first season manning the safety position. Jackson has also added 40 tackles, including three for a loss (-12 yards), two pass breakups, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. His 230 interception return yards are an all-time high for a single season in Alabama history and currently rank second nationally as well.
This is the second All-American team selection for Henry, Ragland, Kelly and Robinson this season.
The Walter Camp All-America teams are selected by the head coaches and sports information directors of the 129 FBS schools and certified by Marcum LLP, a New Haven-based accounting firm. This is the 126th edition of the Walter Camp All-America team – the nation’s oldest All-America team.