Athlon Sports Releases All-Conference Selections

By Matthew Filipovits on May 23, 2018 at 4:41 pm
Sep 30, 2017; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins (3) runs with the ball after a catch as Indiana Hoosiers defensive back Rashard Fant (16) defends during the third quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

© Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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With the season just about 100 days away, Athlon Sports has released their preseason All-Conference selections. In total, nine Nittany Lions appear on the four teams, good for fifth most in the league.

  • First Team - Trace McSorley (QB)

It comes as a surprise to no one that McSorley is penciled in as the top quarterback in the conference. Athlon had previously listed the senior as the top gunslinger in the Big Ten while Sporting News went further, calling him the best quarterback in the country. He is looking to build upon a season where he threw for 3,570 yards and 28 touchdowns while completing 66.5% of his passes.

  • First Team - DeAndre Thompkins (PR)

DeAndre Thompkins took over punt return duties after John Reid was lost for the season with a knee injury, and he did not disappoint. The senior fielded 21 punts, taking one to the house in the first game of the season, while averaging over 14 yards per return.

  • Second Team - Juwan Johnson (WR)

With three of the top four pass catchers from last season off to the NFL, Juwan Johnson seems primed to introduce himself to the national audience. He was quietly second on the team in catches and yards a year ago. He also hauled in a touchdown in a very low pressure, non-stressful situation. 

  • Second Team - Ryan Bates (OL)

Fans found out just how important Ryan Bates was in 2017 after he was lost for the backend of the Ohio State game and most of November. A third-team selection last year, Bates has the ability to play just about anywhere along the offensive line, but he's expected to hold down one of the tackles. He's Penn State's best offensive linemen and I expect him to be a first-team selection come December.

  • Second Team - Shareef Miller (DE)

Shareef Miller is a dog. There's really no other way to describe him. Miller led the Lions in sacks, TFLs, and hurries in 2017 and was a third-team selection for his efforts. He's the leader of a stacked end room and should only get better in 2018.

  • Second Team - Amani Oruwariye (CB)

The notion that Penn State loses all four it's starting defensive backs this season isn't exactly true. Oruwariye took on an increased role in John Reid's absence and delivered in a way that nobody saw coming. He led the team with four interceptions and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection. 

  • Second Team - Blake Gillikin (P)

The Punter That Was Promised was stellar in his sophomore season. A team captain this year, Gillikin booted 52 balls an average of 43.2 yards, with half of them landing inside the 20.

  • Third Team - Miles Sanders (RB)

Replacing Saquon Barkley is a daunting task but Miles Sanders has the talent to do just that. Behind what will be the best line of the Franklin era and a third-year starter at quarterback, Sanders has all the right pieces around him to be successful. He had just 31 carries last season but made the most of his opportunities, rushing for an average of 6.2 yards per carry.

  • Fourth Team - Connor McGovern (OL)

McGovern is heading into his third year with the program as one of the most experienced players on Penn State's roster. The junior did a stellar job in his first season at center, after spending his true freshman year starting nine games at guard. 

The selections can be found in their entirety here.

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