Top awards could fea­ture re­peats

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Steve Megargee

The race for the top in­di­vid­ual awards in col­lege foot­ball this sea­son will have some stand­out play­ers seek­ing re­peats.

Wis­con­sin’s Jonathan Tay­lor won the Doak Walker Award as the na­tion’s top run­ning back last sea­son, while Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy earned the Fred Bilet­nikoff Award as the most out­stand­ing re­ceiver. Both play­ers are back for their junior sea­sons.

Tay­lor dis­cussed his award can­di­dacy by talk­ing about the ad­vice he’s re­ceived from former Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner Baker May­field and former Doak Walker Award win­ner Bryce Love.

“The thing that they men­tioned to me about the award was they’re just go­ing out there to try to win games,” Tay­lor said. “Now I feel I’m tak­ing that into con­sid­er­a­tion. As long as I’m go­ing out there and try­ing to win games, every­thing will fall into place.”

Tay­lor is try­ing to be­come the first player to win the Doak Walker in back-to-back sea­sons since Arkansas’ Dar­ren McFad­den in 2006-07. The only other player to win this award in con­sec­u­tive years was Texas’ Ricky Wil­liams in 1997-98.

The only player to win the Bilet­nikoff Award in back-to-back sea­sons was Ok­la­homa State’s Justin Blackmon in 2010-11.

Syra­cuse’s An­dre Szmyt and Texas A&M’s Braden Mann also are look­ing to win an­nual po­si­tion awards in back-to-back sea­sons. Szmyt won the Lou Groza Award as col­lege foot­ball’s top kicker and Mann won the Ray Guy Award as the game’s best punter last year.

Some of the top pre­sea­son can­di­dates for var­i­ous col­lege foot­ball awards:

HEIS­MAN TRO­PHY (top over­all player)

Lawrence’s dom­i­nant per­for­mance in last year’s Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off es­tab­lishes the sopho­more quar­ter­back as a Heis­man front-run­ner.

The junior quar­ter­back was the Heis­man fa­vorite for most of last sea­son but ul­ti­mately fin­ished se­cond to Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back Kyler Mur­ray.

Tay­lor has rushed for 4,171 yards over the last two sea­sons and was the na­tion’s top rusher a year ago. His Heis­man hopes could de­pend on whether Wis­con­sin im­proves upon last year’s 8-5 fin­ish.

DAVEY O’BRIEN (top quar­ter­back)

Fromm ranked fifth na­tion­ally in pass­ing ef­fi­ciency last year and has fin­ished in the top 10 in that cat­e­gory each of the last two sea­sons. He threw 30 touch­down passes with only four in­ter­cep­tions as a fresh­man last sea­son and wasn’t picked off in his last 169 at­tempts. Tago­v­ailoa was a fi­nal­ist for this award last year while throw­ing for 3,966 yards and 43 touch­downs with only six in­ter­cep­tions.

DOAK WALKER (top run­ning back)

Ben­jamin rushed for 1,642 yards on 300 car­ries last sea­son to earn Associated Press All-Amer­ica third-team hon­ors.

Eti­enne ran for 1,658 yards and av­er­aged 8.1 yards per carry last sea­son as a se­cond-team AP All-Amer­ica se­lec­tion.

Tay­lor rushed for 2,194 yards last year - 285 more than any­one else

BILET­NIKOFF (top re­ceiver)

Jeudy caught 68 passes for 1,315 yards and 14 touch­downs as a sopho­more last sea­son.

Shenault played just nine games last year due to in­jury but still had 86 catches for 1,011 yards. He ranked fourth in yards re­ceiv­ing per game.

Ty­lan Wal­lace, Ok­la­homa State: Wal­lace was one of three fi­nal­ists for the Bilet­nikoff last sea­son and earned se­cond-team AP All-Amer­ica Hon­ors. He caught 86 passes for 1,491 yards and 12 touch­downs while rank­ing third in yards re­ceiv­ing per game.

OUTLAND (top in­te­rior line­man)

He’s the leader of an of­fen­sive line that clears the way for Jonathan Tay­lor. The junior cen­ter is a third-year starter who earned con­sen­sus first-team all-Big Ten hon­ors last sea­son.

Two years ago, Lit­tle be­came the first Stan­ford true fresh­man to start at left tackle since 2000. Now he’s a junior re­garded as a likely first-round draft pick.

This junior tackle is a third-year starter who earned se­cond-team AP All-Amer­ica hon­ors last sea­son.

BEDNARIK/NAGURSKI

(sep­a­rate awards for the top over­all de­fen­sive player)

Del­pit was a Nagurski fi­nal­ist and earned first-team AP All-Amer­ica hon­ors as a sopho­more last sea­son.

Epe­nesa is com­ing off a 2018 sea­son in which he col­lected 16 tack­les for loss and 10 sacks.

Young had 15 tack­les for loss and 10 sacks last year.

BUTKUS (top linebacker)

Fisher has col­lected at least 113 tack­les and has forced four fum­bles each of the last two sea­sons. He earned AP Al­lAmer­ica third-team hon­ors last year.

Moses was one of three fi­nal­ists for this award last sea­son as he col­lected 86 tack­les, in­clud­ing 10 for loss.

This con­verted safety had a team-high 97 tack­les for the na­tional cham­pi­ons last year. He had 9 tack­les for loss and seven pass breakups.

JIM THORPE (top de­fen­sive back)

Del­pit had 74 tack­les, five sacks and five in­ter­cep­tions last sea­son. He hopes to fol­low the lead of former LSU team­mate Greedy Wil­liams, who was a Thorpe Award fi­nal­ist last year.

Hall led the na­tion in pass breakups (22) and tied for the lead in passes de­fended (24) last sea­son. This junior cor­ner­back al­ready has made 18 ca­reer starts. He made a game-clinch­ing in­ter­cep­tion against South Carolina and had 1{ tack­les for loss in a Peach Bowl win over Michi­gan.

JOHN MACKEY (top tight end)

He was a fi­nal­ist for this award last year even though in­juries lim­ited him to nine games. Ok­wueg­bunam has caught 17 touch­down passes over the last two sea­sons.

This junior has 11 ca­reer touch­down catches. He caught four touch­down passes against Ore­gon State last Novem­ber.

This fifth-year se­nior is com­ing off a sea­son in which he caught 50 passes for 774 yards and seven touch­downs.

LOU GROZA (top kicker)

Blanken­ship made 14 straight field-goal at­tempts dur­ing one stretch last sea­son and has a ca­reer long of 55 yards.

Rothe was a Groza Award fi­nal­ist last year who went 16 of 17 on field-goal at­tempts and 28 of 28 on ex­tra points.

He won the Groza Award and was a first-team AP All-Amer­i­can last year. He was 30 of 34 on field-goal at­tempts with a long of 54.

RAY GUY (top punter)

The reign­ing Ray Guy win­ner av­er­aged 51 yards per at­tempt and landed 19 of his punts in­side the op­po­nent’s 20.

Smith was a Ray Guy Award fi­nal­ist last year. He av­er­aged 46.6 yards per punt and put 20 of his 59 at­tempts in­side the op­po­nent’s 20.

His av­er­age of 48.2 yards per punt last sea­son set a Sun Belt record.

JOSHUA L. JONES/AP

Ge­or­gia quar­ter­back Jake Fromm (11) has a chance at the Davey O’Brien Award as the top quar­ter­back in the na­tion. He ranked fifth na­tion­ally in pass­ing ef­fi­ciency last year and has fin­ished in the top 10 each of the last two sea­sons. An­drew Thomas, Ge­or­gia:

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