Mike White, Corey Davis lead PFF's 2016 All-Group of Five team
Following up on the release of our All-American team we’re now rolling out our All-Group of Five team. While the spotlight may not have been as bright, there were some lesser-known players who had extremely impressive seasons.
Check out who made our first- and second-team selections below:
Quarterback: Mike White, Western Kentucky
While White did not have the flashy games that Greg Ward Jr. or Josh Allen played this year, he was the most consistent Group of Five quarterback in 2016. Not many knew what to expect from White before the season, but he was able to replace Brandon Doughty, who was one of the best quarterbacks in the nation last season. Although the Western Kentucky quarterback was victimized by 30 drops – the third-most in the Group of Five – he still threw 34 touchdown passes, which was the third-most outside the Power-5 conferences.
Second Team: Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee State
Running back: Kareem Hunt, Toledo
While many might expected San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey to earn this spot, Hunt was the most electric runner in the Group of Five this year and offered more as a receiving threat too. Although Hunt only ran for seven touchdowns, on his 240 carries he broke 69 tackles, which is one more than what Pumphrey managed on 325 carries.
Second Team: Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State
Fullback: Nick Bawden, San Diego State
While Bawden did not carry the football often, he provided an enormous help to the player who carried it the most in 2016 in Donnel Pumphrey. Bawden had an incredible 424 run blocking snaps, which was a huge reason behind San Diego State’s success on the ground.
Second Team: Toneo Gulley, Navy
Wide receiver: Zay Jones, East Carolina; Corey Davis, Western Michigan
I doubt anyone is surprised these two players make up the wide receiver position on this team as both have received significant national spotlight in 2016. Jones led the nation with an incredible 217 targets, which was more than 50 clear of Noel Thomas, who had the second most targets. Furthermore, Jones led all wide receivers with 1,743 receiving yards. Western Michigan’s Davis is widely considered as the best wide receiver in the 2017 NFL draft and while he was not as dominant as he was in 2015, he still had a solid senior season. He led all wide receivers with 18 receiving touchdowns as he helped Western Michigan to a perfect season.
Second Team: Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois; Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
Slot receiver: Nicholas Norris, Western Kentucky
While he did not have the most targets or receptions, Norris was the most efficient slot receiver as he led all players in the nation with 13 receiving touchdowns from the slot. Furthermore, he led slot receivers with an average 3.40 yards per route run from the slot, which was 0.34 yards clear of second place Jonathan Giles. These numbers also help to overlook the ten passes he dropped from the slot.
Second Team: Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Tight end: Michael Roberts, Toledo
The scarcity of good pass-catching tight ends, especially who can run block, is evident in college football. However, Roberts is one of the true versatile tight ends in the nation who can do damage in the passing game and can open lanes with his blocking too. Even though he only had the 12th most targets in 2016, Roberts led all tight ends by a comfortable margin with 15 receiving touchdowns.
Second Team: Gerald Everett, South Alabama
Offensive tackle: Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky; Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
We had high expectations for both Lamp and Moton as they made our Preseason All-Group of Five Team and both lived up to the hype. Furthermore, neither player allowed a single sack all season long. Lamp even held his own against the best defense in the nation as he gave up only one pressure against Alabama in Week 2. As for Moton, he made a seamless transition from guard to tackle this season as he continued to be dominant in the running game and adjusted very well in pass protection and allowed only eight total pressures on 408 passing plays.
Second Team: Dejon Allen, Hawaii; Daniel Brunskill, San Diego State
Guard: Will Hernandez, UTEP; Nico Siragusa, San Diego State
Hernandez’s dominance is nearly unprecedented as he pushed defenders around like no other guard in college football and did not allow a single pressure on 378 passing plays. San Diego State’s Siragusa was a big reason behind running back Donnel Pumphrey’s incredible season and he allowed only two pressures in 2016, neither of which resulted in the quarterback going to the ground.
Second Team: Jeremiah Kolone, San Jose State; Fred Zerblis, Colorado State
Center: Will Kreitler, UNLV
There were several deserving candidates for this position and in the end it was Kreitler’s consistency that earned it for him. While he was one of the more dominant blockers, UNLV’s Kreitler held his own in pass protection too as he did not allow a single sack and surrendered only six pressures all season.
Second Team: Evan Brown, SMU
Edge rusher: Trey Hendrickson, Florida Atlantic; Chris Odom, Arkansas State
There was a lot of talk before and during the season about the dominant pass-rushers on the college football powerhouses, but the Group of Five also featured some terrific edge rushers. Not only did Hendrickson lead all 4-3 defensive ends with 78 total pressures, he was also the most efficient as he recorded these on 299 pass rushing snaps, leading to a pass rushing productivity score of 20.3, the best figure in college football. While Odom only had the second-most sacks on his own team, he made up for it with additional quarterback hits and hurries, as well as some stout run defense.
