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Check out the 2012 All-American team

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Check out the 2012 All-American team

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Alabama is No. 1 when it comes to All-Americans.The second-ranked Crimson Tide placed four players on The Associated Press All-America team released Tuesday. Among them was center Barrett Jones, who became a two-time first-team selection.No other team had more than two players selected to the first team. The Tide also led with six players chosen to all three teams.Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Stanford and Florida were second with four players on the three teams, though linebacker Manti Te'o was the only Fighting Irish player to make the first team.Alabama faces top-ranked Notre Dame in the BCS championship game Jan. 7.Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was the first-team quarterback.Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones also became two-time All-Americans.Nine Southeastern Conference players made the first team, more than any other conference. The Pac-12 was second with six players on the first team. No other conference had more than two.The team was voted on by a panel of 16 AP college football poll voters.Barrett Jones, a senior who made the All-America team as a tackle last season, was joined on the first team by Alabama teammates guard Chance Warmack, linebacker C.J. Mosley and cornerback Dee Milliner. Offensive tackle D.J. Fluker was picked to the second team and quarterback AJ McCarron was selected to the third team.Te'o, the Heisman finalists and winner of seven other awards -- including the Maxwell, Nagurski and Butkus -- is the first Notre Dame defensive player to be an AP All-American since defensive back Shane Walton in 2002.Manziel is the first freshman to make the first team at quarterback. On Saturday, the redshirt freshman know as Johnny Football became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.Manziel set an SEC record with 4,600 total yards to rank second in the nation.Heisman finalist Collin Klein of Kansas State was the second-team quarterback.Ball repeated as an All-American, despite a slow start to the season and some early injuries. The senior is seventh in the nation in rushing at 133 yards per game, scored 21 touchdowns, and set the major college football record for career touchdowns. He has 82 going into the Rose Bowl.Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, the nation's leading rusher at 146 yards per game, was the other first-team running back.The receivers were Southern California's Marqise Lee, who leads the nation in catches (112) and was second in yards receiving (1,680), and Baylor's Terrance Williams, who leads in yards with 1,764.Stanford's Zach Ertz was the tight end.Joining Jones and Warmack on the offensive line were two junior tackles projected to be high first-round NFL draft picks: Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Michigan's Taylor Lewan."Team goals are bigger than individual goals, but one of my personal goals was to be an All-American and it's an unbelievable feeling to reach that goal," Lewan said Tuesday.North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper was the other first-team guard.West Virginia's Tavon Austin was selected as the all-purpose player, a perfect description of the do-it-all speedster.Austin was primarily a receiver and racked up 1,259 yards through the air. Late in the season, coach Dana Holgorsen used Austin as a running back and against Oklahoma he the senior set a school-record with 344 yards rushing. He finished second in the nation in all-purpose yards with 230 per game, and returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns.Tulane's Cairo Santos was the All-American kicker after making all 21 of his field goal attempts.On the defensive side, Te'o and Mosley were joined at linebacker by the other two-time All-American. Jones followed-up his sensational sophomore season with 12.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss.Another SEC pass rusher highlighted the defensive line.South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had 13.5 sacks, tied for the most in the nation, playing in only 11 games. He'll matchup against Lewan in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1."He's very explosive player who plays every play to the whistle and never takes a snap off," Lewan said. "It's a great opportunity to see where I'm at and where he's at and I'm excited about it. But it's not about me or him, it's about the University of Michigan playing South Carolina at the Outback Bowl."Florida State Bjoern Werner was the other end. He also had 13 sacks.At defensive tackle was a pair of Pac-12 players: Utah's Star Lotulelei and Arizona State's Will Sutton, who was the conference defensive player of the year.In the secondary, Jordan Poyer of Oregon State, who had seven interceptions, was the cornerback opposite Milliner.Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas was voted to the first team after leading the nation with eight interceptions, including three returned for touchdown. Florida's Matt Elam was the other safety.The punter was Ryan Allen, who won his second straight Ray Guy Award last week.

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot.