I've watched a heckuva lot of college football this year—just ask my roommate—and I've seen a lot outstanding players.
The All-Conference and All-American selections have already been announced, but I would like to chime in with a ballot of my own and laud the efforts of some players that the voters might have overlooked.
For some players, it took convincing, and for others, it was a no-brainer.
I present to you my selections for college football All-Americans in 2009.
Moore leads the nation in quarterback passer rating and has been the engine that drives the Boise State offense to their second BCS bid in the Broncos' short history as leaders of the WAC.
Despite lacking stature and physical tools, Moore makes terrific reads and is one of the best students of the game.
Moore has thrown for 3325 yards and 39 touchdowns to only three interceptions.
His 39 passing TDs are four less than Houston's Case Keenum, despite the fact that Keenum plays in a predominantly pass-happy system.
So, I was wrong. Toby Gerhart is getting unequivocal accolades without any sign of abating.
But it's certainly not something I feel bad being wrong about. He was the presumptive leading candidate for the Heisman trophy until Ndamukong Suh dominated the Big 12 Championship, and has superior stats to Mark Ingram, the Alabama running back who flagged against Auburn before staging a heoric performance (though light on yards) against Florida.
Gerhart's finale against Notre Dame was leaps and bounds better than Colt McCoy's, his main competition from Hook 'Em University.
Gerhart put on a white-hot performance particularly in the latter part of the year, rushing for 400+ yards and six touchdowns in back-to-back upsets of top 10 outfits from Oregon and USC.
He leads the country in yards, attempts, and touchdowns and has single handedly remolded the Stanford Cardinal in his image, resurrecting the perennial Pac-10 doormat into a punishing contender.
Fresno State was light on signature wins, losing to Boise State and Wisconsin and barely squeaking by a doldrum Illini outfit, but Matthews' production remained consistent throughout the year.
He rushed for 100+ yards in every game until Nevada, when he went down with a concussion, and was forced to miss the Bulldogs' narrow victory over Louisiana Tech.
He returned to spark the Fresno offense against Illinois, rushing 32 times for 173 yards and three scores, and breaking off 42- and 27 yarders, one for a touchdown. His explosive effort against Boise State, during which he scored on long runs of 69, 60, and 68 yards kept the Bulldogs in the game.
No defense could contain his burst, and he is second only to Gerhart in yards, with a better per carry average.
Don't let the Fresno brand fool you—Matthews would be a successful runner everywhere, and he'll likely prove that at the professional level after storming the college ranks for an All-American year.
Golden Tate is, hands down, the greatest Notre Dame player of the last decade.
He broke the Irish record for receptions (93) and receiving yards (1,496) and averaged 124 receiving yards in a game despite losing Michael Floyd to a broken collarbone and fighting constant double coverage.
Tate was downright impossible to cover and helped the Irish dominate the lesser outfits, even catching nine or more passes in the last four game skid while the ND defense went belly-up.
His punt return for a touchdown against Pitt nearly sparked the comeback win and showcased his versatility in every facet of scoring, and Weis even threw him in for the occasional running play.
But for me it comes down to that touchdown in triple coverage against Wazzu. The kid's got the hands.
He's departing to the pros, but there's still time to shower him with college accolades. If Heisman's were still given to wide receivers, Tate would have one hell of a paperweight on his hands.
Despite playing in an offense openly hostile to the pass—GT runs the ball 82% of the time—Demaryius Thomas has remained an optimist, taking advantage of defenses biting on the run by stretching the field deep.
Thomas's yards per reception (25.09) is just a hair shy of the nation's leader, NC State's Owen Spencer, who has 400 fewer receiving yards. As well, Thomas leads the ACC in receiving yards and is second in the conference in touchdowns with eight.
His crucial 70-yard touchdown reception against Clemson kept the Tigers at bay in the ACC Championship, and he's the only real passing threat, which tells you what he makes of double teams.
A few crucial drops against Georgia will keep him off the Biletnikoff short list, but he has otherwise dominated ACC defenses for two years running, and if he decides to stay for his senior year, it's likely the champion Yellow Jackets will be in a position to repeat.
Freddie Barnes finished the year four receptions shy of the NCAA record, with 138 total. He was third in the nation in reception yards, second in yards per game, and leads the country in touchdowns.
He was a first-team All-MAC selection as a senior after missing most of his junior season with an injury.
He helped Bowling Green wrap up their MAC schedule with four straight wins, including a win over Toledo in the final game to firm up the Falcons' bowl eligibility.
But the highlight was a 22-reception, 278 yard, three touchdown performance against Kent State to eke out a 36-35 victory despite losing 23-35 with four minutes left to play.
