Roundup contenders for best defensive players, linemen and more
The Heisman is but one award, and one award isn’t enough to contain the best of college football.
While we love prognosticating who will win college football’s most coveted individual trophy, we also love the glut of postseason awards that go to each position, each with a nod to the game’s history from Davey O’Brien and Doak Walker to Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe to Ray Guy and Lou Groza.
Everyone tracks the progress in the Heisman race, but Athlon Sports will try to keep an eye on who will take home college football’s positional awards.
Here’s our first look at the “other” trophies through the first week of the season.
Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Clemson’s Tajh Boyd
The Tigers quarterback led the nation’s top win in the first week of the season, earning frontrunner status in our weekly Heisman poll and national player of the week honors. Boyd was especially crisp in the second half of the 38-35 win over Georgia, completing 12 of 17 passes for 130 yards with two touchdowns after the break.
Others: Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller
Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Georgia’s Todd Gurley
Gurley spent a good portion of the first half on the bench against Clemson after three carries and an 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Gurley still finished with 154 yards.
Others: Miami’s Duke Johnson, Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk
Biletnikoff (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews
A gutty effort saw Matthews get hit in the stomach and get sick on the field in the fourth quarter only to return to catch a key fourth down pass in the Commodores’ go-ahead scoring drive. Matthews finished with 10 catches for 178 yards with a touchdown.
Others: USC’s Marqise Lee, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins
Mackey (Top tight end)
Our leader: Indiana’s Ted Bolser
This was a quiet week at the tight end position as Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Arizona State’s Chris Coyle didn’t play. But it’s a good time to highlight the under rated Ted Bolser from Indiana. Bolser caught six passes for 78 yards with two touchdowns.
Outland (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Arkansas’ Travis Swanson
At first, we thought it might be tough for Swanson to gain notoriety if Arkansas struggled. That was not the case in Week 1, at least, as the Razorbacks ran the ball like Bret Bielema’s Wisconsin teams behind Swanson at center. The Hogs rushed for 292 yards on 51 carries against UL-Lafayette.
Others: Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard, Michigan’s Taylor Lewan
Nagurski/Bednarik (Defensive player of the year)
Our leader: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney
Let’s not overreact to Clowney sitting for a few plays against North Carolina in the late-August South Carolina humidity. He’s still the best defensive player in the country. If Clowney’s not at full speed this week against Georgia, though, he may have company for that distinction.
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller
Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Clowney
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier
Butkus (Top linebacker)
Our leader: Anthony Barr, UCLA
Barr is still our preseason favorite and did little to disappoint against Nevada with five tackles and two tackles for a loss against the Wolf Pack.
Others: Northwestern’s Collin Ellis, Buffalo’s Khalil Mack, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier
Thorpe (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller
This may be another long year for Virginia Tech, but Kyle Fuller gave Alabama’s passing game trouble with an interception and two pass breakups in an otherwise undistinguished
Others: Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner
Lou Groza (Top kicker)
Our leader: Penn State’s Sam Ficken
Maligned for his early season struggles in 2012, Ficken extended his streak of made field goals to 13 in a row with kicks of 36, 35 and 46 yards against Syracuse.
Others: Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, Tulane’s Cairo Santos
Ray Guy (Top punter)
Our leader: West Virginia’s Nick O’Toole
This probably isn’t a category that Dana Holgorsen wants to be the highlight of his season, but the Mountaineers averaged net 50 yards per punt off O’Toole’s leg in the opener.
Others: Alabama’s Cody Mandell, Wyoming’s Ethan Wood
Freshman of the year
Our leader: Florida State’s Jameis Winston
Throughout his redshirt year, we’ve been hearing Winston is the real deal. Even then, his 25-of-27 debut against Pittsburgh on the road defied all expectations.
Others: Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell
Coach of the year
Our leader: Washington’s Steve Sarkisian
After demolishing a Boise State team that’s rarely demolished, Washington may finally have all the pieces together for a special season in Sarkisian’s fifth year in Seattle.
Others: Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney
Broyles Award (Top assistant)
Our leader: Oklahoma State’s Glenn Spencer
For at least one week, Oklahoma State’s defense was the story as the Cowboys held Mississippi State to a field goal and recorded 10 tackles for a loss.
Others: Maryland’s Mike Locksley, Clemson’s Chad Morris, Oklahoma’s Mike Stoops