Second Team: Terence Waugh, Kent State; Tarell Basham, Ohio
Defensive interior: Ed Oliver, Houston; Tanzel Smart, Tulane
True freshman Ed Oliver burst onto the college football scene with a dominant performance against 2015 College Football Playoff team Oklahoma and he did not slow down since. He earned the second-highest run defense among all interior defenders and capped off the year with sacking Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson twice in his best game of the season. While Oliver received significant recognition, Tulane’s Tanzel Smart has been flying under the radar for quite some time in the same conference. Whereas Oliver stands out with his run defense, Smart is a disruptive force to be reckoned with on passing plays and had the fifth-best pass rushing productivity in the nation as he racked up 47 total pressures on 374 pass rushing snaps.
Second Team: John Stepec, Toledo; Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte
Linebacker: Blair Brown, Ohio; Calvin Munson, San Diego State; Keith Brown, Western Kentucky
The two Browns and Munson are three of the most versatile linebackers in college football as they are all stout run defenders, are capable to drop into coverage and can rush the passer too. Keith Brown and Blair Brown are number one and two in the nation when it comes to run stop percentage, just ahead of Alabama’s Reuben Foster and Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham. What’s even more impressive is that Ohio’s Brown missed only two tackles in the run game while he made 63 tackles. Munson lived up to the hype and had an excellent senior season as a leader of the San Diego State defense and finished 2016 with 25 total pressures, which was the fifth most among inside linebackers.
Second Team: Shaquem Griffin, UCF; Kevin Davis, Colorado State; Kaden Elliss, Idaho
Cornerback: Arthur Maulet, Memphis; Shaquill Griffin, UCF
Maulet had an incredible bounce-back season after being one of the lowest-graded cornerbacks in college football in 2015. He allowed less than 50 percent of passes going his way to be completed and gave up only 371 yards and one touchdown on 88 targets. The only thing that avoided Maulet was interceptions as he only had two to his 11 pass breakups. Griffin allowed one of the lowest completion percentages in college football with 40.9 percent and allowed four touchdowns, the same number as many interceptions he recorded. In addition, Griffin has been one of the best cornerbacks against the run this year.
Second Team: Najee Murray, Kent State; Torry McTyer, UNLV
Slot cornerback: Michael Egwuagu, UTSA
However, when it comes to the run, no cornerback plays it better than UTSA’s hybrid Michael Egwuagu. Egwuagu’s right to be on this team cannot be argued, unlike the position he plays on the defense. He lined up at all linebacker positions as well as in the slot and as a deep and box safety and he played well at all positions. Mike Tyson’s late-season injury and some dip in performance also helped Egwuagu earn the nod here.
Second Team: Mike Tyson, Cincinnati
Safety: Brodie Hicks, Air Force; Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech
While many expected this team to feature a safety from Air Force, it probably wasn’t Hicks. However, Hicks proved to be more consistent in 2016 than fellow Falcon Weston Steelhammer. Hicks kept making plays both against the run and pass all season long. However, what really helped him stand out was his tackling as he had the best tackling efficiency in the entire nation and missed only two tackles. Woods was the most versatile Group of Five safety in 2016 as he was tied for the most sacks as well as tied for the fourth most interceptions. The Louisiana Tech safety has really come along in the second half of the season as he prevented several completions from his deep safety position.
Second Team: Kris Weatherspoon, Troy; Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
Kicker: Jason Sanders, New Mexico
Sanders made 11 of his 12 field goal attempts this season, including all five of his kicks from over 40 yards. In addition, 67 of his 82 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks and only 14.6 percent were returned, the lowest ratio in entire college football.
Second Team: Jake Elliott, Memphis
Punter: Michael Carrizosa, San Jose State
Carrizosa was a busy man with 60 punts, but he did the best job at his position in the Group of Five as he averaged 44.2 yards per punt and complemented length with good hangtimes, including a season-high 5.37 seconds on one of his punts.
Second Team: Nick Jacobs, Memphis
K/PR: Darius Phillips, Western Michigan
Western Michigan’s Phillips was dangerous whenever he could get his hands on the football, including defense and special teams as well. Phillips was returning both kickoffs and punts and was actually the only player in the Group of Five this year to score on a punt return and a kickoff return as well.
Second Team: Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Special Teamer: Branden Leston, Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky’s Leston made a 16 tackles on special teams, the most by anyone in the Group of Five, while not missing on a single attempt.
Second Team: Justin Moody, Eastern Michigan