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College Football Awards Show: Who Deserves the Hardware?

Danny FlynnSenior Analyst IDecember 28, 2016

College Football Awards Show: Who Deserves the Hardware?

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    Cameron NewtonKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Tomorrow night, ESPN will broadcast their annual college football awards show live from the Atlantic Dance Hall at the Walt Disney Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The ceremony, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET, recognizes and honors some of the top performers from this past season with prestigious honors such as the Maxwell Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Davey O’Brien Award.

    Auburn’s Cam Newton, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Oregon’s LaMichael James and Boise State’s Kellen Moore, this year’s four Heisman finalists, will all be in attendance as nominees for various awards along with many other of college football’s big names such as LSU’s Patrick Peterson, Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon and Wisconsin’s John Clay.

    Auburn’s Gene Chizik has already been announced as the recipient of the Coach of the Year award after leading the Tigers to a 13-0 season, an SEC Championship and a berth in the national title game in just his second season at the school.

    While we know Chizik will be taking home some nice hardware, there are still nine other awards up for grabs.

    Let’s take a look at which players should hoist up the trophies tomorrow.  

Chuck Bednarik Award: Nick Fairley, Auburn

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    Nick FairleyKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Awarded For: Best Defensive Player

    Finalists
    Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson

    Nick Fairley, Auburn

    Patrick Peterson, LSU

    It’s hard to get your fair share of accolades when you just so happen to play on the same team as Cam Newton, but that didn’t seem to faze Auburn’s Nick Fairley one bit this year.

    The 6‘5", 300-pound tackle was college football’s most dominant defensive lineman this season and routinely overpowered some of the best offensive lines in the country.

    Fairley finished with 21 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks on the year and drew both praise and fear from anybody who had the unenviable task of trying to block him.

    There were those around the SEC who chastised Fairley for his overaggressive playing style but that only goes to show the type of impact the junior really had. When your good at what you do, the cynics will look for any reason to try and bring you down.

Biletnikoff Award: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

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    Justin BlackmonChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Awarded For: Best Receiver

    Finalists
    Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

    Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

    Alshon Jeffery,  South Carolina

    Justin Blackmon came out of relatively nowhere to explode onto the college football scene in 2010.

    After catching just 20 balls in 2009, the redshirt sophomore stepped his game up and became the go- to-weapon for Oklahoma State’s high-powered offense in 2010.

    Blackmon made Cowboy fans forget about Dez Bryant by hauling in 102 passes for 1,665 yards. He also led the country with 18 touchdown receptions.

    Blackmon was the main reason this Oklahoma State team, which had lost a good amount of key players from the 2009 squad, was able to achieve so much success this season.

Lou Groza Award: Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State

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    Dan BaileyChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Awarded For: Best Kicker

    Finalists
    Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State

    Danny Hrapmann, Southern Miss

    David Ruffer, Notre Dame

    All three of these kickers could make their separate cases for the award.

    David Ruffer was a perfect 15-15 on field goal tries but did miss three extra points.

    Danny Hrappman led the country with 26 made field goals, hitting on 86 percent of his tries.

    With a high powered offense on his side, Dan Bailey led the country with 137 total points, hitting 24 of his 28 field goal attempts and converting 65 extra points.

Ray Guy Award: Chas Henry, Florida

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    Chas HenrySam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Awarded For: Best Punter

    Finalists
    Drew Butler, Georgia

    Ryan Donahue, Iowa

    Chas Henry, Florida

    After a prolific four year career in Gainesville, Florida’s Chas Henry capped things off as a senior with his best season yet.

    Henry led the nation with a 46.4 per punt average and helped flip the field on numerous occasions for a Gator offense that struggled at times this season.

Jim Thorpe Award: Patrick Peterson, LSU

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    Patrick PetersonChris Graythen/Getty Images

    Awarded For: Best Defensive Back

    Finalists
    Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

    Tejay Johnson, TCU

    Patrick Peterson, LSU

    Prince Amukamara may end up getting this award based off of seniority. But if he does, it won’t be well deserved.

    Not to take anything away from Amukamara, who is a terrific player in his own right. But the fact is, nobody can compare with LSU’s Patrick Peterson.

