Santos, Cuff, Lynch highlight I-AA All-American team

Updated: December 12, 2007, 2:58 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Ricky Santos capped one of the most prolific college careers a quarterback has ever had with an All-America season.

The New Hampshire quarterback, along with record-breaking running back Omar Cuff of Delaware, were selected to The Associated Press Football Championship Subdivision All-America team released Wednesday.

Santos, last season's Walter Payton Award winner as the best player in what was formerly known as Division I-AA, has led the Wildcats to the playoffs each season. He threw for 2,972 yards and 24 touchdowns this season and New Hampshire finished 7-5 after an FCS playoff loss to top-ranked Northern Iowa.

Santos' 123 career touchdown passes and 13,212 yards passing ranks third in FCS history behind Alcorn State's Steve McNair and Grambling State's Bruce Eugene.

Cuff, who will lead the Blue Hens into the national championship game against Appalachian State, set an FCS record for touchdowns this season with 38. He's also run for 1,861 yards.

"I'm totally unaware of all that," Cuff said of the records Wednesday in a phone interview from Chattanooga, Tenn., where the title game will be played Friday night.

Delaware recruited Cuff as a defensive back, but during his freshman season the Blue Hens shifted him to offense, where he wanted to play all along.

"They were low at running back on the scout team," he said. "I was able to take advantage of the opportunity."

With another big game against Appalachian State, Cuff can break a few more records. He is one touchdown short of Barry Sanders' Division I record of 39 and with four TDs he can break the all-division record of 41 held set by Mount Union's Dan Ough in 2002.

Cuff's teammate, kicker Jon Striefsky, was also a first-team All-American. Striefsky leads the nation's kickers with 124 points.

Appalachian State, which is trying for a record third straight national title and began the season by beating Michigan, was represented on the All-America team by offensive lineman Kerry Brown and safety Corey Lynch.

Lynch blocked a field goal on the game's final play to preserve the victory against the Wolverines and Brown is one of two players to repeat as an All-American. Portland State offensive lineman Brennan Carvalho was the other two-time All-American.

The rest of the first-team offensive linemen were Chad Rinehart of Northern Iowa, Mitch Erickson of South Dakota State and Demetrius Bell of Northwestern State.

Georgia Southern's Jayson Foster, a Payton Award finalist this season, joined Cuff and Santos in the backfield. The 5-foot-9, 164-pound Foster is second in the nation in touchdowns (24) and yards rushing per game (167.6).

The other Payton Award finalists were the second- and third-team quarterbacks. San Diego's Josh Johnson was picked to the second team and Northern Iowa's Eric Sanders made the third team.

The receivers were Terrell Hudgins of Elon, who leads the nation in yards receiving with 1,474, and Cal Poly's Ramses Barden, who has 1,467 yards and is averaging 26 yard per catch.

Blake Martin from Sam Houston State was the first-team tight end.

Hampton's Jeremy Gilchrist, who has returned three punts for touchdowns this season, was the all-purpose player.

Joining Lynch in the secondary was James Madison's Tony LeZotte, a second-team pick last season, along with Bobbie Williams from Bethune-Cookman and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from Tennessee State.

The linebackers were Bobby Daly from Montana State, Brian Bradford from Towson and Brannon Carter from Northern Iowa, who was Gateway Conference defensive player of the year.

The defensive line was comprised of four players who were honored with player of the year awards by their conferences.

Montana's Kroy Biermann, who has 15 sacks, won Big Sky honors for top defensive player. Brian Johnston of Gardner-Webb was the Big South's top defensive player. Eric Bakhtiari of San Diego, who leads the nation with 20 sacks, was the Pioneer League's defensive player of the year. Bryan Smith of McNeese State was the Southland Conference player of the year.

Texas State's Chris MacDonald was the All-American punter after leading the nation with a 46-yard average.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press