With most of the conference championships wrapped up and the bowl games approaching, NCAA football prepares to honor the athletes and coaches who made 2013 such a memorable year. Who are among the top honorees?
Heisman: Jameis Winston – QB – Florida State
This really isn’t a surprise anymore. After the fall of Alabama and the untimely miscues by Johnny Manziel, no player was playing better or winning more than freshman Jameis Winston. His Florida State Seminoles are favorites for the national championship while he has thrown for multiple touchdowns in all but one of his games this season, totaling 36 for the year. Statistical and schedule success often lead to the Heisman, and Winston has fulfilled both requirements.
Home Depot (Coach): Gus Malzahn – Auburn
There is no better story in college football than the story book run Auburn has made to the national championship game. After going 3-9 in 2012, the program did a shakeup and hired an offensive specialist named Gus Malzahn. He reformed the roster, which included installing an offense that has become one of the best in college football, and the team has lost just one game and keyed some incredible performances down the stretch. That includes a miracle Hail Mary win against Georgia, stunning #1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl and pulling away late against Missouri in the SEC championship to reach the BCS title game. All of that success goes back to the work of Malzahn.
Doak Walker (RB): Andre Williams – Boston College
For the longest time people really weren’t paying much attention to BostonCollege. They weren’t winning a lot of games and didn’t have much star power to track for the draft. That soon began to change when running back Andre Williams caught fire. From the end of October Williams never ran for less than 166 yards in a game, topped at least 260 yards three-straight times and has scored 10 touchdowns just in that stretch alone. He is the only back in college football over 2,000 yards rushing for the season. That is more than enough to earn the Doak Walker trophy.
Davy O’Brien (QB): Derek Carr – Fresno State
His Heisman campaign ended with the loss to San JoseState, but it didn’t stop Derek Carr from continuing to put up ridiculous numbers for FresnoState. The senior is now firmly a first round prospect for the upcoming draft and while Winston will likely garner this award as well, Carr deserves consideration. He now leads all of college football with 4,866 yards passing, over 400 yards more than the next closest competition. On top of that he has 48 touchdown passes, ten more than anybody else, with only seven interceptions. That is impressive work given how often he’s had to throw and defense knowing he going to.
Fred Biletnikoff (WR): Brandin Cooks – Oregon State
This is really a two man race at this point between Brandin Cooks of Oregon State and Davante Adams of FresnoState. Cooks leads the nation in receiving yards with 1,670 while Adams is second. Then Adams holds the lead with 23 touchdown catches while Cooks is tied for second. The reason Cooks edges out a win for the Biletnikoff award is he caught fewer passes than Adams and averaged slightly more yards per catch. Not to mention he played a far tougher schedule.
John Mackey (TE): Jace Amaro – Texas Tech
Eric Ebron was the favorite for the longest time to go first in the NFL draft, and he still might but his competition has proven himself far more in the college ranks. There isn’t another tight end even close to the statistical accomplishments Jace Amaro has put up for Texas Tech. He is the only one at his position that sits in the top 40 players with the most receiving yards with 1,240 and seven touchdowns. He is big, athletic and proving very reliable despite playing difficult opponents.
Chuck Bednarik (Defense): Trent Murphy – Stanford
For awhile it looked like scouts were pretty much set on what Trent Murphy could do as a defender. Then he tossed their reports out the windows. After getting just two sacks in his first four games, the Stanford defensive end and has piled up 12 in his last nine. On top of that he has an interception and five pass deflections, further proving his versatility on one of the best defenses in college football. Murphy will have a chance to further showcase his ability in the Rose Bowl while bolstering his draft stock, but his hold on the Chuck Bednarik award for best defender in NCAA football is all but secure.