The 2021 College Football All-Bowl Season Team

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2022

The 2021 College Football All-Bowl Season Team

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    Nakobe Dean and Derion Kendrick both made the cut.
    Nakobe Dean and Derion Kendrick both made the cut.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    College football fans treasure bowl season for a variety of reasons, and a prominent one is the vast group of memorable individual performances.

    In many cases, an All-American or top starter assembles a terrific gamesuch as Ohio State stars C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Thanks to the postseason shining a light on programs that normally don't receive much national attention, some unfamiliar names earn a moment in the headlines, too.

    Now that the Texas Bowl has concluded, everything but the national championship clash between Alabama and Georgia is complete. As a result, the 2021 B/R All-Bowl Team is finalized.

    While competition level and key moments are both considered, the main factor is total production.


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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    QB: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

    If you expand the scope to consider more details, Bailey Zappe would be the first-team choice. He set FBS records for single-season yards and touchdowns in Western Kentucky's win.

    Focus on the game itself, and C.J. Stroud is the clear selection.

    In a showdown with Pac-12 champion Utah, the redshirt freshman guided the Buckeyes to a thrilling 48-45 victory. Stroud made Rose Bowl history with 573 yardsnow the OSU mark to beatand six touchdowns. He missed the FBS bowl record by only three yards.

    Second Team: Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

Running Backs

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    Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

    RB: Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama

    Entering the Cotton Bowl, the Tide had a clear mindset: Make Cincinnati stop Brian Robinson Jr. That simply did not happen, as the senior powered his way to a career-best and bowl-high 204 yards in Alabama's victory to reach the national title.

    Second Team: Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma


    RB: Jordan Mims, Fresno State

    Jordan Mims stole the show in the New Mexico Bowl, rushing for 165 yards and two touchdowns in Fresno State's 31-24 win. He added five catches for 71 yards and a third score.

    Second Team: Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State

Wide Receivers and Tight End

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    WR: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

    NFL-bound receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson both opted out of the Rose Bowl, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba capitalized on the spotlight. He reeled in a Rose Bowl-record 15 catches for an FBS bowl-record 347 yards and scored three touchdowns. Truly a legendary performance for the Buckeyes' top wideout.

    Second Team: Jesse Matthews, San Diego State


    WR: Jerreth Sterns, Western Kentucky

    Zappe's longtime favorite targetfrom Houston Baptist to WKUwas Jerreth Sterns. The wideout ended on a high note, shredding Appalachian State for 13 receptions, 184 yards and three touchdowns in the Boca Raton Bowl. He ranks No. 1 nationally in all three major categories with 150 catches for 1,902 yards and 17 scores.

    Second Team: Cedric Tillman, Tennessee


    WR: Broc Thompson, Purdue

    Just as Ohio State played without Olave and Wilson, Purdue didn't have David Bell. Marshall transfer Broc Thompson responded with the game of his life. After not surpassing three catches or 30 yards in any other appearance this season, Thompson racked up seven receptions, 217 yards and two touchdowns in the Boilermakers' 48-45 win over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.

    Second Team: Ryan O'Keefe, UCF


    TE: Jaheim Bell, South Carolina

    Jaheim Bell spearheaded the Gamecocks' upset of North Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Bowl. In the first quarter, he caught touchdowns of 69 and 66 yards. Bell closed the 38-21 triumph with five catches for 159 yards and two scores, adding 21 rushing yards.

    Second Team: Aubry Payne, Georgia State

Offensive Line

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    Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

    Team OL: Arkansas

    This might be a surprising choice given Penn State's six tackles for loss in the opening half of the Outback Bowl. What happened after the break, though, is what demanded our attention.

    Arkansas just steamrolled the Nittany Lions.

    In the third quarter alone, the Razorbacks' first touchdown drive featured four runs of 10-plus yards and an eight-yard score. After a field goal on the next possession, Arkansas set up a 1-yard touchdown with runs of 34, 12 and 32 yards.

    While quarterback KJ Jefferson rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown, Raheim Sanders scampered for 79 and two scores. Dominique Johnson and Malik Hornsby added 77 and 67, respectively, as Arkansas totaled a season-best 353 rushing yards in the 24-10 win.

    Second Team: Wyoming

Defensive Linemen

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    DE/Edge: Nick Heninger, Utah State

    Nick Heninger capped a terrific season with a dominant L.A. Bowl performance. He collected seven tackles, amassing five for a loss and three sacks in Utah State's 24-13 triumph over Oregon State. Heninger ended the year at 21.5 TFLs and nine sacks.

