College Football's All-Week 3 First Team: Top Performers at Every Position

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2017

College Football's All-Week 3 First Team: Top Performers at Every Position

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Mason Rudolph and Nic Shimonek combined for more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air in Week 3. College football certainly didn't lack offense during its most recent slate of games.

    But in a week littered with upsets of ranked teams and exciting finishes, standout defenders were easy to find.

    All players from games involving a Football Bowl Subdivision program were considered for the list. Their respective team's performancemeaning a win or a losseffectively had little bearing on whether a player could earn a spot.

    Competition level and clutch plays also factored into the choices, which highlight the best statistical producers of Week 3.

Quarterback

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    First Team: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

    Mason Rudolph only played one possession during the second half. He shouldn't have been able to accumulate these numbers.

    The senior quarterback completed 23 of 32 attempts for 497 yards and five scores, leading touchdown drives on all seven first-half possessions. Rudolph hit four receivers for 100-plus yards in a 59-21 Oklahoma State blowout of Pitt.

    "That's a top-five team for sure," Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said after the loss, per Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman.

          

    Second Team: Nic Shimonek, Texas Tech

    Nic Shimonek capitalized on a perfect opportunity to put up a massive stat line. Arizona State's shaky secondary had a terrible day, helplessly running around as he threw for 543 yards and six touchdowns. Shimonek connected with his target on 37 of 50 passes.

Running Backs

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    First Team: Josh Adams, Notre Dame

    Since we can't use Brandon Wimbush here, his teammate gets the nod. Josh Adams outrushed his quarterback 229-207, setting up three of Wimbush's four touchdown runs.

    But the important point for Adams and the Irish was the 49-20 win at Boston College despite a slow start. While Adams surely would've loved to tally one of Notre Dame's seven rushing scores, he can celebrate the victory all the same after a career-best day.

          

    First Team: John Kelly, Tennessee

    Tennessee's most effective offense in a 26-20 loss to Florida was simple: Get the ball to John Kelly and see what happens. Unfortunately for the Vols, they abandoned this strategy the closer they were to the end zone, but that's another story.

    Kelly scampered for 141 yards on the ground while reeling in six passes for 96 yards—all of which were career-high marks. He scored once during the Vols' fourth-quarter comeback.

          

    Second Team: Ito Smith, Southern Miss

    The breakout game was bound to happen for Ito Smith, one of the nation's most productive backs. He didn't have the usual complement of catches, but Southern Miss surely didn't mind Smith's settling for 219 rushing yards and a touchdown in a 28-17 win over Louisiana-Monroe.

          

    Second Team: Royce Freeman, Oregon

    If it ain't broken, don't fix it. Royce Freeman posted his third consecutive 150-yard outing to begin the season, helping Oregon rout Wyoming 49-13. He finished the contest with 157 yards and three touchdowns, adding a 50-yard catch.

Wide Receivers

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    First Team: Cam Phillips, Virginia Tech

    During the first quarter, East Carolina took a 17-7 lead on the visiting Hokies. And then Cam Phillips took over the game.

    Virginia Tech's best wideout started a string of 57 consecutive points with a 10-yard score. After halftime, the senior added touchdowns of 31 and 45 yards to eliminate the threat of an upset. He finished the 64-17 victory with 189 yards on a school-record 14 receptions.

          

    First Team: Tavares Martin Jr., Washington State

    One week after an offensively challenged victory against Boise State, Washington State left no doubt about the superior attack.

    Tavares Martin Jr. reeled in 10 passes and notched personal-best marks of 194 yards and three touchdowns. All but one of his receptions resulted in a first down or six points during the Cougs' 52-23 dismantling of Oregon State.

          

    Second Team: Anthony Miller, Memphis

    Arguably the best receiver in the country, Anthony Miller snagged a pair of touchdowns in Memphis' 48-45 upset of UCLA. He ended the day with nine catches for 185 yards, including a clutch 34-yard gain that set up the Tigers' go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

          

    Second Team: Jalen McCleskey, Oklahoma State

    Who needs the second half? During the beatdown of Pitt, Jalen McCleskey totaled all seven receptions, 162 yards and three touchdowns before the break. The Panthers kept trying to play man coverage on the speedy wideout, and as you can see, it didn't work.

