Kuechly named to AP All-America first team

Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly was named to the Associated Press All-America first team on Tuesday.

The AP honor means Kuechly is a consensus first-team All-American, having already been named to the first team by the Football Writers of America, the American Football Coaches Association and Walter Camp. The sophomore tackle-machine becomes the Eagles’ 10th consensus first-team All-American, and the first since Jamie Silva in 2007.

After starting him as a true freshman at outside linebacker in ’09 -- mostly in place of Mark Herzlich, who missed the season while undergoing treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma -- Eagles head coach Frank Spaziani moved Kuechly to middle linebacker prior to this season. While not entirely seamless (Spaziani did say Kuechly had some trouble playing in space early in the season), the transition went as smoothly as anyone on the Eagles coaching staff could’ve hoped.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Cincinnati, Ohio, native led the nation in tackles (171) and solo tackles (102) in 2010. He reached 200 tackles faster than any player in Eagles history (needing just 17 games) and became the only BC player ever to record more than 300 tackles in his first two seasons (needing 23 games to reach the mark).

And while the team as a whole endured its share of ups and downs -- winning its first two games, then losing five straight before winning five straight to qualify for a bowl for the 12th consecutive season; starting two freshman quarterbacks and relying heavily on freshmen and sophomores throughout the roster; dealing with season-ending injuries to defensive stalwarts Alex Albright and Wes Davis -- Kuechly was a rock for the Eagles’ defense. The Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2009, Kuechly has recorded 10 or more tackles in a nation-leading 21 straight games.

His nose for the football also led Kuechly to finish as the runner-up for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker, and as a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

As a consensus first-team All-American, Kuechly joins Luke Urban (1920), Gene Goodreault (1940), Mike Holovak (1942), Doug Flutie (1984), Tony Thurman (1984), Mike Ruth (1985), Pete Mitchell (1994), Mike Cloud (1998) and Silva (2007) as the only Eagles to have achieved the feat.

BC senior offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, who is projected to be a high choice in the 2011 NFL draft, was named to the AP All-American third team on Tuesday.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and contributes to ESPNBoston.com.