2014 College Football Awards: Who Won?

It’s award season, and the stars are coming out. Who’s going to win each key award? Who should win? What’s going to happen? 

Bednarik – Top Defensive Player

Finalists: DE Vic Beasley, Clemson; DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State; LB Scooby Wright, Arizona 
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: 1) Wright, 2) Beasley, 3) Bosa 
The Winner Is: Scooby Wright 

Louisville’s ball-hawking defensive back Gerod Holliman probably should’ve been a part of this, and it’s a coin-flip between Bosa and Beasley for the No. 2 spot, but this one’s easy – Wright is the best defensive player in the nation ranking second in tackles with 153, third in sacks with 14, and first in tackles for loss with 27. 

Biletnikoff – Top Receiver

Finalists: Amari Cooper, Alabama; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Kevin White, West Virginia
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: 1) Cooper, 2) Higgins, 3) White 
The Winner Is: Amari Cooper 

This actually isn’t quite as obvious as it might seem. We had to vote for these three as finalists, but Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett should’ve probably been in over White, and USC’s Nelson Agholor could’ve been considered. Higgins was phenomenal, averaging 18.4 yards per grab with 17 touchdowns in just 11 games – three more scores than anyone else, including Cooper. 115 catches and key plays from Cooper are hard to beat. 

Bronko Nagurski – Top Defensive Player

Finalists: DT Malcom Brown, Texas; DB Landon Collins, Alabama; DB Senquez Golson, Ole Miss; S Gerod Holliman, Louisville; LB Scooby Wright, Arizona
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: Scooby Wright 
The Winner Is: Wright was named the winner

This was a no-brainer, but Holliman had a special season and Brown was a dominant force as an interior pass rusher and the star of a good run defense. Golson and Collins were outstanding, but the other four candidates were far better candidates. 

Butkus – Top Linebacker

Finalists: Eric Kendricks, UCLA; Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington; Denezl Perryman, Miami; Jake Ryan, Michigan; Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame 
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: (voted for three) 1) Scooby Wright, Arizona; 2) Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington, 3) Eric Kendricks, UCLA 
The Winner Is: Eric Kendricks 

This was strange from the start with Scooby Wright not even ranking among the finalists, even though he was the best defensive player in America. I voted him No. 1 as a write-in – he ended up fifth on write-ins – and I’m stunned Kikaha didn’t get closer considering he was one of the dominant pass rushers this year. Kendricks is a terrific talent – on UCLA, though, I like the potential of Myles Jack better. 

Davey O’Brien – Top Quarterback

Finalists: Trevone Boykin, TCU; Marcus Mariota, Oregon; Dak Prescott, Mississippi State 
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: 1) Mariota, 2) Boykin, 3) J.T. Barrett, Ohio State 
The Winner Is: Marcus Mariota 

It’s almost as if Barrett’s injury against Michigan happened in the beginning of the year. The guy was a legitimate Heisman candidate finishing third in the nation in passing efficiency and growing into a phenomenal all-around leader and catalyst to a run to the playoff. There’s no arguing with Boykin from an MVP standpoint, but the obvious choice is Mariota, who blew away everyone in quarterback rating with 38 touchdowns and two picks. 

Doak Walker – Top Running Back

Finalists: Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska; Tevin Coleman, Indiana; Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: 1) Gordon, 2) Coleman, 3) Abdullah 
The Winner Is: Melvin Gordon 

I’m honored to be on the advisory board for the first few steps of the process. It was a big season for backs with 12 over 1,500 yards and seven with 20 touchdowns or more. This year, it’s an obvious choice with Gordon’s 2,336-yard, 26 touchdown season, but Coleman was unbelievable, ripping off 2,036 yards on a team with absolutely nothing else. Abdullah struggled down the stretch – Pitt’s James Conner probably deserved to be the No. 3 man with 1,675 yards and 24 scores. 

Heisman – Top Player

Finalists: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama; RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin; QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
The Projection Is: 1) Mariota, 2) Gordon, 3) Cooper 

I’m not allowed to release my vote, but the order is my best guess where the voters are going to go. Considering these are the three finalists, it’ll be shocking if there isn’t a landslide. It’ll be interesting to see how close it is between Gordon and Cooper, and it’ll be even more fascinating to see where players like Trevone Boykin and J.T. Barrett finish up. 

Jim Thorpe – Top Defensive Back

Finalists: Landon Collins, Alabama; Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon; Gerod Holliman, Louisville
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: 1) Holliman, 2) Ekpre-Olomu, 3) Collins 
The Winner Is: Gerod Holliman 

There’s no arguing with any one of the three, but Holliman is going to be the runaway winner. Ekrpe-Olomu only came up with two interceptions, but he was great in the open field and a terrific tackler. Collins was outstanding, especially against the run, but Senquez Golson of Ole Miss – with his nine picks – probably should’ve been the No. 2 guy. 