Tight End

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    First Team: Jaylen Samuels, NC State

    What is Jaylen Samuels' proper position? Maybe it's just "playmaker."

    The versatile weapon caught six passes to claim the No. 3 spot on the program's career receptions list, gaining 75 yards. But he also carried the ball five times for 16 yards and scored three touchdowns to help North Carolina State dispatch Furman 49-16.

          

    Second Team: Jake Roh, Boise State

    Jake Roh only caught three passes, but he sure made them count. In a 28-14 triumph over New Mexico, Roh snagged a pair of touchdowns. Additionally, he lined up as the Wildcat quarterback and rumbled six yards to the house for his first career rushing score.

Offensive Line

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    First Team: Toledo

    Converting on third down can be a major challenge. Toledo must've decided to eliminate those from the game plan.

    The Rockets picked up 29 first downs during a thrilling 54-51 victory over Tulsa, only facing seven third-down situations in the entire game. It was a credit to the balanced blocking of the offensive line, which opened lanes for 221 rushing yards and ceded a single sack.

    Logan Woodside averaged 20.8 yards per completion while throwing for 458 yards and six touchdowns. Cody Thompson paced the receivers with 178 yards and three scores, while Diontae Johnson had 142 yards and two touchdowns.

          

    Second Team: Notre Dame

    Tyler James of the South Bend Tribune notes Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said he challenged the offensive linemen at halftime and "they really responded." That's for sure.

    Adams powered his way to 229 yards, while Wimbush scampered for 207 yards and four touchdowns. Reserve backs Dexter Williams and Tony Jones Jr. combined for three more scores. Additionally, the line surrendered just two tackles for loss with zero sacks.

Defensive Ends

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    First Team: Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois

    For the second time in three weeks, Sutton Smith earned a place on the All-Week team thanks to a standout day against a Power Five conference team.

    The 6'0", 225-pounder amassed six tackles with 3.5 stops for loss, two sacks and one pass breakup in Northern Illinois' 21-17 stunner at Nebraska. Smith's second sack forced the Huskers into a 4th-and-14 and, ultimately, the game-sealing interception.

          

    First Team: Quincy Roche, Temple

    Ordinarily, freshmen have a "welcome to college football" moment because they're overwhelmed in some manner. Quincy Roche, however, flipped the script on Massachusetts.

    Roche, who took a redshirt in 2016, gathered career-high marks of eight tackles, four stops for loss and three sacks in a 29-21 triumph against UMass. He also forced and recovered a fumble.

          

    Second Team: Christian Rector, USC

    Christian Rector was one of two unlikely standouts in USC's 27-24 double-overtime, nail-biting win opposite Texas. He notched personal bests across the board, tallying six stops, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and the critical forced fumble that shaped overtime.

          

    Second Team: Anthony Winbush, Ball State

    Another week, another honor for Anthony Winbush. The defensive end collected seven tackles, 2.5 stops for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble in a 28-13 victory over Tennessee Tech. Winbush now has 9.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in three weeks.

Defensive Tackles

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    Bob Levey/Associated Press

    First Team: Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State

    Jeffery Simmons and the Mississippi State defense gave Stark Vegas something to celebrate in Week 3.

    During a 37-7 demolition of LSU, Simmons posted seven tackles with 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries. The sophomore was an integral part of limiting star running back Derrius Guice to 76 yards on 15 carries and LSU as a whole to 133 yards on the ground.

          

    First Team: Justin Cates, North Carolina A&T

    North Carolina A&T, a Football Championship Subdivision program, went into Charlotte's house and controlled the game. The Aggies totaled 10 tackles for loss in a 35-31 victory over the FBS foe.

    Justin Cates contributed on three of those TFLsand each of them were sacks, including a pair of half-sacks. Of his seven total tackles, six stopped Charlotte at or behind the line of scrimmage.

          

    Second Team: Kevon Perry, Louisiana

    Louisiana came up short against Texas A&M, but Kevon Perry and Co. gave a valiant effort before falling 45-21. The senior nearly doubled his previous career high of five tackles, accumulating nine stops in the loss. Perry had two tackles for loss.

          

    Second Team: Marquise Copeland, Cincinnati

    Defense led Cincinnati to a 21-17 road win over Miami (Ohio). Malik Clements' late pick-six put the Bearcats ahead, but Marquise Copeland helped keep them in position to steal a victory. He tallied seven stops, three tackles for loss and one sack, controlling the interior and holding Miami to 70 rushing yards.

Outside Linebackers

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    First Team: Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

    Leighton Vander Esch started the night on a high note, forcing a fumble on New Mexico's opening drive. Boise State jumped on the loose ball, and the offense turned the takeaway into a touchdown.

    But that was simply the beginning of another quality performance from the junior. Vander Esch collected 13 tackles, one interception and a pass breakup in the 28-14 conference win.

          

    First Team: Devante Downs, Cal

    Just as everyone expectedand by everyone, we mean absolutely no onedefense won the matchup between Ole Miss and Cal.

    Devante Downs played a leading role in the 27-16 triumph, pacing the defense with 14 tackles, three stops for loss and two sacks. He also grabbed an interception that stopped Ole Miss from reaching the red zone and potentially taking an early two-score lead.

          

    Second Team: Jawuan Johnson, Northern Illinois

    Shawun Lurry opened the scoring with a pick-six for Northern Illinois. Jawuan Johnson decided he wanted to join the party, intercepting a Tanner Lee pass and returning it 25 yards to the house to help give the Huskies a quick 14-0 advantage. Johnson gathered nine stops and one tackle for loss during the upset win.

          

    Second Team: LeMarkus Bailey, Mercer

    Auburn has some 'splaining to do. LeMarkus Bailey's numbers, however, speak for themselves. The redshirt junior led Mercer with 11 tackles and had one stop behind the line of scrimmage in a commendable 24-10 loss at Auburn. Bailey forced and recovered a fumble on the opening possession, too.

Inside Linebacker

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    First Team: Micah Kiser, Virginia

    Micah Kiser isn't a household name, but he's one of the most productive defenders in the country. All he does is make plays.

    One week after recording 14 tackles and two sacks, Kiser clipped himself with 15 total stops and two sacks in a 38-18 triumph over UConn. The senior also scooped up a fumble, which stopped a Huskies drive near the goal line and led to a field goal for the Hoos.

          

    Second Team: Anthony Wheeler, Texas

    In the frustrating season-opening loss to Maryland, Anthony Wheeler had a forgettable day. He's over it. The junior linebacker posted 12 tackles with 3.5 stops for loss and 1.5 sacks, though Texas fell short against USC. Still, Wheeler and the Longhorns ceded just 71 rushing yards to an offense that had just shredded Stanford for 307.

Cornerbacks

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    First Team: Kameron Kelly, San Diego State

    Kameron Kelly jumped, secured the interception and sealed the program's first victory over a ranked opponent power-conference team in 36 years.

    San Diego State pulled the late-night upset on 19th-ranked Stanford under the cover of literal darkness. Kelly figuratively turned out the lights in the 20-17 victory, registering six tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in addition to the pick.

          

    First Team: Darious Williams, UAB

    Coastal Carolina only completed nine passes, so UAB needed strong run defense. Darious Williams sure provided it from his spot.

    Of his career-high eight tackles, Williams made three stops behind the line of scrimmage. His previous personal best was just 0.5. Williams chipped in a pass breakup during the 30-23 win.

          

    Second Team: Duke Dawson, Florida

    Until the fourth quarter, defense ruled in Gainesville, Floridaand Duke Dawson made arguably the most important play with a goal-line interception. It protected a 6-3 lead for the Gators, who eventually won 26-20 on a Hail Mary as regulation expired. Dawson otherwise recorded six tackles, one stop for loss and two pass breakups.

