T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, Amani Hooker Earn All-America Honors

By RossWB on December 10, 2018 at 11:00 pm
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© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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'Tis the season -- the season for college football All-America teams to be announced. And as you can probably guess because we're reporting on it (or because you read the headline), Iowa earned a little representation on those All-America teams. First up, the AP: 

T.J. Hockenson and Amani Hooker both earned second team All-America honors, while Noah Fant earned third team All-America consideration. Next up, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA): 

The FWAA named Hockenson to the All-America second team. 

So who beat out Hockenson for first team All-America honors on the AP and FWAA teams? Texas A&M tight end Jace Sternberger. Sternberger led all tight ends nationally in receiving yards (804) and touchdowns (10) and he posted a sizzling yards per catch average as well (17.1 ypc). Not too shabby. By comparison, Hockenson had 717 receiving yards and six touchdowns (plus a rushing touchdown) and averaged 15.6 yards per catch. Those numbers are also very good, of course. 

I've seen several Iowa fans and even some Iowa media types criticizing the decision to make Sternberger the first team choice over Hockenson, often citing the fact that Hockenson won the Mackey Award (awarded to the nation's best tight end) as the reason why he should be a first team All-American. Sternberger wasn't a finalist for that award (a decision I thought was strange when the finalists were announced). 

But that's a nonsensical argument. The voting bodies for the AP and FWAA All-America teams are quite different than the Mackey Award committee. It simply doesn't follow that All-America selectors should be beholden to individual awards voted on by entirely different organizations. And, as noted above, Sternberger's receiving numbers were actually better than Hockenson's also-very good receiving stats. You can certainly make an argument that Hockenson is more deserving based on other factors, such as his blocking, which was routinely lauded as excellent (Sternberger doesn't seem to have earned as much praise for his blocking efforts). But there's also a compelling argument for Sternberger, so it's hardly an injustice to see him listed on the first team and Hockenson listed on the second team. They both had excellent seasons; they're both very deserving of All-America honors. Don't let tribalism or lame arguments obscure that truth. 

Congratulations to Hockenson, Fant, and Hooker for the recognition they received from the AP and/or FWAA after strong seasons. The full AP All-America team is available here, while the full FWAA All-America team is available here

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