Mackey – Top Tight End

Finalists: Nick O’Leary, Florida State; Clive Walford, Miami; Maxx Williams, Minnesota
The Order Should Be: 1) Walford, 2) O’Leary, 3) Williams
The Winner Is: Nick O’Leary 

I don’t get to vote for the Mackey. This was a mediocre year for tight ends – especially considering Michigan’s Devin Funchess was considered a wide receiver – but Walford was a bit more consistent catching 44 passes for 676 yards and seven scores, making four grabs for 127 yards and a score against Florida State. He had two 100-yard games, O’Leary didn’t have any, and while he was a nice safety valve, and he’ll be a great pro, Walford was better. 

Lou Groza – Top Kicker

Finalists: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State; Brad Craddock, Maryland; Josh Lambert, West Virginia 
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: Brad Craddock 
The Winner Is: 1) Craddock, 2) Aguayo, 3) Lambert 

Craddock hit 18-of-19 field goals, Aguayo missed twice, but he’s still probably the most talented kicker in the country. Lambert was terrific, but he only hit 27-of-36 tries. Two of his tries were blocked, and he nailed a 55-yarder, but he there were also too many misses. Craddock nailed a 57-yard bomb against Ohio State, and his only miss was a 54-yarder in the collapse against Rutgers. Besides that, he hit 11-of-12 kicks beyond 40 yards. McCrane hit 16-of-17 field goals, stepping in for Jack Cantele, missing only a 22-yarder against West Virginia. 

Maxwell – Top Player

Finalists: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin; QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon; QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
The Order Should Be: 1) Mariota, 2) Gordon, 3) LB Scooby Wright, Arizona 
The Winner Is: Marcus Mariota 

Wright or TCU QB Trevone Boykin should’ve been in the third spot other than Prescott. Mariota is obvious. 

Outland – Top Interior Lineman

Finalists: DT Malcom Brown, Texas; C Reese Dismukes, Auburn; OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: 1) Brown, 2) Scherff, 3) Dismukes 
The Winner Is: Brandon Scherff 

Interesting, this is a relatively weak field. I’m not sold that Dismukes is the best center in America by a huge margin, but he’ll probably win. Brown was a fantastic interior presence for the Longhorn run D and was great at getting into the backfield. Scherff is a great pro prospect, but the Iowa run game was merely average. 

Ray Guy – Top Punter

Finalists: Tom Hackett, Utah; Austin Rehkow, Idaho; J.K. Scott, Alabama
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: 1) Hackett, 2) Scott, 3) Drew Riggleman, Arizona 
The Winner Is: Tom Hackett 

A slam-dunk, Hackett bombed away 77 times and put 25 of his kicks inside the 20. Rehkow only kicked 44 times, but he put 17 of his kicks inside the 20 and is certainly worthy, but Riggleman was better, putting 20 inside the 20 on 69 kicks and blasted 29 kicks of more than 50 yards. Scott put 26 of his 48 kicks inside the 20 and always seemed to flip the field for the Tide. 

Rimington – Top Center

Finalists: Jack Allen, Michigan State; David Andrews, Georgia; Reese Dismukes, Auburn; B.J. Finney, Kansas State; Andy Gallik, Boston College; Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: 1) Dismukes, 2) Gallic, 3) Grasu, 4) Andrews, 5) Allen, 6) Finney 
The Winner Is: Reese Dismukes 

There aren’t any wrong answers here. The Auburn line isn’t the killer it was last year, but it’s still solid and Dismukes is the star of the show. Gallik might not be as well-known as some of the others like Grasu or Finney, but he was a force this year for a run first, run only Boston College offense. 

Lombardi – Top Lineman

Finalists: DE Vic Beasley, Clemson; DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State; LB Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington; LB Scooby Wright, Arizona
The Order Should Be/Fiu’s Vote: 1) Wright, 2) Kikaha, 3) Bosa, 4) Beasley
The Winner Is: 1) Wright, 2) Bosa, 3) Beasley, 4) Kikaha, 

Texas DT Malcom Brown should be in this. Wright isn’t really a lineman, but he’s a top pass rusher. Kikaha tailed off over the second half of the season, and Bosa and Beasley were steady, but he was a force before mid-November. 

Walter Camp – Top Player

Finalists: QB Trevone Boykin, TCU; WR Amari Cooper, Alabama; RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin; QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon; LB Scooby Wright, Arizona
The Order Should Be: 1) Mariota, 2) Gordon, 3) Boykin, 4) Wright, 5) QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, 6) Boykin 
The Winner Is: Marcus Mariota 

Mariota should dominate here, even though the Heisman and Walter Camp are often split up. Barrett deserved consideration, but all the nominees are more than worthy.