Holland, Woolfolk, Brinson, Christiansen, Reynolds, Riley named to Phil Steele All-Independent first-team

Tis’ the season for my annual rant on Phil Steele’s all-Independent team.

Army, looking to put the finishing touches on its best season in 60 years, landed just six players – senior center Bryce Holland, senior fullback Darnell Woolfolk, senior linebacker Kenneth Brinson, junior linebacker Cole Christiansen, senior cornerback Mike Reynolds and junior cornerback Mike Reynolds – on Steele’s all-Independent first team. Brinson was listed as a defensive lineman.

There are six independent teams: No. 22 Army, No. 3 Notre Dame, Liberty, BYU, UMass and New Mexico State. Only Army (10-2) and Notre Dame (12-0) have winning records. BYU (6-6) plays in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (I always wanted to type that) Friday. Notre Dame had 11 first-teamers including four out of five specialists.

Senior linebacker James Nachtigal, who leads Army’s defense, ranked ninth nationally¬†in total yards, with 81 tackles and five sacks, is a second-team selection.

Junior quarterback Kelvin Hopkins was a second-team pick behind Notre Dame’s Ian Book. Can certainly make an argument that Hopkins was equally important to Army as Book was to Notre Dame’s success. Hopkins has rushed for a team-high 847 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hopkins’ 956 passing yards are the most by an Army quarterback since Trent Steelman’s 995 in 2010. Book has thrown for 2,468 yards and 19 touchdowns and added 250 yards and four touchdowns.

Army’s offensive line was named among the nation’s 15 best by the Joe Moore Award voters. The Black Knights were only deserving a one first-team offensive lineman from a unit, which has helped Army rank No. 2 nationally in rushing. Junior guard Jaxson Deaton and senior tackle Austin Schuffert were named to the second team.

Nachtigal was the lone second-team selection from Army’s defense. Junior safety Jaylon McClinton, senior safety James Gibson and senior nose tackle Ray Wright were left off the list. If statistics were taken into consideration, McClinton and Gibson’s tackle numbers are skewed due to Army’s offense dominating time of possession. Opponents have ran an average of 51 plays per game against Army.

Senior kicker John Abercrombie and Reynolds (punt returner) made the second team.

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