Handicapping the Davey O'Brien Award: Mississippi State's Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott was not named a finalist for the 2014 Heisman Trophy, but he was included among the finalists for a number of other noteworthy awards, including the Maxwell Award for the nation’s best player and the Davey O’Brien Award, given annually to the nation’s best quarterback.
Prescott took over as Mississippi State’s undisputed starting quarterback in 2014 and led the Bulldogs to their first 10-win regular season since the early 1940s. He came just short of throwing for 3,000 yards and rushing for 1,000 yards, something only Johnny Manziel has ever done, and he set 10 school records along the way.
The redshirt junior will look to become the fourth SEC quarterback to win the O’Brien Award in the last eight years at this year’s Home Depot College Football Awards Show in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The other winners from the SEC in that span were Manziel in 2012, Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2010 and Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2007.
Prescott and Mississippi State lost two of their final three games, both to top 10 teams, to fall out of the College Football Playoff race at the end of the regular season. Nevertheless, Prescott still led the team to its first Orange Bowl bid since 1941.
MEET THE FINALISTS
DAK PRESCOTT, MISSISSIPPI STATE, JR. — At risk of sounding repetitive, Prescott just capped the greatest regular season run by a Mississippi State player in school history, and it’s not even close. His numbers trump those of any other quarterback to don the Maroon and White through the years, and he became MSU’s first All-SEC first-team quarterback since 1986 at season’s end. The Bulldogs signal caller experienced a drop-off in his numbers in the second half of the season, and he threw for fewer yards than the other two O’Brien finalists, but he also led all three finalists in rushing from the quarterback position and amassed 38 total touchdowns by scoring in three different ways this season.
MARCUS MARIOTA, OREGON, JR. — Mariota is the odds-on favorite to win this year’s Heisman, and he should feel pretty good about his chances to win the O’Brien Award as well after closing a stellar 2014 season with a blowout win over Arizona in the Pac 12 championship game. Mariota threw for more than 3,700 yards this season and scored more than 50 total touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions. He made plays with his arm and his legs, and rarely made mistakes as Oregon marched to a 12-1 record and a conference title. Mariota and the Ducks will now move on to the inaugural College Football Playoff, something neither of the other two O’Brien finalists can say about their teams.
TREVONE BOYKIN, TCU, JR. — Boykin engineered one of the most explosive offenses in the nation this season, as the Horned Frogs finished with the fourth-most total yards per game and the second-most points per game of any team in the land. He threw for more than 3,700 yards and came just shy of Mariota’s total, however he amassed that total in one fewer game due to the Big 12’s lack of a conference title game. Boykin also ran for more than 600 yards and posted 39 total touchdowns, exceeding Prescott’s total by one while also scoring in three different ways. TCU will play in this year’s Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve, thanks in large part to Boykin’s emergence behind center this season.