Early Predictions for Every Major 2013 College Football Award

Amy DaughtersFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2013

Early Predictions for Every Major 2013 College Football Award

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    The opening arguments for the case of the 2013 season of college football will ensue just as soon as the final whistle signals the end of the BCS title game this Monday night.

    Indeed, the end of one year means that there is no time to waste in starting to prognosticate, predict and argue who will rise to the top in 2013.

    And this is a discussion that won’t be limited to which teams will triumph, oh no, this riveting conversation will also include which individual players will play lights-out and inscribe their names in the book of gridiron lore.

    The following slideshow gets the forward thinking ball rolling just a few days ahead of schedule and boldly predicts the winner of every major college football award in 2013.

    It’s a who’s who of who might be and if nothing else it serves as reminder that if you didn’t get what you wished for in your festive sock this season, there is always next year to live the dream.

Heisman Memorial Trophy

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    Awarded to the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.

    2012 Winner: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

    Projected 2013 Winner: Todd Gurley, Georgia

    With an improved defense in 2013, the Bulldogs win the SEC East and the conference title and leading the way offensively is sophomore RB Todd Gurley.

    Gurley finished No. 25 among all rushers as a freshman in 2012, and he uses his 1,260 yards and 16 TDs in 2012 as a launch pad to glory in 2013.

Maxwell Award

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    Awarded to the college football player of the year.

    2012 Winner: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Everett Golson, Notre Dame

    With a decidedly easier slate in 2013 Notre Dame continues to roll behind a stifling defense that now has the huge benefit of partnering with a much improved offensive unit.

    Leading the Irish O is junior QB Everett Golson who leverages his decent stats in 2012 and explodes onto the national scene in 2013.

    Golson is 166-of-282 (58.9 percent) for 2,135 yards, 11 TDs and five picks going into the BCS title game and has additional 305 yards and five scores as a rusher.

    Though the 2012 Notre Dame football team is all about defense, 2013 may be the year that we are reminded that Brian Kelly can put together a formidable offense as well.


Walter Camp Award

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    Awarded to the player of the year in college football.

    2012 Winner: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Braxton Miller, Ohio State

    Waiting in the wings for what could be a slew of national player of the year type awards, both Braxton Miller and the Ohio State football program won’t have to hide its light under a bushel in 2013.

    Yes, gone next season is the postseason ban and therefore we can finally see what the trifecta of Urban Meyer, Ohio State and a very athletic Braxton Miller can combine to produce for Buckeye fans.

    Miller’s passing stats weren’t much to celebrate in 2012 (148-of-254, 58.3 percent, 2,039 yards, 15 TDs and six picks), but as a rusher, he shined ever so brightly as a sophomore.

    Miller rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 TDs in 2012, making him the No. 25 rusher in the nation this season in yards and tying him at No. 28 in terms of TDs.

The Home Depot Award

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    Awarded to college football’s top head coach.

    2012 Winner: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Bret Bielema, Arkansas

    In the same way that Bret Bielema’s transfer from Wisconsin to Arkansas shocked the world in 2012, Bielema’s performance in his inaugural season in Fayetteville will stun even Razorback fans.

    Bielema manages to cash in on Arkansas’ rich talent pool and wins the program’s first SEC West crown since 2006 and the Hogs advance to the SEC title game.

    Razorback fans suddenly approach the John L. Smith era at Arkansas as if it were the dream warped season of the popular nighttime soap Dallas where in Bobby Ewing was dead for an entire only to show back up in a shower at the beginning of the following season.

    Let’s just hope we don’t have to see Petrino, Bielema or Smith in a shower scene.

    I’m not saying, I’m just saying.


Doak Walker Award

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    Awarded to the nation’s top college football running back.

    2012 Winner: Montee Ball, Wisconsin

    Projected 2013 Winner: Johnathan Gray, Texas

    With a boatload of returning starters Texas finally turns the corner in 2013 and wins the Big 12 for the first time since 2009.

