Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - They're honoring many of the best of the
best in the NFL with a free trip to Paradise this week.
Oh, yes, while they're out in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Pro Bowl selections also
will play in that silly little exhibition.
Included on the Pro Bowl rosters are some familiar names to FCS fans. Come
Sunday, Victor Cruz might do a salsa dance or two, Jared Allen and Robert
Mathis may take down a quarterback or two with sacks.
While players from FCS schools face an uphill climb getting into the NFL, let
alone reaching NFL stardom, there are still plenty who make a big impact on the
league. Three Baltimore Ravens - quarterback Joe Flacco (Delaware), center
Matt Birk (Harvard) and cornerback Corey Graham (New Hampshire) - will start in
Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.
And as the Pro Bowl gets set to recognize many of this season's NFL greats, we
decided to construct an NFL All-FCS Team, the best players from each
position who played collegiately on the FCS level.
Players such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (Northern
Colorado) and the Indianapolis Colts place-kicker Adam Vinatieri (South Dakota
State) aren't in the mix because their programs weren't yet on the FCS level
during their careers.
Our selections were made only from the NFL regular season. Some positions had
easy choices, others were deep in talent and required extra analysis.
The team, of course, starts at quarterback, and the FCS boasts the Dallas
Cowboys' Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois) in addition to Flacco (Delaware).
Flacco may have taken his team to the Super Bowl, but Romo had the better
regular season. The 2002 Walter Payton Award winner threw for 4,903 yards and
Flacco has to share his center, though, because the veteran Birk, in his 15th
season out of Harvard, anchors the offensive line.
This isn't a running team, that's for certain, but it sure can beat other
teams down the field with the pass. We've gone with three wide receivers
because they're each so good - the Giants' Cruz (Massachusetts), the Cowboys'
Miles Austin (Monmouth) and the New Orleans Saints' Marques Colston (Hofstra),
who combined on 235 receptions and 26 touchdowns.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Clay Harbor (Missouri State) keeps getting
better and Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert (Coastal Carolina) also is
a receiving threat with 27 catches out of the backfield this season.
Defensively, cornerback is the team's deepest position, and we've settled on a
standout veteran, the St. Louis Rams' Cortland Finnegan, and a surprising
rookie, the Cleveland Browns' Buster Skrine (Chattanooga). The Philadelphia
Eagles' Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State) could be our nickel
back if we need one.
Keeping with the theme in the secondary, safety is another deep position, with
the Colts' Antoine Bethea (Howard) not even making the cut despite having 100
tackles this season. We went with the Denver Broncos' Mike Adams (Delaware)
and the New York Jets' Yeremiah Bell (Eastern Kentucky).
The defense is led by Allen, the 2003 Buck Buchanan Award recipient out of
Idaho State. He's joined at the Pro Bowl by the Colts' Mathis (Alabama A&M),
another sack specialist.
Speaking of specialists, San Diego punter Mike Scifres (Western Illinois)
finished third in the NFL with a 48.3-yard average on 81 punts.
The NFL has a large group of head coaches who played at current FCS schools,
although they weren't all in the FCS at the time. We'll let the Saints' Sean
Payton return to the league as the coach of this team.
Line 'em up.
The Sports Network 2012 All-FCS NFL Team
Includes Regular-Season Statistics
Quarterback - Tony Romo, Dallas (Eastern Illinois) - 425-of-648, 4,903 yards,
28 TD, 19 INT
Running Back - Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville (Liberty) - 101 carries, 283
yards, 2 TD; 19 receptions, 130 yards
Running Back - Montell Owens, Jacksonville (Maine) - 42 carries, 209 yards, 1
TD; 8 receptions, 113 yards
Fullback - Mike Tolbert, Carolina (Coastal Carolina), 54 carries, 183 yards, 7
TD; 27 receptions, 268 yards
Wide Receiver - Miles Austin, Dallas (Monmouth) - 66 receptions, 943 yards, 6
Wide Receiver - Marques Colston, New Orleans (Hofstra) - 83 receptions, 1,154
yards, 10 TD
Wide Receiver - Victor Cruz, New York Giants (Massachusetts) - 86 receptions,
1,092 yards, 10 TD
Tight End - Clay Harbor, Philadelphia (Missouri State) - 25 receptions, 186
yards, 2 TD
Tackle - Austin Howard, New York Jets (Northern Iowa)
Tackle - Michael Roos, Tennessee (Eastern Washington)
Center - Matt Birk, Baltimore (Harvard)
Guard - Kevin Boothe, New York Giants (Cornell)
Guard - Dan Connolly, New England (Southeast Missouri State)
Defensive End - Jared Allen, Minnesota (Idaho State) - 45 tackles, 12 sacks, 1
forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 3 passes defended
Defensive End - Kroy Biermann, Atlanta (Montana) - 52 tackles, 4 sacks
Defensive Tackle - Desmond Bryant, Oakland (Harvard - 36 tackles, 3 sacks, 1
forced fumble, 1 pass defended
Defensive Tackle - Kenrick Ellis, New York Jets (Hampton) - 18 tackles
Linebacker - Justin Durant, Detroit (Hampton) - 103 tackles, 3 passes defended
Linebacker - Robert Mathis, Indianapolis (Alabama A&M) - 33 tackles, 8 sacks, 1
Linebacker - Paris Lenon, Arizona (Richmond) - 102 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced
fumble, 1 fumble recovered, 1 interception, 3 passes defended
Cornerback - Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis (Samford), 101 tackles, 1 sack, 1
forced fumble, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown return, 8 passes defended
Cornerback - Buster Skrine, Cleveland (Chattanooga) - 85 tackles, 1 fumble
recovery, 11 passes defended
Safety - Mike Adams, Denver (Delaware) - 80 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles,
11 passes defended
Safety - Yeremiah Bell, New York Jets (Eastern Kentucky) - 89 tackles, 1 sack,
3 fumble recovery, 2 passes defended
Place-kicker - Rob Bironas, Tennessee (Georgia Southern), 25-of-31 FG attempts,
53-yard long; 110 points
Punter - Mike Scifres, San Diego (Western Illinois) - 81 punts, 48.3 yards per
punt, 66-yard long, 30 inside 20-yard line
Return - Travaris Cadet, New Orleans (Appalachian State) - 26 kickoff returns,
26.5 yards per return
Long Snapper - Zak DeOssie, New York Giants (Brown)
The Sports Network