Most Overrated and Underrated Players of the 2012 AP All-America Team
The 2012 AP All-American selections were released on Tuesday. A number of big names were chosen for the prestigious squad, as were a few lesser-known college football stars.
Looking through the list, there are a few players that appear to have ridden reputation and not stats to the top, while others were seemingly overlooked.
Here is a look at the most overrated and underrated players on the 2012 AP All-American list.
Overrated: Montee Ball, Wisconsin, Running Back
There were a number of big performances from running backs this season in college football. Guys like Dri Archer and Ameer Abdullah burst onto the scene, but past stars, like Montee Ball, were also among the nation’s elite.
By the end of the year, Ball had put together an impressive season, but he did not merit a first-team selection. Kenjon Barner had a better season and earned second-team honors, while Stepfan Taylor didn’t even receive an All-American listing despite carrying his team to a much better record with comparable stats.
Ball carried the football a ton of times, but his overall performance was watered down compared to his junior season. His senior campaign was worthy of All-American status, but not first team. Ball is overrated.
Underrated: Dri Archer, Kent State, Running Back
Dri Archer split time in the Kent State backfield this season with Trayion Durham, but he was still able to average nine yards a carry and rush for 15 touchdowns.
Archer was also effective in the Kent State passing game, snagging 35 receptions for 539 yards and four touchdowns. Archer was the most electric all-purpose back in the country this season.
The AP placed Archer on the All-American list as the third-team all-purpose player. While it was a wise move to place him on the list, Archer was better than a third-teamer. His performance was vastly underrated by the AP this year.
Overrated: D.J. Fluker, Alabama, Offensive Tackle
D.J. Fluker was an integral part of one of the best offensive lines in the country this season. Fluker is a physical specimen and does work when he's called on to run-block.
Against the pass, Fluker has issues. The Tide are No. 26 in the country in sacks allowed and Fluker has been a big part of that letdown all season. He was selected as a second-team All-American by the AP, but the voters ignored the pass rush that always seemed to beat Fluker this year.
For Fluker to continue his rise in the collegiate ranks he has to get better at pass-blocking—he wasn't worthy of his second-team All-American spot.
Underrated: Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame, Tight End
Tyler Eifert won the Mackey Award earlier this year as the nation's best tight end, so anything less than a first-team selection gives him automatic underrated status.
Granted, Stanford tight end Zach Ertz had a great season as well and deserves every bit of his first-team listing, but how can the No. 1 player at the position not be a first-team All-American?
It doesn’t add up to me, either, so Eifert lands on the underrated list. Eifert will continue to show his greatness in January when his Irish take on Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
Overrated: Tavon Austin, West Virginia, Wide Receiver
Tavon Austin was one of the most explosive players during the 2012 season, taking on a huge role in West Virginia's offensive attack.
Austin is typically used as a receiver, but at times this year he was utilized as a primary running back for the Mountaineers. Against Oklahoma he was able to gain 344 yards on the ground on only 21 carries.
While his numbers were impressive, Austin was not the best all-purpose player in college football this season. If it came down to Dri Archer or Austin, I would take Archer. Austin is good, but his first-team listing is a stretch by the AP.
Underrated: Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas, Wide Receiver
The Arkansas Razorbacks headed into 2012 as possible dark-horse national title candidates. Fast-forward 12 games, and the Hogs are not even bowl eligible.
What little success Arkansas did have this fall came from the passing game. Cobi Hamilton was a major part of that success, finishing the year with 90 receptions.
Hamilton had five games with over 10 catches and six games with over 98 receiving yards this season. Hamilton is listed as a third-team All-American, but his performance was overshadowed by Arkansas’ lack of team success, making him an underappreciated star.
Overrated: Bjoern Werner, Florida State, Defensive End
The Florida State Seminoles were expected to be a challenger for the national championship this year, but a disappointing loss to N.C. State ended those title dreams.
Despite the team falling from the title discussion, Bjoern Werner and his team continued to battle for wins. Werner finished the year as one of the most effective defensive ends in the game, but there were others that were better.
As much as Werner was killing the ACC with his play, Damontre Moore was doing more in the tougher SEC at Texas A&M. Werner was good, but his first-team selection has him a bit overrated.
Underrated: Giovani Bernard, North Carolina, Running Back
Giovani Bernard finished the year as one of the best running backs in the ACC. He helped the Tar Heels push for an eight-win season, and despite missing two games was able to muster 1,228 rushing yards and 490 receiving yards.
Bernard also averaged 6.7 yards per carry this season. He was a dangerous dual-threat in the North Carolina offense, amassing 15 carries or more eight times and catching three or more passes in nine games.
He was selected as a third-team All-American, but he put together a better season than a number of those selected above him. Bernard’s tenacity and ability to overcome injury were impressive, and he is one of the most underrated players on the AP list.
Overrated: Matt Elam, Florida, Safety
Matt Elam helped lead one of the best defenses in the country to an 11-win season at Florida, but a first-team selection by the AP is a bit of a stretch.
Elam put together an impressive season, but second-teamer Eric Reid was just as impressive and impactful for LSU. Ed Reynolds for Stanford was selected as a third-teamer, and he put together a better year than both Reid and Elam.
For Elam to land a first-team selection is not surprising, but there were other safeties that performed at a higher level than him.
Underrated: AJ McCarron, Alabama, Quarterback
AJ McCarron is easily the most underrated quarterback in the college game. He pulled a third-team All-American selection from the AP, but his overall performance as a leading signal-caller is worthy of more than a third-team listing.
Ahead of him are Collin Klein and Johnny Manziel—both Heisman finalists—but looking at the body of work by all three, McCarron is a better overall quarterback than Klein.
McCarron finished the year as the most efficient passer in college football and has the Tide playing for a second straight national title. It's safe to say that the AP highly undervalues the Alabama quarterback.