NEW YORK --- James Laurinaitis idolized A.J. Hawk, Chris Spielman and the other great linebackers who played for Ohio State before him.
Now, in at least one area, he has surpassed them.
Laurinaitis became the second college football player to be a three-time AP All-American, joining Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and star receiver Michael Crabtree on the first team released Tuesday.
Georgia sophomore running back Knowshon Moreno made the second team. No one from Clemson, South Carolina or Georgia Tech made the top three teams.
Ohio State has a history of great linebackers from Hawk to Spielman and Tom Cousineau to Randy Gradishar. Hawk and Spielman were both two-time AP All-Americans.
"When people throw my name in that group of players, I just laugh," Laurinaitis said. "It's extremely complimentary to be thought of in the same category."
The only other player to make the AP first-team three times was Pittsburgh offensive lineman Bill Fralic (1982-84), according to STATS LLC.
Alabama put more players on the 2008 AP first team than any school, about 1,000 pounds of linemen. Offensive tackle Andre Smith, listed at 330 pounds, was a unanimous first-team choice, and was joined by center Antoine Caldwell. Crimson Tide nose guard Terrence Cody, listed at 365 pounds, anchored the top-ranked defense in the Southeastern Conference.
Bradford beat out Texas' Colt McCoy and Florida's Tim Tebow in All-America voting that broke the same way as the Heisman balloting. McCoy, the Heisman runner-up, was the second-team quarterback. Tebow made the third team, a year after winning the Heisman and being a first-team AP All-American.
Laurinaitis and Crabtree, the Texas Tech receiver, were among five players to repeat as first-teamers.
Oklahoma guard Duke Robinson, Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber and Missouri receiver/kick returner Jeremy Maclin, who made it as an all-purpose player, were the others.