Way-Too-Early college football All-America team for 2024

ByChris Low ESPN logo
Tuesday, January 23, 2024

With ESPN's Way-Too-Early Top 25 for the 2024 season unveiled following Michigan's 34-13 defeat of Washington in the national championship game earlier this month, it's time to move on to the Way-Too-Early All-America team.

Some of the names shouldn't come as a surprise, such as Ollie Gordon II, Luther Burden III, Travis Hunter and Malaki Starks. But with these early All-America teams, it's always refreshing to see some new names -- and a few players who have changed schools.

Selecting our early All-America team is always difficult, especially in the transfer portal era, but we talked to NFL scouts, college coaches and other media members to select the players projected to be the best at their respective positions in 2024. We'll have to wait to see if they go out and do it.

Ohio Stateleads the way with four first-team selections. Georgiaand Michiganeach have three.


It was just two years ago that Stetson Bennett was a Heisman Trophy finalist, something nobody would have foreseen at the start of the season. Now it's Beck's turn. He has the size (6-foot-4) and arm strength to carve apart defenses from the pocket and finished last season with the fourth-highest quarterback grade by Pro Football Focus. If Beck improves as much in 2024 as he did this past season, he'll be right in the middle of the Heisman conversation.

Second team: Dillon Gabriel, Oregon

The Doak Walker Award winner last season as college football's top running back, Gordon is no longer an unknown quantity. He went from having 308 rushing yards as a freshman to an FBS-leading 1,732 yards this past season and scored 22 touchdowns. The 6-1, 211-pound Gordon combines strength, power and acceleration. He led all players with 14 rushes of 30 yards or longer and tied for second with 1,056 yards after contact.

Second team: Omarion Hampton, North Carolina

Henderson's announcement that he would be back in 2024 was good news for Ohio State's offense, which will be headed up by new coordinator Bill O'Brien. Henderson shared carries last season but still managed 926 yards and 11 touchdowns. He'll again share carries next season with former Ole Miss star Quinshon Judkins, who is transferring in to give the Buckeyes what should be the best one-two punch in the country.

Second team: Quinshon Judkins, Ohio State

Had he been eligible to come out for the NFL draft this year, Burden would have been one of the top receivers selected. He's electric in the open field and ranked third nationally this past season with 725 yards after the catch. The 5-10, 208-pound Burden was second in the SEC with 86 receptions and has the whole package. He's a deep threat, can go up and get 50-50 balls and is always a step or two away from scoring a touchdown.

Second team: Tory Horton, Colorado State

McMillan was one of the nation's top breakout players in 2023 in an Arizona passing game that ranked eighth nationally (308.3 yards per game). Coach Jedd Fisch has moved on to Washington, but McMillan will be back with the Wildcats and will again be catching passes from Noah Fifita. The 6-5, 210-pound McMillan is a difficult matchup for anybody and generated great numbers as a true sophomore (90 catches, 1,402 yards and 10 touchdowns).

Second team: Tre Harris, Ole Miss

The 6-foot-5 Loveland bulked up to 245 pounds and emerged as a staple in the Wolverines' offense on their way to the national championship. He finished third on the team with 45 catches, averaging 14.4 yards per catch, and hauled in four touchdown receptions while earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. There will be several high-quality tight ends around the country in 2024, but Loveland's skills as both a receiver and blocker pushed him to the top of the list.

Second team: Brant Kuithe, Utah

Campbell is a rarity in college football in that he's been a starter at left tackle since the first game of his freshman season. He was a Freshman All-American in 2022 and went from giving up five sacks his first season to none as a sophomore in 491 pass-blocking situations, according to Pro Football Focus. The 6-5, 325-pound Campbell has the power and size to dominate his opponents.

Second team: Earnest Greene, Georgia

Ratledge passed up the NFL draft to return to Georgia for his senior season, and the Bulldogs should again have one of the best offensive lines in the country. The 6-6, 310-pound Ratledge has made 27 starts at right guard over the past two seasons and was a second-team AP All-American in 2023, when he didn't allow any sacks and let in just two QB hurries.

Second team: Tyler Booker, Alabama

Brailsford was one of the top run-blocking centers in college football last season at Washington, and he's following coach Kalen DeBoer to Alabama. He had the nation's fourth highest run-blocking grade by Pro Football Focus as part of a group that won the Joe Moore Award as the top offensive line in the nation. He started two games at right guard and 13 at center and will be key addition in the middle of the Crimson Tide O-line.

Second team: Cooper Mays, Tennessee

Jackson has started at left guard for the Buckeyes each of the past two seasons and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2023. He considered turning pro, but said there is "still more to do" at Ohio State, which should be loaded on the offensive line next season. The 6-4, 320-pound Jackson has allowed just two sacks in two years as a starter and is a mauler in the running game.

Second team: Dylan Fairchild, Georgia

Banks was a marquee recruit when he arrived on campus and has made good and then some on that billing. The 6-4, 324-pound rising junior has started every game for the Longhorns since his freshman season in 2022, when he was a Freshman All-American. He earned first-team All-Big 12 honors this past season as Texas' left tackle and should have a long career ahead of him in the NFL.

