Picking the 2008 College Football Award Winners

Will SheltonSenior Analyst IDecember 9, 2008

On Thursday night at 7:30, ESPN will once again televise the College Football Awards Show, which will see a dozen awards presented plus name the Walter Camp All-American team. And since the Heisman Trophy still gets its own night and I'll be celebrating 11 years of not watching it, here's the breakdown and my picks for who should win everything else on Thursday night:

Davey O'Brien Award - Best QB
- Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
- Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
- Colt McCoy, Texas

It's the Big 12 South's party and Tim Tebow isn't invited. And perhaps rightfully so, because the numbers on these three guys, with each playing in an elite BCS conference, are staggering. The same round robin argument can't really be used to pick a winner here because they split against each other, and the stats also leave you with questions: Harrell threw for the most yards, Bradford the most touchdowns, and McCoy had the highest completion percentage.

In such a tight race, you need something to stand out. Harrell will continue to be somewhat overlooked, even if unfairly, because of the system he plays in. Between McCoy and Bradford, the edge has to go to McCoy not only because Texas beat OU, but for the way McCoy has made plays with his feet as well all season. In other years the seasons Bradford and Harrell have put up would've been good enough to win...but in 2008 the nod has to go to Colt McCoy.

Will's Pick: Colt McCoy

Doak Walker Award - Best RB
- Shonn Greene, Iowa
- Knowshon Moreno, Georgia
- Javon Ringer, Michigan State

No disrespect to the SEC pick, but Moreno doesn't have the numbers to be in the conversation between these two. It's questionable where Donald Brown from UConn is in this race, but these are the finalists so we'll play the hand we're dealt.

Again, the numbers differ: Greene has more yards, Ringer more touchdowns. When the two teams played head to head, Michigan State won the game, but Greene outgained him by sixty yards. Therefore...

Will's Pick: Shonn Greene

Fred Biletnikoff Award - Best WR
- Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
- Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
- Jeremy Maclin, Missouri

Crabtree is going to win because he's developed a better name recognition than the other two guys, even thought they've both had outstanding seasons as well; Bryant has more receiving yards than Crabtree, and Maclin has done more from an all-purpose standpoint.

But Crabtree has the definitive play of the year in college football to go along with his name value, and outplayed Bryant head to head. All great players this season, but I see no way Crabtree doesn't walk home with the trophy.

Will's Pick: Michael Crabtree

Outland Trophy - Best Interior Lineman
- Michael Oher, Ole Miss
- Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
- Andre Smith, Alabama

An interesting mix that features the best lineman on the best offense in college football for a team that'll play for the National Championship, the best interior lineman on an Alabama unit that just missed the same prize...and Michael Oher, who's done more with less than both of them.

All three have NFL mega-dollars in their futures, and have had accomplished seasons, but Robinson and Smith are just part of the show...Oher is the show for the Ole Miss offense. That for me helps separate him from this crowded field (plus, did you know that an Oklahoma player has won the Outland Trophy five different times already?)

Will's Pick: Michael Oher

Jim Thorpe Award - Best DB
- Eric Berry, Tennessee
- Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State
- Taylor Mays, USC

The other two guys are very good players with great name recognition. Eric Berry is a great player.

Berry owns the SEC records for single season INT return yardage and career INT return yardage. He's a sophomore.

Berry recorded seven picks this season and took three back for touchdowns, and tried to kill Knowshon Moreno, an Alabama wide receiver and three guys on South Carolina's offense during an INT return.

Even if I take off my orange-tinted glasses, Berry is a Heisman Trophy candidate in 2009. This will be a nice start.

Will's Pick: Eric Berry (son)

Chuck Bednarik Award - Best Defensive Player
- James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
- Aaron Maybin, Penn State
- Ray Maualuga, USC

If Maualuga was healthy all season, he wins this. But you can't overlook the insane production of Maybin, another sophomore who could take hom the trophy. Laurinaitis is solid and led the Buckeye defense, no surprise. But Maybin was much more destructive with 12 sacks and almost 20 TFLs. Laurinaitis may win on the career factor, but Maybin was a bigger force on a better team in 2008.

Will's Pick: Aaron Maybin

Maxwell Award - Best Overall Player
- Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
- Colt McCoy, Texas
- Tim Tebow, Florida

If Tebow wasn't good enough to make the O'Brien finalist list, and McCoy was a better choice than Harrell there...you have to go with McCoy again here. Plain and simple.

Will's Pick: Colt McCoy, Texas

Home Depot Coach of the Year
There are no finalists that I can find for this award, but let me throw some names at you:
- Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
- Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
- Brian Kelly, Cincinnati
- Mike Leach, Texas Tech
- Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
- Houston Nutt, Ole Miss
- Joe Paterno, Penn State
- Nick Saban, Alabama
- Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Now, as much as it pains me to say it...don't we have to give this award to Saban? None of the other guys on this list went further with fewer national expectations, and I'm willing to bet that Saban does more than Paterno these days, who is the only real comparison.

Will's Pick: Nick Saban

Walter Camp All-America Team
...or we could call it my own personal All-American squad:

QB Colt McCoy, Texas
RB Donald Brown, UConn
RB Shonn Greene, Iowa
WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
TE Chase Coffman, Missouri
OL Michael Oher, Ole Miss
OL Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
OL Andre Smith, Alabama
OL A.Q. Shipley, Penn State
OL Max Unger, Oregon

DL Aaron Maybin, Penn State
DL Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma
DL Brian Orakpo, Texas
DL Terrence Cody, Alabama
LB James Laurinaitis, Ohio State
LB Ray Maualuga, USC
LB Brandon Spikes, Florida
DB Eric Berry, Tennessee
DB Macho Harris, Virginia Tech
DB Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State
DB Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest

K Graham Gano, Florida State
P Louie Sakoda, Utah

Agree or disagree? Feel free to leave your picks for any/all of these awards in the comments. You can also vote at ESPN.com on the awards to be presented Thursday night, where the fan vote helps determine who takes home the trophy.

I hope to be watching the Heisman presentation for the first time this decade next year when Eric Berry becomes the next Vol to be screwed out of the award. It can be a bitter time to be a Vol fan, folks, and sometimes it comes out like this...what can I say.