By Craig Haley, FCS Exec. Director - Archive - Email
NFL All-FCS Team
Victor Cruz, Jared Allen and Robert Mathis are three
former FCS standouts who will play in Sunday's Pro Bowl.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - They're honoring many of the best of the best in the NFL with a free trip to Paradise this week.

Oh, yes, while they're out in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Pro Bowl selections also will play in that silly little exhibition.

Included on the Pro Bowl rosters are some familiar names to FCS fans. Come Sunday, Victor Cruz might do a salsa dance or two, Jared Allen and Robert Mathis may take down a quarterback or two with sacks.

While players from FCS schools face an uphill climb getting into the NFL, let alone reaching NFL stardom, there are still plenty who make a big impact on the league. Three Baltimore Ravens - quarterback Joe Flacco (Delaware), center Matt Birk (Harvard) and cornerback Corey Graham (New Hampshire) - will start in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.

And as the Pro Bowl gets set to recognize many of this season's NFL greats, we decided to construct an NFL All-FCS Team, the best players from each position who played collegiately on the FCS level.

Players such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (Northern Colorado) and the Indianapolis Colts place-kicker Adam Vinatieri (South Dakota State) aren't in the mix because their programs weren't yet on the FCS level during their careers.

Our selections were made only from the NFL regular season. Some positions had easy choices, others were deep in talent and required extra analysis.

The team, of course, starts at quarterback, and the FCS boasts the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois) in addition to Flacco (Delaware).

Flacco may have taken his team to the Super Bowl, but Romo had the better regular season. The 2002 Walter Payton Award winner threw for 4,903 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Flacco has to share his center, though, because the veteran Birk, in his 15th season out of Harvard, anchors the offensive line.

This isn't a running team, that's for certain, but it sure can beat other teams down the field with the pass. We've gone with three wide receivers because they're each so good - the Giants' Cruz (Massachusetts), the Cowboys' Miles Austin (Monmouth) and the New Orleans Saints' Marques Colston (Hofstra), who combined on 235 receptions and 26 touchdowns.

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Clay Harbor (Missouri State) keeps getting better and Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert (Coastal Carolina) also is a receiving threat with 27 catches out of the backfield this season.

Defensively, cornerback is the team's deepest position, and we've settled on a standout veteran, the St. Louis Rams' Cortland Finnegan, and a surprising second-year player, the Cleveland Browns' Buster Skrine (Chattanooga). The Philadelphia Eagles' Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State) could be our nickel back if we need one.

Keeping with the theme in the secondary, safety is another deep position, with the Colts' Antoine Bethea (Howard) not even making the cut despite having 100 tackles this season. We went with the Denver Broncos' Mike Adams (Delaware) and the New York Jets' Yeremiah Bell (Eastern Kentucky).

The defense is led by Allen, the 2003 Buck Buchanan Award recipient out of Idaho State. He's joined at the Pro Bowl by the Colts' Mathis (Alabama A&M), another sack specialist.

Speaking of specialists, San Diego punter Mike Scifres (Western Illinois) finished third in the NFL with a 48.3-yard average on 81 punts.

The NFL has a large group of head coaches who played at current FCS schools, although they weren't all in the FCS at the time. We'll let the Saints' Sean Payton return to the league as the coach of this team.

Line 'em up.

NFL Head Coaches
NFL head coaches who are alums of current FCS programs:

Gus Bradley, North Dakota State (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Leslie Frazier, Alcorn State (Minnesota Vikings)
Jason Garrett, Princeton (Dallas Cowboys)
Chip Kelly, New Hampshire (Philadelphia Eagles)
Marvin Lewis, Idaho State (Cincinnati Bengals)
Sean Payton, Eastern Illinois (New Orleans Saints)
Greg Schiano, Bucknell (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Jim Schwartz, Georgetown (Detroit Lions)
Mike Shanahan, Eastern Illinois (Washington Redskins)
Mike Tomlin, William & Mary (Pittsburgh Steelers)

The Sports Network 2012 All-FCS NFL Team

Includes Regular-Season Statistics


Quarterback - Tony Romo, Dallas (Eastern Illinois) - 425-of-648, 4,903 yards, 28 TD, 19 INT

Running Back - Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville (Liberty) - 101 carries, 283 yards, 2 TD; 19 receptions, 130 yards

Running Back - Montell Owens, Jacksonville (Maine) - 42 carries, 209 yards, 1 TD; 8 receptions, 113 yards

Fullback - Mike Tolbert, Carolina (Coastal Carolina), 54 carries, 183 yards, 7 TD; 27 receptions, 268 yards

Wide Receiver - Miles Austin, Dallas (Monmouth) - 66 receptions, 943 yards, 6 TD

Wide Receiver - Marques Colston, New Orleans (Hofstra) - 83 receptions, 1,154 yards, 10 TD

Wide Receiver - Victor Cruz, New York Giants (Massachusetts) - 86 receptions, 1,092 yards, 10 TD

Tight End - Clay Harbor, Philadelphia (Missouri State) - 25 receptions, 186 yards, 2 TD

Tackle - Austin Howard, New York Jets (Northern Iowa)

Tackle - Michael Roos, Tennessee (Eastern Washington)

Center - Matt Birk, Baltimore (Harvard)

Guard - Kevin Boothe, New York Giants (Cornell)

Guard - Dan Connolly, New England (Southeast Missouri State)


Defensive End - Jared Allen, Minnesota (Idaho State) - 45 tackles, 12 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 3 passes defended

Defensive End - Kroy Biermann, Atlanta (Montana) - 52 tackles, 4 sacks

Defensive Tackle - Desmond Bryant, Oakland (Harvard - 36 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defended

Defensive Tackle - Kenrick Ellis, New York Jets (Hampton) - 18 tackles

Linebacker - Justin Durant, Detroit (Hampton) - 103 tackles, 3 passes defended

Linebacker - Robert Mathis, Indianapolis (Alabama A&M) - 33 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 interception

Linebacker - Paris Lenon, Arizona (Richmond) - 102 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovered, 1 interception, 3 passes defended

Cornerback - Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis (Samford), 101 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown return, 8 passes defended

Cornerback - Buster Skrine, Cleveland (Chattanooga) - 85 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 11 passes defended

Safety - Mike Adams, Denver (Delaware) - 80 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 11 passes defended

Safety - Yeremiah Bell, New York Jets (Eastern Kentucky) - 89 tackles, 1 sack, 3 fumble recovery, 2 passes defended

Special Teams

Place-kicker - Rob Bironas, Tennessee (Georgia Southern), 25-of-31 FG attempts, 53-yard long; 110 points

Punter - Mike Scifres, San Diego (Western Illinois) - 81 punts, 48.3 yards per punt, 66-yard long, 30 inside 20-yard line

Return - Travaris Cadet, New Orleans (Appalachian State) - 26 kickoff returns, 26.5 yards per return

Long Snapper - Zak DeOssie, New York Giants (Brown)


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