    Leading the way for the Horns offensively is sophomore RB Johnathan Gray who literally explodes in his second season a collegian.

    Gray rushed for 701 yards and three scores as a freshman in 2012 and tacked on an additional 151 yards and a single score as a receiver.

    Amazingly, this was enough to make the youngster Texas’ leading rusher this season.

Davey O’Brien Award

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    Awarded to the collegiate American football player adjudged to be the best of all NCAA quarterbacks.

    2012 Winner: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

    Projected 2013 Winner: Marcus Mariota, Oregon

    As a freshman in 2012, Marcus Mariota made it almost easy to forget how talented the Ducks’ previous QB had been and surprisingly healed the sting of his early flee for the NFL.

    Mariota’s numbers going into the 2012-13 Fiesta Bowl are stunning; 218-of-312 for 2,511 yards, 30 TDs and only six interceptions.

    This nets Mariota a 165.4 passer rating which is currently No. 5 among all FBS QBs.

    The potential for Mariota to soar even higher is huge in 2013.


Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award

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    Awarded to the nation’s outstanding senior quarterback in college football.

    2012 Winner: Collin Klein, Kansas State

    Projected 2013 Winner: Tajh Boyd, Clemson

    After icing LSU in a thrilling Chick-fil-A Bowl you’ve got to figure both Clemson and junior QB Tajh Boyd have loads of much needed momentum coming into the 2013 season.

    As a senior next year, Boyd could very well be a part of not only the major QB awards discussions, but he could also slip into the Heisman, Maxwell and Walter Camp races.

    With only two regular season losses (to Florida State and South Carolina) and some very solid stats, it's frankly amazing that Boyd’s name wasn’t kicked around more in this season’s award slate.

    Boyd went 287-of-427 (67.2 percent) for 3,896 yards, 36 TDs and 13 INTs in 2012 netting him a QB rating of 165.6 which is No. 3 in the nation.

    With both his main targets due back in 2013 Boyd could be all-world, especially if Clemson can reclaim the ACC title.

Fred Biletnikoff Award

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    Awarded to America’s top college football receiver.

    2012 Winner: Marqise Lee, USC

    Projected 2013 Winner: DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

    Though a year ago, it looked like Sammy Watkins was going to be the guy to eventually take home a slew of individual awards for Clemson, 2012 made junior WR DeAndre Hopkins a star.

    Hopkins’ racked up 1,405 yards and 18 TDs this season making him the No. 4 receiver nationally in yards and the clear No. 2 guy in terms of scoring.

    What looms delicious for Hopkins is the fact that he goes into his senior season with one of the most valuable assets imaginable for a stat-happy WR in that he’ll be catching balls thrown by starting QB Tajh Boyd who just so happens to be one of the most efficient QBs in the FBS.

John Mackey Award

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    Awarded to college football’s most outstanding tight end.

    2012 Winner: Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

    With 69 catches for 852 yards and seven scores as a sophomore in 2012, Seferian-Jenkins shared the honor of being one of two of college football’s most productive TEs this season.

    Jenkins shared this honor with Stanford’s Zach Ertz who was an integral part of a very young offense that managed to score the Cardinal a Rose Bowl victory.

    Jenkins will be part of a more mature Washington team in 2013, and if he can improve on his numbers from this season as a junior, he will be at the top of the Mackey list.

Outland Trophy

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    Awarded to the best United States college football interior lineman.

    2012 Winner: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

    Projected 2013 Winner: James Hurst, North Carolina

    As a junior in 2012 North Carolina OT James Hurst earned coaches All-ACC first team honors, and he is set to soar as a senior in 2013.

    The good news for Hurst is that despite the postseason ban the Tar Heels flourished in 2012 and finished the year ranked No. 9 nationally in sacks allowed with 11.


Vince Lombardi/Rotary Award

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    Awarded to the best college football lineman or linebacker.

