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Devon Still Got Screwed

The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) announced their 2011 All-American team on Monday, and there was one glaring omission: Penn State defensive tackle, Devon Still.

Still was considered by most analysts to be a shoe-in for the recognition, especially after he was named both Big Ten defensive player of the year and defensive lineman of the year. He’s also a finalist for nearly all of the national defensive awards, including the Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy, and Nagurski Trophy.

Let’s take an analytic approach to this situation. Look at the statistics of the players below and tell me which line impresses you the most:

  • Player A: 25 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss
  • Player B: 55 tackles, 4 sacks, 17 tackles for loss
  • Player C: 44 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss

It would be hard to argue that Player B, who has 11 more tackles and 4.5 more tackles for a loss than Player C, and more than doubled the most important statistics of Player A, isn’t the best player on that list.

Player B is Devon Still. Player C is Mevlin Ingram out of South Carolina and Player A is Jerel Worthy from Michigan State. Both Ingram and Worthy received All-American honors yesterday, while Still was left out in the cold. And Ingram is a defensive end, a position at which racking up big numbers is far more typical than for a defensive tackle.

If there is an argument to be made for Worthy’s legitimacy, who has 30 fewer tackles, 0.5 fewer sacks and 8.5 fewer tackles for a loss than Still, I’d like to hear it.

There are two Big Ten defensive linemen on the All-American team; Worthy and Whitney Mercilus from Illinois. The Big Ten chose Still as the best defensive player in the conference, yet he was passed over by the AFCA for two other conference linemen.

I know the game isn’t all about statistics, but I haven’t heard anyone claim that Still has character issues. Still is a captain on this team, doesn’t draw penalties, and by all accounts overcame adversity to be put in this position. He waited his turn behind great Penn State defensive ends like Jared Odrick and Aaron Maybin (both former All-Americans), and took it all in stride.

The AFCA claims on their website, “What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best — the coaches themselves.” Evidently, this so-called “specialness” is a fraud.

It would be naive to think that the Sandusky scandal didn’t have something to do with this egregious snub. I know the bowl selection committees and national media have their agenda set against Penn State, but the coaches too?

I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise to Penn State supporters anymore. Devon Still, who was in grade school when Jerry Sandusky coached here, is clearly being punished for other people’s actions.

This is the reality Penn State will have to deal with in the near future. Who knows when people will stop being cowards and quit punishing current players for the crimes of others?

Shame on you AFCA. Shame on you for succumbing to the anti-Penn State rhetoric and taking away a prestigious recognition from a young man who deserved it.

It’s a crime Devon Still wasn’t on this team. I hope he’s laughing all the way to the bank with his first round NFL contract in a couple months.

About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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