    Peterson has every trait you look for in a top flight coverman. He’s up there on that utmost level with the recent greats like DeAngelo Hall, Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson.

    The 6‘1", 220-pound junior has the size of a safety and the natural skills of a cornerback. When combined, the result is one of the best defensive backs to grace the game of college football in nearly a decade.

    Peterson is one of the rare defensive gamechangers.

    If he doesn’t win the award, it would be an injustice.

    The darkhorse is of course Tejay Johnson, who could be picked based on all the success the TCU defense had this year. While he’s probably one of the more unheralded players in the college game, it’s hard to justify singling out Johnson when the TCU defense has been the definition of a unit this season.

Outland Trophy: Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin

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    Gabe CarimiAl Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Awarded For: Best Interior Lineman

    Finalists
    Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin

    Rodney Hudson, Florida State

    Nate Solder, Colorado

    Wisconsin already has Joe Thomas’ 2006 Outland Trophy sitting in their trophy case but the school might have to get ready to make room for another one.

    Gabe Carimi, who took over for Thomas at left tackle in 2007, has helped pave the way for the Badgers rushing attack these past four years.

    Carimi, a first team All Big Ten selection in 2009, assumed the senior leadership role along with fellow trenchmen John Moffitt as they overpowered opposing defenses this season.

    The 6‘6", 325-pound former high school All-American created space for big John Clay and other Badger backs to rush for nearly 250 yards a game and a combined 46 touchdowns on the season.

Doak Walker Award: LaMichael James, Oregon

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    LaMichael JamesSteve Dykes/Getty Images

    Awarded For: Best Running Back

    Finalists
    John Clay, Wisconsin

    Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State

    LaMichael James, Oregon

    He’s definitely not the biggest back out there, but 5‘9", 185-pound LaMichael James seems to make more big plays than any other runner in college football.

    James followed up his eye opening 1,500 yard rushing season as a freshman in 2009 by topping himself as a sophomore.

    The human highlight reel with blazing track speed covered over 1,600 yards on the ground and found the end zone 22 times for an Oregon offense which scored more points than any other team in the entire country.

    James was the key that ignited Oregon’s spread attack. He accounted for more rushing yards per game than any other back in the country.

Maxwell Award: Cam Newton, Auburn

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    Cameron NewtonKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Awarded For: Best All-Around Player

    Finalists
    Andrew Luck, Stanford

    Kellen Moore, Boise State

    Cam Newton, Auburn

    Is there even any need for debate?

    Newton will likely go down as one of the most exciting, explosive and captivating players in college football history and the junior will probably only have one season’s worth of work on his resume.

    But that one season has certainly been a doozy.

    49 total touchdowns, over 4,000 total yards and most importantly 13-0.

    Say what you want to say about Newton, but in that description you better have the word unstoppable.

    From a sheer electricity standpoint, we may not come across another college player like this anytime soon.

    Cam Newton has crossed that threshold from being just another great player to now being a figure, an icon of sorts.

    Blowing kisses to your critics, jumping into the student section for a winning embrace, making confetti angels during the postgame celebration in Atlanta - we’re all waiting to see what you do next Cam. You kept your smile through scandal, held your poise through adversity and maintained an unbelievable level of excellence all the way through.

    You truly deserve to be celebrated for all you’ve done this season.

Davey O’Brien Award: Andrew Luck, Stanford

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    Andrew LuckEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Awarded For: Best Quarterback

    Finalists
    Andrew Luck, Stanford

    Kellen Moore, Boise State

    Cam Newton, Auburn

    While Newton may be the best “all around” difference maker in college football, when it comes to pure quarterback play, there’s no on in the game that can hold a candle to what Stanford’s Andrew Luck accomplished this season.

    Luck, who has dethroned conference counterpart Jake Locker as the media’s trendy new No. 1 pick darling, was nothing short of sensational this season.

    Luck has helped elevate the Stanford program to national relevancy as the leader of the 11-1 Cardinal powerhouse.

    This season, the star sophomore totaled for over 3,000 yards through the air and hit 28 touchdown strikes while completing over 70 percent of his passes, one of the most efficient marks in the country.

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