It's that bittersweet time of year again: Awards Night. It's nice to see these kids win awards, celebrate their accomplishments, and gear up for the big trophy Saturday night. But awards season also marks one of the most depressing things: the end of the college football season. Our Saturdays are now dreary and dull again. The pomp and pageantry quieted, the drama dialed down for a spell, and nothing left to get us through but bowl season. The full slate of award-winners will be announced on ESPN tonight, but here's who I think should win - at least for some of the trophies, anyway.
Biletnikoff Award (Wide Receiver) - Justin Blackmon
I don't really need to qualify this, do I?
Doak Walker (Running Back) - Montee Ball
If I'm just assessing these running backs on their 'running back-ness', it's hard to overlook Ball. He's an almost unstoppable force, has rushed for more yards than anyone else, and has a whopping 32 touchdowns. Even Richardson doesn't rate that high by simple RB numbers. Ball might not be as transcendent as the Tide back on the field, but he's done more than enough for the Walker.
Chuck Bednarik Trophy Defensive Player of the Year - Tyrann Mathieu
This kid has earned his nickname. He's a ball hawk, a hidden yardage wizard, and blitzes like a linebacker. He picks, sacks, and forces fumbles; he has a football homing device Ronnie Lott would envy and hits just as hard. Not to beat a dead meme, but he just don't care. That kind of playstyle is rare and needs to be honored when it appears. To me, he's the best overall player in the nation - Maxwell-style, not Heisman style - and the clear-cut Bednarik winner.
Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award - Andrew Luck
For pure quarterbacking, you're not getting better than Luck. He might not have the flash and flair we look for in a Heisman winner, but you can't deny his skills. He pretty much runs the offense, Peyton-style, on the field - something almost unheard of in college - and is a lock for the number one pick in the draft. He has the mechanics, the power, the accuracy, the leadership, the decision-making, the everything. Robert Griffin III might have been more outstanding overall, but if I'm choosing a QB to build a team around, I'm picking Luck. And, to me, anyway, that's the definition of this award.
Jim Thorpe Award (Defensive Back) - Too Tough To Call, but I Guess Morris Claiborne
David Amerson's absolutely disgusting. He has 11 picks; those are video game numbers, man. But Claiborne's just a beast. I think he's more athletic than Amerson and has probably faced bigger, tougher receivers. Speaking of beasts, I can't really discount Barron, either. He doesn't have the numbers, but he's got the hits. Fierce, disruptive, drive-killing hits. Gun to my heard, I go Claiborne...but it's close, with Amerson's gaudy stats edging out Barron's physicality.
Maxwell Award (Best All-Around Player) - Trent Richardson
I honestly would have voted Mathieu here, as well, but he wasn't a finalist. Instead, my nod goes to Richardson. I know it seems odd to go with him here when I didn't even give him his own position award, but I feel he did better 'all-around' things than either of the two QB's nominated. Skill is an integral part of college football, no doubt, but so is lore...and Richardson has ingrained himself in a program steeped in the stuff. His juke against Ole Miss and the monster game against Auburn are enough to qualify him...the 1500 yards and 20 touchdowns don't hurt, either. He might not have the same numbers other backs do, but nobody has done it the same way Richardson has. For that, he should get the Maxwell.
Kicker Awards - I don't really know...or care that much. I'm still upset that LSU's Wing didn't get a finalist nod.