    2012 Winner: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Eric Kendricks, UCLA

    As a sophomore in 2012, UCLA LB Eric Kendricks finished the season ranked No. 3 nationally in total tackles with 151 (95 solo, six for a loss).

    Beyond this feat Kendricks forced four fumbles (tied for No. 8 nationally) and returned two for TDs, registered one INT, racked up two sacks, blocked a kick and broke up four passes.

    UCLA’s scoring defense improved from a No. 94 ranking in 2011 to a No. 58 mark in 2012, and if the Bruins can build on the success enjoyed in Jim Mora’s first season, Kendricks could be all over the national radar in 2013.

Rimington Trophy

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    Awarded to the most outstanding center in college football.

    2012 Winner: Barrett Jones, Alabama

    Projected 2013 Winner: Travis Swanson, Arkansas

    Another knock-on effect of a successful inaugural season under Bret Bielema will be the rising star of Razorback center Travis Swanson who will be a senior in 2013.

    Despite the traumatic drop in wins in 2012, the Arkansas O-line managed a No. 32 ranking in sacks allowed, a finish that actually indicated a major improvement over a 2011 final ranking of No. 74.

    Regardless of whether  Swanson actually captures the Rimington Trophy next season, he ought to go high in the 2014 NFL draft, and 2013 is the year he is set to provide a silent but invaluable asset to the new era of Hogs football.

Chuck Bednarik Award

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    Awarded to the college football defensive player of the year.

    2012 Winner: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

    After proving he was worth all the hype as a sophomore in 2012, Jadeveon Clowney should explode in 2013 and has all the right stuff to be one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game.

    Clowney racked up 54 tackles, 13 sacks (tied for No. 2 nationally), 23.5 tackles for a loss (tied for No. 2 nationally), two broken-up passes, five QB hurries and three forced fumbles in 2012, making his junior season look delicious.

    If South Carolina can be a real player in the SEC race next season, look for Clowney to capture every major individual defensive award, and if the Cocks win the conference, look for his name to be called on blessed Heisman night.


Bronko Nagurski Award

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    Awarded to the collegiate American football player adjudged to be the best defensively in the NCAA.

    2012 Winner: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

    Again, there is no reason to expect that South Carolina’s DE Jadeveon Clowney won’t continue to simply explode into his junior season in 2013.

    It’s important to keep in mind that Clowney was a sophomore in the SEC when he pumped out his amazing statistical resume in 2012.

Dick Butkus Award

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    Awarded to the top linebackers at the high school, collegiate and professional levels of football.

    2012 Winner: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Max Bullough, Michigan State

    Though it’s still not a lock that Michigan State’s junior LB Max Bullough will return for his senior season in 2013, if he does he should be among the top five linebackers in college football.

    Bullough registered 110 total tackles in 2012 and also racked up 12.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, four broken-up passes, three QB hurries and a forced fumble.

    Bullough also has the benefit of playing for one of the best defenses in the FBS over the past several seasons, ranking No. 9 nationally in scoring this season and No. 10 in 2011.

Jim Thorpe Award

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    Awarded to the top defensive back in college football.

    2012 Winner: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

    Projected 2013 Winner: Eric Reid, LSU

    Though it’s still unknown as to whether FS Eric Reid will declare early for the 2013 NFL draft, if he opts to stay in Baton Rouge for his senior season, look for the awards to roll in.

    Reid earned second team All-American honors from the AP this season, recognizing a campaign that included 91 tackles, two picks, a tackle for a loss and seven broken-up passes.

Lou Groza Award

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    Awarded to the top college football placekicker in the United States.

    2012 Winner: Cario Santos, Tulane

    Projected 2013 Winner: Austin Lopez, San Jose State

    Freshman PK Austin Lopez managed to pull off a stunning rookie feat by virtue of posting a perfect 17-of-17 mark on field goals in 2012.

