Nick Saban likes to tell all his four- and five-star recruits that if Alabama succeeds, all the individual accolades they crave will come with it.
Good call. Last season, no players from a team that did not make a bowl game made the AP All-America first team. There was one each from a non-bowl team on the second and third teams.
Of course, there are some excellent players on losing teams, such as New Mexico State running back Larry Rose III. The 185-pound junior was a third-team All-American and ran for 1,651 yards and 14 touchdowns for a team that won three games.
Here are some of the best players in college football playing for teams that did not reach the postseason last year. And it doesn’t look particularly promising for those teams to get there this season, either.
Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Did you know the Buffaloes had one of the better pass defenses in the Pac-12 last year? Yes, really. Awuzie switches between cornerback and nickel and became the first CU defensive back to lead the team in tackles for loss (13). The senior is a legitimate NFL prospect.
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
One of the best safeties in the country, Blanding ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 115 tackles last season. New coach Bronco Mendenhall plays the type of aggressive defense that could set up the 215-pound Blanding to spend a lot of time in opponents’ backfields. If Mendenhall had a few more like Blanding, this rebuild would go much faster.
Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
The latest in a recent string of excellent pass rushers for Missouri. The junior had 11.5 tackles for loss, including seven sacks, and 10 quarterback hurries. Harris led a solid defense last season, though Missouri’s offense was anemic. Could be more of the same this year.
Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming
The Mountain West’s leading rusher at 135.9 yards per game. The Cowboys are still looking for a turnaround under third-year coach Craig Bohl, who led North Dakota State to three straight FCS national titles before coming to Laramie. Wyoming will lean heavily on the 219-pound Hill to break a four-year bowl drought.
William Likely, CB, Maryland
The senior is a solid corner and one of the best return men in the nation. Likely averaged 17.7 yards per punt return last season and led the nation with 1,197 total return yards. He also played some offense late last season and new Maryland coach DJ Durkin has said he expects to use the senior in all three phases of the game.
Mike Warren, RB, Iowa State
Warren should be right at home in new coach Matt Campbell’s spread offense. Campbell’s Toledo teams ranked either first or second in the Mid-American Conference in rushing the last three seasons. Warren ran for 1,339 yards as a redshirt freshman last season, tops in the nation among freshman. The Cyclones will need a few upsets and some big performances by Warren to get bowl eligible.
Six more players set to star on teams that could struggle to make the postseason: Boom Williams, RB, Kentucky; Jake Replogle, DL, Purdue; Fish Smithson, S, Kansas; Matt Milano, LB, Boston College; Matt Davis, QB, SMU; Devonte Boyd, WR, UNLV.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP