The deadline for players declaring for the NFL draft is complete. The Portal is closed. Freshmen signing days are over. I have gone thru the roster of every All-Star game and noted all the players that are playing and marked them as gone. I am a little over two months into this year’s magazine which is a 6.5-month process. By the time I finish talking to the coaches post spring I will have every player move captured. The extra Covid year is still the wild card here but not as big a factor as it was the last couple of years. Every player with college eligibility is not necessarily going to return as some will just leave football. Each of my All-conference blogs highlights the players that are coming back, and the players not highlighted are gone. There is a slight chance that I missed on a player or two coming or going. If you look over this list and know that someone I have marked as returning is gone or vice versa, please either tweet at me @philsteele042 or mail Todd@philsteele.com. This is in preparation for the page 28 of the magazine which is the All-Conference points returning and lost. With that said here is the American List of my All Conference players from last year and which ones are returning and which ones are gone.
Today I will look at the American conference. Many group of five head coaches I talk to say that with the advent of the transfer portal and NIL that they develop players only to have them leave before their senior seasons as they get plucked by Power Five teams. Earlier the Sun Belt showed all 12 First Team Offensive players from 2023 have left their teams due to graduation or the portal. I will say that last year even after I talked to the coach’s post spring some Group of Five teams lost key players to the portal so you can probably expect a few more names to be lost before August rolls around.
The American Athletic Conference (AAC) has four of the 1st team Offensive players back with five of the 1st team all-defensive players back. Of the first three teams of the American 45 players are returning and 45 are lost so they are right at the MAC’s level returning 50% of the all conference players. CUSA is after those two leagues with 35 back and the SBC is last with just 29 players from the first three teams back.
While these numbers may change by the time the magazine goes to the press in June, six of last years AAC teams have a positive number this year with Navy at +17, Tulane at +9, Memphis at +5, USF at +3 and East Carolina at +1. The sixth team is SMU which dominates with +61 All conf points returning but they move on to the ACC. Interestingly East Carolina was -28 last year and Memphis was -48. There is a newcomer to the league this year in Army which is last in the all-conference points at -41 which is tied with UTSA. FAU did not have a great year in 2023 but is -36 points.
Here is this year’s list and the players that are highlighted in yellow are the players returning and if they are not highlighted then they are gone.
Last year the VIP deal worked out tremendously. All VIP members had access to the magazine two days after we sent it to the press, and they had EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to the digital magazine for two full weeks. The magazines were shipped priority mail to them as they rolled off the press and VIP members had the actual magazine in their hands about 3 weeks before it went on sale at Barnes and Noble. This year I have added a Super VIP in which you get two magazines, and I am giving away the full year of Phil Steele Plus access ($99 value) all for just $69 including shipping. Here is a link and we do send out the magazines on the FIFO method of First In (first ordered) First Out (first shipped). So right now if you order your magazine will be shipped on the first day but that window is closing fast. Also I may change my mind on giving away a full year of Phil Steele Plus with the Super VIP order but it is available at least thru February.