Not convinced? Highlight video, away!:
I know BYU's Dennis Pitta has more touchdowns, and I know this guy won't be blocking any NFL defensive ends any time soon, but Florida's Aaron Hernandez was one of the few consistent presences in an up-and-down year for the Florida Gators' offense.
He caught a pass in the driving rain to start up the attack against Troy, caught another crucial pass in the Arkansas game, and was Tebow's go-to man when the Alabama defensive line got pressure, catching eight passes for 83 yards in the SEC championship game.
And don't forget his crucial role as the inside pitch man on the Gator's triple option. CFBstats counts them as receptions, but Hernandez was as big a threat on the ground as through the air, combining for 739 yards and four touchdowns, and gashing teams with athleticism and uncanny speed.
The Gators lost, so it's alright to start liking them again, and fair to say we won't see a more innovative use of an already talented tight end anytime soon.
If you desire a reason for the Iowa Hawkeyes' success this year, look no further than the talent of their line play (turns out I'm a line junkie after all).
Bulaga was the anchor of an outstanding rushing line and was immovable in pass protection. Without him, the Hawkeyes managed to survive, but with him, they made sound running backs out of Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher all year.
Bulaga, a junior, is mulling the pros after being named the Big Ten's offensive lineman of the year and a consensus All-Big Ten selection.
If he leaves...well, Iowa is chock full of big, corn-fed white guys like him, isn't it? Plug them in!
Newhouse, a 2008 All-MWC second teamer, became a leader on the TCU offense after returning for his senior season.
The Horned Frogs had to replace both guards on the line, but Newhouse and fellow returnee Marcus Cannon provided stability and helped TCU to an offensive renaissance to match their consistent defensive prowess.
Newhouse's contributions aided TCU in allowing only ten sacks on the year.
Carter, also known as the unbalanced guy with the spiky hair, has to face a lot of one-on-one blocking assignments against defensive linemen.
In the upset win over Nebraska, that meant occasionally lining up against Ndamukong Suh, which should give you an idea of his talent.
Carter and the rest of the Red Raider line guided their carousel of quarterbacks to a winning season and a win over Oklahoma, and that's an All-American performance in my book.
Johnson was the senior leader on a line replacing two All-Americans, but the Tide didn't lose a step in helping Mark Ingram to a 1500 yard season and protecting Greg McElroy from the pass rush.
Take your pick of Pouncey brothers. I choose Maurkice, because the center is the second-most important position on the field after quarterback, and Maurkice has the tougher job.
The Gators' offensive line probably had a harder job this year than last, blasting for short yards on the dive play and protecting Tim Tebow on those ponderous dropbacks that, inevitably, turned to scrambles or interceptions.
But the Pouncey twins never flagged and will live on in UF lore as the anchor of the Gators' line for years to come, championship or no.
Hughes finished the year as the Mountain West Conference leader in sacks (11.5) and, more importantly, helped the Horned Frogs' defense maintain its statistical and conference dominance despite the departure of seven starters coming into the year.
Hughes kept his output up in close wins over Clemson and Air Force while the TCU offense was still searching for a rhythm, and got to pin his ears back for sack-happy performances against BYU, Utah, and New Mexico.
He might not have the size or stature for the next level, but in the college game, his gifts more than suffice.
If we could forget about wins and losses for a moment and just look at hustle and production, Graham is, hands down, the most fearsome edge rusher in the country.
After going six games without a sack, Graham fetched 9.5 in conference play, blocked two punts, one for a touchdown, and tallied 25 tackles for a loss including four apiece against Wisconsin and Ohio State, all while fighting through double teams and navigating through offenses scheming to run away from him.
Think Lamarr Woodley, but faster.
I don't think there can be any doubt as to who the best DT in the nation is. Suh has redefined the expectations of what a defensive tackle is capable of. He can drop back into coverage better than most OLBs, and has the speed and penetrating ability to disrupt opponent's backfield.
His statline is absurd: 19.5 TFLs, 12 sacks (with 4.5 of those coming against Texas, Nebraska's toughest opponent), 10 PBUs, a forced fumble and three blocked kicks.
You know he's going to win the Heisman, right?
The only man at or near the level of Suh is the one they call Mount Cody.
The Alabama star plugs up gaps and lanes and anchors a defense that finished the year leading the country in rush yards allowed.
He was singlehandedly responsible for winning the Tennessee game and fought consistently through double teams. He's even slimmed down a little bit, unfortuntely.
He will be a hilarious addition to the NFL, where I hope him and Shaun Rogers get to play on the same team and crush offensive rushing attacks.
