College football awards show: Predicting the winners
The hardware for Alabama’s Derrick Henry figures to start rolling in Thursday evening with the Home Depot 25th Anniversary College Football Awards Show.
The show, which will be televised live by ESPN from the College Hall of Fame in Atlanta starting at 7 p.m., will feature the presentation of nine National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) player awards, including the Maxwell Award that goes to the college Player of the Year.
Henry, the junior tailback who rushed for a school- and SEC-record 1,986 yards and 23 touchdowns to lead the Crimson Tide to its second consecutive SEC championship and into the College Football Playoff, figures to be among the favorites for the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award, which is annually awarded to the best running back.
He could add a Heisman Trophy to his collection by this weekend to join Mark Ingram (2009) as the only Alabama players ever honored with college football’s loftiest prize.
Here’s a look at the awards that will be given out at the Home Depot 25th Anniversary College Football Awards Show, the finalists for each one and our take on who will walk away with the hardware.
Chuck Bednarik Award
(Defensive Player of the Year)
Finalists: Tyler Matakevich (Temple), Carl Nissib (Penn State) and Reggie Ragland (Alabama).
Our take: It’s only fitting that this award should go to Ragland, the best player on the best defense. The senior middle linebacker is the heart and soul of a stingy Crimson Tide defense that leads the nation in rushing defense, ranks second in total defense and third in scoring defense. Ragland paced Alabama with 90 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He also broke up five passes and recorded four quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
Finalists: Corey Coleman (Baylor), Josh Doctson (TCU) and Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss).
Our take: Doctson missed the final two games after suffering a wrist injury against Oklahoma State on Nov. 7, but he still stands above the competition. A big-play receiver equally as dangerous after the catch, Doctson tallied 79 catches for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns to fuel the Horned Frog passing attack. His 132.7 receiving yards per game is tops in the nation.
Treadwell led the SEC with 1,082 receiving yards.
Lou Groza Award
Finalists: Daniel Carlson (Auburn), Jake Elliot (Memphis), Ka’imi Fairbairn (UCLA).
Our take: Fairbairn has been the epitome of consistency, hitting 20 of his 23 field goal tries (87 percent), including a 60-yarder against Cal. The senior connected on all of his 44 PATs and booted nearly 71 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
Ray Guy Award
Finalists: Michael Carrizosa (San Jose State), Tom Hackett (Utah), and Hayden Hunt (Colorado State).
Our take: Hackett is the reigning Ray Guy Award winner and will join Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen (2011-12) and Baylor’s Daniel Sepulveda (2004 and 2006) as the only two-time recipients of the award. Utah leads the nation in net punting (43.44) behind Hackett, whose 47.78-yard average ranks third in the nation. Hackett, who became the first Ray Guy Award winner in Pac-12 history last year, has a conference-best 17 punts of at least 50 yards.
(Player of the Year)
Finalists: RB Derrick Henry (Alabama), RB Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) and QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson).
Our take: Henry will get the nod after rushing for a school- and SEC-record 1,986 yards and 23 touchdowns on 339 carries. The junior tailback leads the nation in rushing yards and touchdowns and ranks second in rushing yards per game at 152.8. He has recorded four games of at least 200 yards rushing and has accounted for at least one touchdown in 18 consecutive games.
All three are Heisman Trophy finalists, as well.
Davey O’Brien Award
Finalists: Trevone Boykin (TCU), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Deshaun Watson (Clemson).
Our take: All three quarterbacks enjoyed exceptional seasons in leading their teams to success, but Watson had a little more magic every time he dropped back. The sophomore completed just under 70 percent (287 of 413) of his passes for 3,512 yards and 30 touchdowns with 11 interceptions to lead the Tigers to an unbeaten season and into the College Football Playoff.
Watson also ranked second on the team in rushing, tallying 887 yards and 11 more touchdowns on the ground, including one from 63 yards out.
He was the difference in the ACC Championship Game, throwing for 289 yards and 3 TDs and running for a season-high 131 yards and two more touchdowns.
(Best interior lineman)
Finalists: OT Spencer Drango (Baylor), OG Joshua Garnett (Stanford) and DT A’Shawn Robinson (Alabama).
Our take: Garnett, a first-team All Pac-12 selection at guard, was an anchor along a Cardinal offensive line that helped Stanford rank second in the conference in scoring offense and third in rushing offense.
Jim Thorpe Award
(Best defensive back)
Finalists: S Jeremy Cash (Duke), CB Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida) and CB Desmond King (Iowa).
Our take: Hargreaves entered his junior season with lots of hype and more than delivered to cement his case for being the nation’s premier defensive back. Blessed with great football instincts, excellent athleticism and tremendous reflexes, he again proved his worth as a lockdown corner and figures to be a Top 10 pick in this coming spring’s NFL Draft.
Hargreaves matched fellow cornerback Jabon Tabor with four interceptions as few opposing teams tried him. He added 152 return yards and paced a tenacious Florida defense that propelled the Gators back to the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2009.
Doak Walker Award
(Best running back)
Finalists: Derrick Henry (Alabama), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) and Leonard Fournette (LSU).
Our take: It was only a few weeks ago that Fournette appeared a lock for the Heisman Trophy, but Henry has stormed past him with big performances on the biggest stages. Henry averaged 178.7 rushing yards per game against ranked teams to go along with 12 touchdowns. An astounding 69 percent (1,235) of his yards this season came after contact.
Other awards set to be given out include the Home Depot Coach of the Year and the NCFAA Contributions to College Football Award that will be bestowed upon former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer.
Presenters for the awards will include former Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard, (1991) Danny Wuerffel (1996), Andre Ware (1989) and Eddie George (1995) and former Oklahoma quarterback and Congressman J.C. Watts.