    Second Team: Antonio Moultrie, UAB


    DT: Gervon Dexter, Florida

    Although the Gators lost to UCF 29-17 in the Gasparilla Bowl, Gervon Dexter wrapped up his second year in strong fashion. He totaled nine tacklesincluding eight solo stopswith one for a loss.

    Second Team: Jordan Davis, Georgia


    DT: Johan Tavai, San Diego State

    Jonah Tavai had a massive impact on the Frisco Bowl, helping San Diego State to a 38-24 win over Conference USA champion UTSA. Tavai recorded six tackles with two for a loss and one sack.

    Second Team: Jacob Slade, Michigan State


    DE/Edge: Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

    Add it to the list, right? Will Anderson Jr. notched two more sacks, bolstering his nation-leading totals of 33.5 for lossan official FBS recordand 17.5 sacks. Anderson provided six tackles as Alabama toppled Cincinnati in the CFP semifinal.

    Second Team: Smith Vilbert, Penn State


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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    LB: Terrel Bernard, Baylor

    Baylor's top tackler put on a show against Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. Terrel Bernard notched two sacks among 17 tackles, also breaking up a pass during the Bears' 21-7 victory. Bernard totaled 102 stops with 12.5 for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2021.

    Second Team: Cal Halladay, Michigan State


    LB: Nakobe Dean, Georgia

    He was everywhere. That's a common sentiment to hear after watching Nakobe Dean play, and it certainly applied opposite Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Dean provided seven tacklestwo in the backfield, one sackand a forced fumble to help Georgia set up a rematch with Alabama in the national championship.

    Second Team: Jaylan Alexander, Purdue


    LB: Jeremy Banks, Tennessee

    Jeremy Banks had a busy afternoon in the Music City Bowl. Despite the loss, he registered 20 tackles with 2.5 for loss and one sack. Additionally, the fourth-year junior broke up two passes.

    Second Team: Chad Muma, Wyoming

Defensive Backs

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    CB: Derion Kendrick, Georgia

    Michigan receiver Roman Wilson toasted Derion Kendrick for a 42-yard gain in the second quarter. Beyond that, though, the Clemson transfer only allowed a couple of short completions while snatching two interceptions. Kendrick also notched a tackle for loss in the 34-11 triumph.

    Second Team: Al Walcott, Baylor


    S: JT Woods, Baylor

    On the opening drive of the game, JT Woods picked off Ole Miss star Matt Corral. In the fourth quarter, Woods intercepted Luke Altmyerand that takeaway led to Baylor's game-sealing touchdown. Woods added four tackles and a pass breakup.

    Second Team: CJ Baskerville, San Diego State


    S: Antavious Lane, Georgia State

    Not only did Georgia State thrash Ball State 51-20 in the Camellia Bowl, Antavious Lane set a program record. The safety grabbed his fifth interception of the year, returning it 55 yards for a touchdown. Otherwise, he tallied 10 tackles with one for a loss.

    Second Team: Jacquez Warren, Miami (Ohio)


    CB: Jermari Harris, Iowa

    Kentucky clipped Iowa 20-17 in the Citrus Bowl, but Jermari Harris pestered UK quarterback Will Levis all game. Along with six tackles, Harris snared an interception and broke up two passes.

    Second Team: Mario Goodrich, Clemson


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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    K: Mitchell Fineran, Purdue

    Mitchel Fineran saved his best for last. In the second quarter of the Music City Bowl, he buried field goals of 24, 36 and 29 yards. Fineran then buried a game-winning 39-yarder in overtime. As a bonus, no other kicker hit four field goals during bowl season.

    Second Team: Zack Long, Tulsa


    P: Julian Diaz, Nevada

    Western Michigan trounced short-handed Nevada 52-24 in the Quick Lane Bowl. Unfortunately for Nevada, that meant seeing a lot of the punter. At least Julian Diaz thrived! While his shortest kick traveled 42 yards, Diaz averaged 49.2 yards on six punts. Nevada didn't allow a single punt-return yard, either.

    Second Team: Bernardo Rodriguez, North Texas


    KR: Sean Tyler, Western Michigan

    Nevada's kickoff unit didn't fare as well, though. After the Wolf Pack managed an early 3-0 lead, Sean Tyler returned the ensuing kick for a 100-yard touchdown. Western never trailed again.

    Second Team: LaMareon James, Old Dominion


    PR: Tarheeb Still, Maryland

    Maryland forced a three-and-out on Virginia Tech's opening drive, and Tarheeb Still returned the punt 92 yards for a touchdown. That moment served as an indication of what to expect in the Pinstripe Bowl as the Terps rolled VT in a 54-10 blowout.

    Second Team: Willie Johnson, Marshall