Bowman was a great edge gusher and a solid team tackler for a Penn State defense that was sorely in need.
Bowman was second on the team in tackles, logged a pair of interceptions and 7 sacks to go with his whopping 17.5 TFLs.
Weatherspoon had a solid year at outside linebacker. He's got the athleticism to play well in space, and he finished the year leading the Tigers in solo tackles with 70, along with 14.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks.
He's also a great A-gap blitzer who can overwhelm centers and running backs in pass protection. He's got the size and strength to project well at the next level.
Pat Angerer, the anchor of Iowa's stellar defense, is ranked sixth in the country in total tackles with 135.
Angerer's distinction is how well he plays in pass coverage. Way back in September, Angerer's interception against Penn State's Daryll Clark set up an Adam Robinson touchdown that sealed the upset for the Hawkeyes in Happy Valley.
His anticipation allows him to easily line up over a slot receiver and keep step as good as any nickelback.
Iowa's going to have a hell of a job replacing him next year.
Maybe no one is singing his praises, but the freshman Luke Kuechly has 81 solo tackles and 142 tackles total on the year for the Eagles' blue collar rush defense.
Kuechly also posted 12.5 TFLs on the year. ACC teams won't find running on BC easy any time soon.
Franks was a shutdown corner for the Sooners, posting two interceptions and five PBUs, plus a forced fumble and a pick-six in the Kansas game. He had 32 solo tackles and returned kicks and punts for the Sooners throughout the year.
He was a first team All-Big 12 selection at cornerback as well.
Haden was an absolute pest for the year, blanketing receivers when he wasn't anticipating and cutting off passes well in advance.
His sub 4.4 40 speed meant you couldn't beat him deep, and there was no point in throwing it short—he was always right there.
His four interceptions led the Gators to the championship game. He'll likely be all over Marty Gilyard when it comes time to head to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.
With the exception of the Purdue game, Ohio State's secondary was an absolute bitch to throw against all year, and SS Kurt Coleman was the main reason.
Coleman was an outstanding reader of plays and a leader of the Buckeye defense, which helped the young team through the middle-year growing pains and into a stellar finish, beating Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan in consecutive weeks.
Coleman had two outstanding interceptions against Michigan to seal the Buckeyes sixth-straight in the rivalry, and was also crucial in run support.
Moore was a terror in the secondary all year for UCLA, leading the nation in interceptions and adding seven PBUs.
His early play picking Johnathon Crompton twice put the Vols on the Bruins hunting wall, and Moore continued his nose for the football by adding a pick of Jake Locker and two of Nick Foles in conference play.
That the Bruins are in the postseason is courtesy of him.
Not that the game came down to it, but you know if Alabama needed a field goal to beat the Gators, Tiffin would be clutch.
The all-time Alabama scoring leader was 29/33 on the year and clutch when Alabama still had red-zone woes.
The one thing Michigan could count on (besides double-teams of Brandon Graham) was that we would always win the field-position battle courtesy of Zoltan Mesko.
The Space Emperor averaged 44.5 yards per punt and, forgiving the bad read against Michigan State, will be missed when Michigan inevitably needs to punt a zillion times next year.
It's hard to find the right place to deploy Spiller on All-American lists (imagine how hard of a job Clemson's coaches had), but I like him at kick returner. He averaged 34 yards per return and took four back for touchdowns before teams figured out not to kick to him.
With Spiller waiting in the endzone, you either get magic, or you get it kicked to the up-men, which mathematically averages out to about the same thing.
QB: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
RB: Mark Ingram, Alabama
RB: John Clay, Wisconsin
WR: Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas
WR: Mardy GIlyard, Cincinnati
WR: Jordan Shipley, Texas
OT: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
OT: Trent Williams, Oklahoma
OG: Mike Iupati, Idaho
OG: Sergio Render, Virginia Tech
C: J.D. Walton, Baylor
DE: Cameron Heyward, Ohio State
DE: Sergio Kindle, Texas
DT: Arthur Jones, Syracuse
DT: Karl Klug, Iowa
OLB: Eric Norwood, South Carolina
OLB: Roddrick Muckelroy, Texas
MLB: Brandon Spikes, Florida
MLB: Rolando McClain, Alabama
CB: Kyle Wilson, Boise State
CB: Donovan Warren, Michigan
SS: Eric Berry, Tennessee
FS: Major Wright, Florida
K: Brett Swenson, Michigan State
P: Drew Butler, Georgia
KR: Chris Owusu, Stanford
PR: Javier Arenas, Alabama