    With 105 total points, Lopez was a key cog in San Jose State’s stunning campaign that included an 11-win season and a No. 24 ranking in the final BCS standings.

    If Lopez can continue to clip along at the same level of success, he could well be one of the best kickers in college football in 2013 and then moving forward.

Ray Guy Award

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    Awarded to college football’s top punter.

    2012 Winner: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech

    Projected 2013 Winner: Kyle Christy, Florida

    The Florida Gators managed as many narrow victories as almost any team in 2012, meaning that you have got to figure that stuff like field position and turnover ratio were huge factors in getting to 11-1.

    Not surprisingly, Florida finished the season ranked No. 5 nationally in turnover margin, and similarly it should be no great shock that it has the No. 5-ranked punter in the FBS on its roster.

    Sophomore punter Kyle Christy averaged 46.10 yards per punt in 2012, and if keeps on track in 2013, his contributions could be absolutely gigantic if the Gators are return to the BCS.

Ted Hendricks Award

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    Awarded to the top defensive end in college football.

    2012 Winner: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

    Projected 2013 Winner: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

    When it just so happens that the most sparkly, most dominant and most talented defender in the nation gets it done as a defensive end, it should therefore be no surprise that he will repeat as the winner of the Ted Hendricks award.

    Anyone wanting verification that Clowney is a force to be visually savored, check out this golden nugget from what was arguably the decisive play in the Cocks' win over Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.



Campbell Trophy

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    Awarded to the American college football player with the best combination of academics, community service and on-field performance.

    2012 Winner: Barrett Jones, Alabama

    Projected 2013 Winner: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

    Oklahoma’s OL Gabe Ikard earned second team academic All-American recognition in 2011 as a sophomore and then captured first-team honors this season as a junior.

    Ikard carries an impressive 4.00 GPA in Multidisciplinary Studies at Oklahoma, and if he stays out of the 2013 NFL draft, expect his name to be mentioned for a slew of academic awards including the Campbell, which is commonly referred to as the “Academic Heisman.”

Frank Broyles Award

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    Awarded to honor the best assistant coach in college football.

    2012 Winner: Bob Diaco, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Derek Mason, Stanford

    If you wonder how Stanford managed such a stunning improvement to its football fortunes under Jim Harbaugh and then how that success level was sustained and then added to under head man David Shaw think defense.

    And if the Cardinal takes the next obvious step after winning the Pac-12 and the Rose Bowl in 2013 and ascends to the national title game, look for the guy in charge of the defense to get some well-deserved honors.

    After a stint as a DB assistant at the Minnesota Vikings from 2007-09, Derek Mason came to Stanford in 2010 as the secondary coach and was promoted to Associate Head Coach/DC/DB coach for the 2011-12 season.

    The Cardinal’s 2012 D ranked No. 11 nationally in scoring and No. 6 vs. the rush, and if the relatively young team improves further in 2013, Mason may well be the next “flavor of the month” in college football coaching circles.


Lott IMPACT Trophy

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    Awarded to the college football defensive IMPACT player of the year.

    2012 Winner: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

    Projected 2013 Winner: Max Bullough, Michigan State

    Michigan State’s on-field stud LB Max Bullough is not only a great defensive force, but he’s also dominant in the classroom.

    Bullough, a junior in 2012, carries a 3.73 GPA as Finance major at MSU and defines the term “student athlete” about as aptly as any junior in the college football nation.

Disney Spirit Award

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    Awarded to college football’s most inspirational individual or team.

    2012 Winner: Nate Boyer, Texas

    Projected 2013 Winner: Austin Woods, Oklahoma

    Sooners junior center Austin Woods was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma after the Sooners' spring game in 2012 and somehow managed to make most of the summer workouts despite a full round of chemo treatments.

    Unbelievably, Woods was an active player all season for Oklahoma and also continued to get things done in the classroom earning Big 12 All-Academic honors as a Management major.

    This guy is definitely an inspiration and one of those stories that transcends sports.