2012 College Football Awards Picks and Predictions College football’s regular season is basically in the books, and it’s time to hand out some hardware. As with most awards, some choices are obvious while others are subject to serious debate. Winners will actually be crowned at the annual banquet in the coming days, but in the meantime, here is a look at the frontrunners for many of top honors in college football for this past season.
2012 College Football Awards Picks and Predictions
Heisman Trophy: Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
From his SEC-record 4,600 yards to leading the Aggies past a then top-ranked Alabama team in Tuscaloosa, Manziel has the numbers, the statement win and the hype. The red-shirt freshman easily surpassed 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing while combining for 43 touchdowns. Texas A&M didn’t factor in the SEC race, but a two-loss season and a top-10 national ranking are still pretty solid for a program playing in the country’s toughest conference for the first time.
Davey O’Brien Award: Johnny Manziel, Quarterback, Texas A&M
He certainly isn’t a conventional pocket passer, but no quarterback was more productive in terms of generating offense than Manziel. He was a big play waiting to happen, and he torched defenses with his arm and his legs all year. Not to mention the fact that if the guy was good enough to get my Heisman nod, it kind of goes without saying that he is also the best player at his position.
Doak Walker Award: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Defenses keyed on Ball all season as Wisconsin was forced to use three different starting quarterbacks, but that didn’t stop the senior form finishing third in the country with 1,730 yards and fourth in touchdowns with 21. His monster performance in the Big Ten title game that sent the Badgers back to the Rose Bowl was the cherry on top of another outstanding year.
Fred Biletnikoff Award: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
Bailey showcased his all-around ability throughout the season, moving the chains, torching defenses deep and coming up big in the red zone. He finished fourth in the country with 106 receptions and third with 1,501 receiving yards. More importantly, his 23 touchdowns were seven more than the next closest player.
John Mackey Award: Zach Ertz, Stanford
He led all tight ends in both receptions (66) and yards (837) while scoring six touchdowns for a Stanford team that won the Pac-12. His numbers are even more impressive when you consider that the Cardinal don’t have any star receivers to take the pressure off Ertz. Not to mention the fact that Stanford used multiple QBs throughout the season. Regardless of who was under center, Ertz was their top target.
Outland Trophy: Barrett Jones, Center, Alabama
Jones was the anchor of an offensive line that produced a pair of 1,000-yard rushers and 35 total rushing scores. Overall, the Crimson Tide ranked 20th in the country in rushing yards and fourth in yards per carry. Throw in the fact that this was the third different position Jones has played along the offensive line in his career, and there is little doubt that he is the most versatile, dominant lineman in the country.
Lombardi Award: Manti Te’o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame
He was a force in the middle of the nation’s top-ranked scoring defense. Te’o finished the year with more than 100 tackles and finished second in the country with seven interceptions. The fact that this particular award emphasizes leadership and the Fighting Irish are undefeated and playing for the BCS title makes Te’o an easy pick.
Chuck Bednarik Award: Manti Te’o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame
This award is essentially the MVP for defensive players, which makes Te’o the obvious choice. He is the vocal and emotional leader for the country’s top team and the country’s top defense. Not to mention the fact that he got the job done with his play, as well, notching more than 100 tackles and seven interceptions. Notre Dame is undefeated because of its defense, and Te’o is the best defender on the Fighting Irish.
Dick Butkus Award: Manti Te’o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame
Georgia’s Jarvis Jones is probably the most physically gifted linebacker in the country, but the consistently strong play of Te’o trumps the big-play ability of Jones this year. I’ve elaborated on his stats enough in some of the other awards, and not surprisingly, I have Te’o sweeping just about every award that can go to a defensive player.
Jim Thorpe Award: Phillip Thomas, Cornerback, Fresno State
When opposing quarterbacks went after Thomas this season, he made them pay. He led the country with eight interceptions, and he was tied for the lead with three interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Lou Groza Award: Cairo Santos, Tulane
Santos was not on the radar coming into the year, but it a perfect season can definitely change that. He hit all 21 of his field goal attempts, becoming just the second kicker in history to complete a perfect season while attempting more than 20 field goals. More impressively, Santos also led the country with 12 field goals from more than 40 yards.
Coach of the Year: Bill O’Brien, Penn State
No coach has ever faced tougher circumstances than those O’Brien had to deal with this year, and hopefully, no coach ever will. On the heels of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the resulting penalties that left Penn State without several of its top players and the possibility of postseason play, O’Brien righted the ship after an 0-2 start and guided the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record, including a 6-2 mark in Big Ten play.
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