Second team: Ajani Cornelius, Oregon

The decision by Jeanty, one of the most dynamic and entertaining players in the country, to return for another season was a real coup for Boise State. He was a first-team All-America selection on ESPN's 2023 postseason squad and the only FBS player to rush for more than 1,300 yards (1,347) and have more than 500 receiving yards (569). Ashton had 58 plays of 10-plus yards, leading all returning FBS players.

Second team: Travis Hunter, Colorado


Pearce tied for the SEC sacks lead (10) last season with Dallas Turner and Nathaniel Watson and returns for his junior season as one of the top NFL draft prospects in the league. The 6-5, 242-pound Pearce has terrific burst off the edge and is a nightmare for any tackle to block. He was tied for fifth nationally last season with 38 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

Second team: Rueben Bain Jr., Miami

After a 2023 season that saw Williams tie for the team lead with 10 tackles for loss, his announcement that he was returning for his senior season was big news around the Ohio State football complex. The 6-2, 290-pound Williams would have been one of the top five or six interior defensive line prospects in this year's NFL draft had he come out, but now that he's back, the Buckeyes head into 2024 with one of the strongest defensive lines in the country.

Second team: Howard Cross III, Notre Dame

Graham was an integral piece of a Michigan defense that was the backbone of the Wolverines' national championship team. He returns as one of the top interior defensive linemen in college football after earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. The 6-3, 318-pound Graham played with a broken thumb through much of last season and was at his best in the postseason.

Second team: Deone Walker, Kentucky

Gillotte had the kind of season in 2023 that led many to believe he would jump to the NFL, but the Cardinals have their most impactful defender back in Year 2 under Jeff Brohm. Gillotte was the runner-up for ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors with 14.5 tackles for loss, including 11 sacks, and forced three fumbles. He was seventh nationally with 42 quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.

Second team: Landon Jackson, Arkansas

Perkins' numbers dipped some last season after LSU toyed with him in a different role, but the talent remains. And with new defensive coordinator Blake Baker taking over, he will see to it that Perkins reestablishes himself as the top blitzing linebacker in the country. In his first two seasons, Perkins racked up 16 sacks. His speed and agility are amazing, and he's the kind of impact defender opposing offenses have to account for on every play.

Second team: Jay Higgins, Iowa

Despite missing three games with an ankle injury last season, Lawson was one of Alabama's more productive defenders from his middle linebacker position. He was second on the team with 67 total tackles, including 5.5 for loss. The 6-2, 230-pounder finished with the fourth highest pass-rush grade among linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus.

Second team: Danny Stutsman, Oklahoma

Although he was overshadowed by Jeremiah Trotter Jr. last season, Carter decided to returnas the leader of Clemson's defense and one of college football's most versatile linebackers instead of entering the NFL draft . He has nine sacks and 12 pass breakups over the past two seasons and is equally effective on both running and passing downs.

Second team: Abdul Carter, Penn State

Colorado coach Deion Sanders called Hunter a "generational player" last year, and Sanders should know. A two-way player for the Buffaloes, Hunter played more snaps from scrimmage (566 on defense and 436 on offense) than anybody in college football. Despite missing three games with an injury, Hunter had three interceptions and has the skills to lock down any receiver in the country.

Second team: Benjamin Morrison, Notre Dame

In 2023, Johnson went from being one of the best freshmen in the country to one of the best cornerbacks in the country. He's poised to be even better next season after earning consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors. Johnson (6-2, 202) has great size for a cornerback and didn't give up any touchdowns in 321 coverage snaps. He was the defensive MVP in the national championship game.

Second team: Denzel Burke, Ohio State

Alabama's loss was Ohio State's gain. After a sensational freshman season in Tuscaloosa, Downs transferred to Ohio State last week and immediately steps into the Buckeyes' secondary as one of the most talented defenders in the country. A starter since Week 1 last season, Downs led Alabama with 107 total tackles and intercepted two passes. He's a sure tackler, has great instincts and covers like a cornerback.

Second team: Xavier Watts, Notre Dame

There are a lot of important pieces to Kirby Smart's defense at Georgia, and Starks has been one of the cornerstones each of the past two seasons. A starter since he was a freshman, Starks was a consensus first-team All-American last season. He was fourth on the Bulldogs with 52 total tackles and also had three interceptions.

Second team: Rod Moore, Michigan

Special teams

Last season, Nicholson became the first MAC player to win the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top place-kicker. He made 27 of his 28 field goal attempts, hitting 10 from 40-plus yards. Nicholson, a rising senior, is the ultimate security blanket for the RedHawks offense. He's made 60 field goals during his career.

Second team: Andres Borregales, Miami

Mastromanno is back for his fifth season after finishing as one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award as the top punter in the country. The Aussie averaged 45.5 yards per punt. Of his 67 punts, 37 were fair caught, ranking second among FBS punters in that category. He was third nationally with 30 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

Second team: James Burnip, Alabama

Branch returns for his sophomore season as one of the most talented players on USC's roster and has a chance to be one of the Trojans' best players in 2024. As a true freshman, he returned both a kickoff and punt for touchdowns. He had three punt returns of 60 yards or longer and should be a much bigger part of USC's passing game after catching 31 passes a year ago.

Second team: Barion Brown, Kentucky

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