The 5 biggest snubs of awards seasons involving SEC players so far
Awards season means it’s also snub season.
That’s right. It’s the time of year when hardware isn’t just handed out. It’s debated. And to be fair, it should be.
The short- and long-term impact of winning these awards is significant. It could impact where a player is drafted and it could impact how they get eyeballs on them heading into next year. Despite the politically correct way of players saying “I don’t get caught up in these because it’s all about the team,” it matters.
So because these things are important, I decided to look at what I felt were the 5 biggest snubs so far.
Remember, just because I say I don’t think Player X deserved the recognition that he got doesn’t mean I think he had a bad year. It just means I think Player Y had a better year. I do not hate your favorite player, and I do not hate your favorite team.
Here were the 5 things that made me scratch my head the most:
Second-team coaches All-SEC receiver
Winner — Bryan Edwards, South Carolina WR
Who got snubbed — Justin Jefferson, LSU WR
What if I told you that the guy who had 1,207 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns wouldn’t even get second-team All-SEC love. Would you believe me? The guy who ranks in the top 5 nationally in receptions and receiving touchdowns didn’t make the All-SEC team. I probably would’ve had him at first-team alongside LSU teammate and Biletnikoff winner JaMarr Chase.
With all due respect to Edwards, who had a fantastic career in Columbia, there’s no way he had a better year than Jefferson. I understand playing with a true freshman quarterback as opposed to the best player in college football is part of that, but still.
I mean, just compare them side-by-side:
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It’s not even a debate. I’m sure what happened was that coaches probably felt that their ballots were a bit LSU-heavy. Shoot, Chase was the obvious name to have on there. Some probably justified it by thinking “well, if he’s not even the best receiver on his own team, why not give it to someone else?”
Um, that shouldn’t happen. But clearly, something did. Dare I say there was “LSU fatigue” in filling out the awards ballot this year?
Lou Groza Award
Winner — Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia K
Who got snubbed — Keith Duncan, Iowa K
Georgia fans would even admit that as great of a career as Blankenship had, the rough games he had against South Carolina and in the SEC Championship certainly put a damper on his season. And that’s coming from me, who tweeted multiple times about #HotRod4Heisman.
This felt more like a lifetime achievement award for the 12 years that Blankenship has been in Athens. His numbers dipped a bit this year because of those aforementioned games. He was only 80.6% (No. 62 in FBS), and while he was relied on a lot, Duncan still made more kicks at a higher percentage than Blankenship. And if you just look at kicks of 40 yards or longer, Duncan had Blankenship beat 77.8% (14-for-18) to 68.8% (11-for-16).
That includes a kick that was more clutch than anything Blankenship made all year:
THE KICK IS GOOD!
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 29, 2019
Again, no disrespect to Blankenship. He’s been invaluable during Georgia’s rise under Kirby Smart. He’ll always be loved by Georgia fans and rightfully so.
But Duncan had the better year, and he should’ve been rewarded for it.
Second-team coaches All-SEC DL
Winner — Raekwon Davis, Alabama DL
Who got snubbed — Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M DL
I feel like for the last 2 years, there’s been this party where everyone meets up and talks about how great Davis is. I never attend, which perhaps explains why I’m still scratching my head at the accolades he gets. I know he was playing with a ton of youth around him, but his numbers dipped from a disappointing 2018 that he had playing alongside Quinnen Williams.
Sacks aren’t everything, but the guy had 0.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss this year. That’s for an Alabama run defense that was the worst its been since Nick Saban’s first year at Alabama. It was once again a disappointing season for the talented Davis.
- A) Had more sacks (5.5)
- B) More tackles for loss (11.5)
- C) More tackles (45)
- D) Played in a better run defense (No. 29)
- E) All the above
It’s “E.” It’s always “E.”
And to be clear, Madubuike was a better pass-rusher from an interior position than Davis was as a strong-side defensive end. Perhaps people got so used to penciling Davis into an All-SEC team after that breakout 2017 season that it just happened by accident, but Madubuike was the better overall player.
Jim Thorpe Award
Winner — Grant Delpit, LSU S
Who got snubbed — Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State CB
I said Delpit was the best defensive player in the country entering 2019. I’d take him on my team in a heartbeat. Few guys can blow up plays in the backfield, cover and lead a defense like Delpit. That’ll give him a ton of next-level value, no doubt.
But there’s simply no way that Delpit was the best defensive back in college football this year. He dealt with an ankle injury that limited him on the field and actually sidelined him against Arkansas. That was following a brutal performance against Ole Miss in which Delpit simply didn’t look like himself. He had issues missing tackles that could’ve been injury-related or they could’ve been just failed execution. Whatever the case, it happened.
Meanwhile, all Okudah did was become the best shutdown cornerback in college football for a top-3 defense that ranked No. 2 in FBS defending the pass. Okudah repeatedly shut down the opposing team’s best wideout. He only had 3 interceptions in part because teams stopped throwing at him. His ball skills were off the charts this year:
Jeffrey Okudah: Laid back dude. 🤙
The @OhioStateDB gets pick No. 2 of the evening from the turf: pic.twitter.com/cDQaCNl8qC
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 29, 2019
This felt like payback for not giving Delpit the award last year when in my opinion, he earned it more than Deandre Baker. It was surprising to see that Delpit even got invited considering I didn’t think he was the best defensive back on his own team (see “Stingley, Derek”).
Speaking of Stingley …
SEC Freshman of the Year
Winner — Bo Nix, Auburn QB
Who got snubbed — Derek Stingley, LSU CB
Do I even need to explain this one? Ok, I will. Nix is someone whom I’ve actually defended a lot this year. But goodness, the guy wasn’t even the best freshman quarterback in the SEC, much less the best freshman player. If this is just a quarterback award, John Rhys Plumlee should’ve won it. If this really is an award open to all, the coaches clearly should’ve voted for Stingley.
For starters, Stingley had 2 interceptions in the SEC Championship to improve his season-long total to 6. The guy limited quarterbacks to a 41.4% accuracy when targeted (via Pro Football Focus), and he had just as many interceptions as he had touchdowns allowed. Stingley was named a first-team All-American by PFF after forcing an incompletion on 21.4% of throws, which was the fifth-highest in the country.
It’s pretty clear. Stingley played his position at an elite level all year, with the exception of some rough moments against Alabama and Florida. Nix wasn’t even a top-half quarterback in the SEC this year.
This was a gross oversight by coaches, and one that was easily the most egregious of any this awards season.