AUBURN, Ala. - Three Auburn football players have been named to the 2005 Associated Press Southeastern Conference First Team, while eight others were named to the second team or as honorable mention selections, it was announced Monday.
Senior offensive tackle Marcus McNeill, junior running back Kenny Irons and junior punter Kody Bliss all received first team honors, with McNeill and Irons being named as unanimous selections.
McNeill repeated as a first-team all-conference honoree after helping pave the way for the SEC's top-ranked offense. The Tigers lead the SEC in scoring (34.2 points per game) and total offense (425.6 yards per game) in addition to third-down conversions (47.9 percent) and sacks allowed (17).
McNeill, one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, has played 41 consecutive games, including 38 starts, without allowing a quarterback sack. He was named the Coaches' Offensive Player of the Week for his performance during Auburn's 48-7 victory over South Carolina Oct. 1, and was part of the offensive line unit that was named the Coaches' Offensive Player of the Week following a 34-17 victory at Arkansas Oct. 15.
In his first season on the Plains, Kenny Irons burst onto the scene by leading the SEC in rushing, averaging 109.5 yards per game. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in eight of his last nine contests, averaging 130.1 yards per game with 13 touchdowns during that stretch.
Irons, who ranks tied for ninth on Auburn's single-season rushing chart with 1,205 yards, posted a career-best 218 yards on the ground Oct. 22 at LSU, which is the 14th-best single-game total in Auburn history.
His eight 100-yard rushing games this season are tied for second best in a single season in Auburn history, while his current streak of six consecutive 100-yard games is second best and one short of Joe Cribbs' school-record of seven.
Bliss leads the SEC in punting, averaging 44.8 yards per punt. Ten of his 38 punts have travelled 50 or more yards, while he has placed 11 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line. He booted a career-best 63-yard punt Oct. 22 at LSU.
Six Tigers, including five on defense, were named to the AP All-SEC Second Team. Auburn's second-team selections include junior offensive guard Tim Duckworth, senior linebacker Travis Williams, senior nose guard T.J. Jackson, senior cornerback David Irons, junior defensive end Marquies Gunn and junior safety Will Herring.
Duckworth has been instrumental in Auburn's offensive success, grading out at 101 percent during Auburn's 31-30 win at Georgia Nov. 12 and 99 percent during a 34-17 victory at Arkansas Oct. 15. Duckworth had 22.5 pancake blocks through the team's first 10 games and was part of the offensive line unit that was named the Coaches' Offensive Player of the Week for the Arkansas game.
Williams' 62 tackles ranks second on Auburn this season, and he has added 2.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss and an interception. He had a team-high 11 tackles Oct. 1 against South Carolina, and matched that total during Auburn's Iron Bowl victory over Alabama, while also posting 1.5 sacks. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week following the South Carolina game.
Jackson has started all 11 games this season, posting 40 tackles including two quarterback sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. Jackson had five tackles and 1.5 sacks during Auburn's 28-18 victory over Alabama, and had a season-high six tackles, including 1.5 for losses, Oct. 1 vs. South Carolina. Jackson also recorded five tackles apiece Sept. 10 vs. Mississippi State, Oct. 15 at Arkansas and Oct. 22 at LSU.
David Irons has played in and started 10 games this season, and ranks tied for third in the SEC with 10 passes defended. Irons has accumulated 37 tackles including 27 solo stops, and has 2.5 tackles for loss. Irons led the Tigers with six tackles Nov. 12 at Georgia and added three pass break-ups.
Gunn has started all 11 games for Auburn this year, totaling 39 tackles. He leads the team and ranks seventh in the SEC with 12.5 tackles for loss, and also has 4.5 sacks and a team-high 15 quarterback hurries. Gunn was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week following his performance vs. Ole Miss Oct. 29, when he recorded six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss (-11), a sack (-4) and two quarterback hurries. He has made at least one tackle for loss in nine of Auburn's 11 games this season.
Herring, who has started a team-best 35 straight games during his career, leads Auburn with 64 tackles this season. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week following a 28-0 victory over Mississippi State Sept. 10, when he had five tackles including half a sack and recovered a fumble for a touchdown.
He was named the Coaches' Defensive Player of the Week after tying for the team lead with seven tackles at Arkansas, had a career-best 13 tackles in the season opener Sept. 3 vs. Georgia Tech and tallied nine stops Nov. 5 at Kentucky.
Auburn rounded out its selections with two players given Honorable Mention recognition: senior offensive tackle Troy Reddick and junior defensive end Stanley McClover. Reddick played in all 11 games, starting 10, pushing his career starts total to 39. Reddick, who also filled in occasionally at center, graded out at 99 percent in Auburn's victory at Georgia.
McClover came on strong late in the season, posting 15 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss (-52) and 6.5 sacks (-46) in the last three games alone. He was the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after collecting six tackles, including four for loss and 3.5 sacks, against Alabama. McClover finished the season tied for the team lead with 12.5 tackles for loss and ranks sixth in the SEC with seven sacks.
No. 7 Auburn will be making its sixth straight bowl appearance when the Tigers take on No. 21 Wisconsin at the 2006 Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla.