The 1981 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1981. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recognizes four selectors as "official" for the 1981 season.[1] They are: (1) the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) based on the input of more than 2,000 voting members;[2] (2) the Associated Press (AP) selected based on the votes of sports writers at AP newspapers;[3] (3) the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected by the nation's football writers;[4] and (4) the United Press International (UPI) selected based on the votes of sports writers at UPI newspapers.[5] Other selectors included Football News (FN),[6] Gannett News Service (GNS),[7] the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA),[8] The Sporting News (TSN),[9] and the Walter Camp Football Foundation (WC).[10]

Nine players were unanimously selected as first-team All-Americans by all four official selectors.[1] They were:

  1. Marcus Allen, running back for USC, who won the 1981 Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award after becoming the first player to rush for more than 2,000 yards (2,427) in a season;
  2. Anthony Carter, wider receiver for Michigan, consensus first-team All-American in both 1981 and 1982 who caught 50 passes for 952 yards during the 1981 season;
  3. Sean Farrell, offensive guard who helped lead Penn State to a 10–2 record and a #3 ranking in the final AP Poll;
  4. Jim McMahon, quarterback for BYU and winner of the 1981 Davey O'Brien Award and Sammy Baugh Trophy;
  5. Dave Rimington, center for Nebraska, two-time winner of the Outland Trophy and the namesake of the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation's top collegiate center.
  6. Kenneth Sims, defensive tackle who helped lead Texas to a 10–1–1 record and #2 ranking in the final AP Poll, and who became the #1 pick in the 1982 NFL Draft;
  7. Billy Ray Smith, Jr., defensive end for Arkansas and who was a consensus first-team All-American in both 1981 and 1982;
  8. Herschel Walker, running back for Georgia, a three-time consensus first-team All-American who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1981 and won the award in 1982; and
  9. Tim Wrightman, tight end for UCLA who caught 28 passes for 308 yards in 1981.

Allen, Carter, McMahon, Rimington, Smith, and Walker have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The 1981 Michigan Wolverines football team led the nation with five of its players, all on offense, receiving first-team honors from one or more of the selectors. In addition to Anthony Carter, Michigan's honorees were offensive tackles Ed Muransky and Bubba Paris, offensive guard Kurt Becker, and running back Butch Woolfolk.

Consensus All-Americans

The following charts identify the NCAA-recognized consensus All-Americans for the year 1981 and displays which first-team designations they received.


Name Position School Number[11] Official Other
Marcus Allen Running back USC 4/5/9 AFCA, AP, FWAA, UPI FN, GNS, NEA, TSN, WC
Anthony Carter Wide receiver Michigan 4/5/9 AFCA, AP, FWAA, UPI FN, GNS, NEA, TSN, WC
Sean Farrell Offensive guard Penn State 4/5/9 AFCA, AP, FWAA, UPI FN, GNS, NEA, TSN, WC
Herschel Walker Running back Georgia 4/5/9 AFCA, AP, FWAA, UPI FN, GNS, NEA, TSN, WC
Dave Rimington Center Nebraska 4/3/7 AFCA, AP, FWAA, UPI FN, GNS, WC
Tim Wrightman Tight end UCLA 4/2/6 AFCA, AP, FWAA, UPI NEA, WC
Jim McMahon Quarterback BYU 4/2/6 AFCA, AP, FWAA, UPI FN, GNS
Roy Foster Offensive guard USC 3/2/5 AFCA, FWAA, UPI TSN, WC
Terry Tausch Offensive tackle Texas 2/3/5 AP, UPI FN, TSN, WC
Kurt Becker Offensive guard Michigan 2/3/5 AFCA, AP FN, GNS, NEA
Terry Crouch Offensive tackle Oklahoma 2/0/2 AFCA, FWAA
Ed Muransky Offensive tackle Michigan 2/0/2 AP, UPI


Name Position School Number[11] Official Other
Kenneth Sims Defensive tackle Texas 4/5/9 AFCA, AP, FWAA, UPI FN, GNS, NEA, TSN, WC
Billy Ray Smith Jr. Defensive end Arkansas 4/5/9 AFCA, AP, FWAA, UPI FN, GNS, NEA, TSN, WC
Bob Crable Linebacker Notre Dame 3/4/7 AFCA, AP, UPI FN, GNS, TSN, WC
Andre Tippett Defensive end Iowa 3/2/5 AP, FWAA, UPI FN, GNS
Tommy Wilcox Defensive back Alabama 3/2/5 AFCA, AP, UPI FN, WC
Jeff Davis Linebacker Clemson 3/1/4 AFCA, FWAA, UPI FN
Tim Krumrie Middle guard Wisconsin 2/2/4 AP, UPI FN, WC
Mike C. Richardson Defensive back Arizona State 2/2/4 AP, FWAA TSN, WC
Sal Sunseri Linebacker Pittsburgh 3/0/3 AFCA, AP, FWAA --
Terry Kinard Defensive back Clemson 2/1/3 AP, FWAA NEA
Fred Marion Defensive back Miami (FL) 2/1/3 AP, FWAA NEA

Special teams

Name Position School Number[11] Official Other
Reggie Roby Punter Iowa 2/2/4 AP, UPI FN, WC

Offensive selections


Tight ends





Running backs

Defensive selections

Defensive ends

Defensive tackles

Middle guards


Defensive backs

Special teams




Official selectors

Other selectors

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Football Award Winners" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 2016. pp. 3, 12. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Kodak All-America Team". The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY). November 24, 1981. p. D2 – via Open access icon
  3. ^ a b "Associated Press' All-America Team". Akron Beacon Journal. December 2, 1981. p. D5 – via Open access icon
  4. ^ a b Ted Gangi (ed.). "FWAA All-America Since 1944: The All-Time Team" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "UPI All-Americans". The Indianapolis Star. December 9, 1981. p. 66 – via Open access icon
  6. ^ a b "Tippett, Roby make Football News team". Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette. November 29, 1981. p. 3C. Retrieved June 11, 2024 – via Open access icon
  7. ^ a b "McMahon rates with the best". Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY). December 8, 1981. pp. 1D, 4D – via Open access icon
  8. ^ a b Murray Olderman (November 28, 1981). "NEA's 1981 All-America football team". Mattoon (IL) Journal Gazette. p. 14 – via Open access icon
  9. ^ a b "Football All Americans: Sporting News". The Pittsburgh Press. December 8, 1981. p. C4 – via Open access icon
  10. ^ a b c "All-America Teams". Arizona Republic. November 26, 1981. p. 9 – via Open access icon
  11. ^ a b c This column lists the number of selectors choosing the player as a first-team All-American as follows: official selectors/other selectors/total selectors.