          

    Second Team: Shaun Crawford, Notre Dame

    In both 2015 and 2016, Notre Dame had high expectations for Shaun Crawford. However, a pair of serious injuries limited the cornerback to just two total games. That's the drawn-out way of saying his two-interception day opposite Boston College was a long time coming.

Safeties

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    First Team: Armani Watts, Texas A&M

    Armani Watts twice provided a much-needed spark for Texas A&M in a far-too-interesting 45-21 victory over Louisiana.

    Midway through the first quarter, he picked off a pass that led to the game's first touchdown. And when the Aggies trailed 21-14 in the second half, Watts snatched another interception after Louisiana reached A&M territory. Once again, the offense capitalized.

    Watts totaled eight stops, including two tackles for loss, with the two takeaways.

          

    First Team: DeShon Elliott, Texas

    Shortly before halftime, Texas only trailed USC 7-0. DeShon Elliott took advantage of a tipped pass and put the Longhorns on the board.

    He scooped up the football inches off the ground and scampered 38 yards to the house, but Elliott wasn't finished yet. The junior picked off another pass in the fourth quarter, finishing the contest with seven tackles, two takeaways and two pass breakups.

          

    Second Team: C.J. Moore, Ole Miss

    C.J. Moore kept giving Ole Miss a chance to pull away. During the second quarter, he grabbed a pair of interceptions in the end zone to help the Rebels maintain their nine-point edge. Ole Miss eventually fell, but Moore had nine tackles and those two picks.

          

    Second Team: Austin Hudson, Oregon State

    Yes, Washington State rolled to a 52-23 victory. But Austin Hudson put together a commendable performance in his first career start for Oregon State. He amassed 12 total stops with 2.5 tackles for loss and a half-sack, also breaking up two passes.

Kicker

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    First Team: Quinn Nordin, Michigan

    Head coach Jim Harbaugh has some serious concerns to address on offense, but he definitely shouldn't be concerned with the kicking game. Quinn Nordin tied a school record in a 29-13 victory over Air Force, kicking five field goals for the Wolverines. He connected from 35, 26, 49, 29 and 36 yards, adding a pair of extra points.

          

    Second Team: Matt Gay, Utah

    While the offense encountered a few issues finishing drives early on against San Jose State, the problems didn't extend to special teams. Matt Gay converted on three field goalsincluding a pair from 50-plus yardsduring the first quarter. He also hit 21- and 20-yard attempts in the 54-16 win and buried six extra points.

Punter

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    First Team: Drew Galitz, Baylor

    Baylor dropped to 0-3 on the year after falling to Duke 34-20. At least the punter was great! Drew Galitz posted an impressive net average of 53.1 yards on seven kicks. Although only three of his punts ended inside the 20, that explains how much Baylor needed Galitz to flip field positionand he consistently did.

          

    Second Team: Will Spiers, Clemson

    Will Spiers helped Clemson win every phase of the game during the 47-21 triumph at Louisville. Though one punt was a touchback, his other three kicks netted 65, 55 and 46 yards while pinning Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals inside the 10-yard line each time.

Returner

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    First Team: Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan

    One week after being removed from punt returns due to communication issues, Donovan Peoples-Jones redeemed himself.

    The explosive freshman took a punt 79 yards to the house during Michigan's 29-13 victory against Air Force. Peoples-Jones returned another punt 25 yards that set up a Nordin field goal.

          

    Second Team: Dante Pettis, Washington

    Dante Pettis entered the season with five career punt-return touchdowns. Just three weeks into the campaign, that number has soared to eight. He scored on special teams for the third straight game, running 77 yards past Fresno State.

    Pettis also starred at receiver with five catches for 92 yards and three touchdowns in the 48-16 win.

          

    All recruiting information viaScout. Stats from cfbstats.com or B/R research. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.