College Football Awards 2015: Results, Winners, Highlights and Twitter Reaction

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2015

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 05:  Running back Derrick Henry #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs during the SEC Championship game against the Florida Gators at Georgia Dome on December 5, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The two weeks between the end of the college football season and the start of the bowl games feels like an eternity for diehard pigskin fans, but ESPN's 2015 College Football Awards provided an opportunity to reflect on the most memorable moments of the year and look ahead to the postseason.

With that in mind, here is a look at the winners who were recognized during Thursday's broadcast:

Awards Handed Out During 2015 College Football Awards Broadcast
Davey O'Brien AwardDeshaun Watson, Clemson
Fred Biletnikoff AwardCorey Coleman, Baylor
Ray Guy AwardTom Hackett, Utah
Coach of the YearDabo Swinney, Clemson
Disney Spirit AwardHank Goff, Concordia-St. Paul
Doak Walker AwardDerrick Henry, Alabama
Outland TrophyJoshua Garnett, Stanford
Jim Thorpe AwardDesmond King, Iowa
Rimington AwardRyan Kelly, Alabama
John Mackey AwardHunter Henry, Arkansas
Wuerffel TrophyTy Darlington, Oklahoma
Broyles AwardLincoln Riley, Oklahoma
Lombardi AwardCarl Nassib, Penn State
Bronko Nagurski TrophyTyler Matakevich, Temple
Butkus AwardJaylon Smith, Notre Dame
Jim Thorpe AwardDesmond King, Iowa
NCFAA Contributions to College Football AwardBarry Switzer
Lou Groza AwardKa'imi Fairbairn, UCLA
Holder of the YearPeter Mortell, Minnesota
Play of the YearMichigan State over Michigan; final punt play
Chuck Bednarik AwardTyler Matakevich, Temple
Maxwell AwardDerrick Henry, Alabama
ESPN broadcast

While the evening was all about the awards, the broadcast had some fun at the start when it joked about Stanford's Christian McCaffrey's ability to do everything, as ESPN College Football shared:

The first trophy handed out was the Davey O'Brien Award for the nation's best quarterback. It went to Clemson's Deshaun Watson, who is preparing for the College Football Playoff with his undefeated Tigers. ESPN Stats & Info pointed out he made program history in the process:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Deshaun Watson: 1st @ClemsonFB QB to win Davey O'Brien Award (AP Photo) https://t.co/dFFU21rhrH

Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com remarked on Watson's victory over TCU's Trevone Boykin:

Ivan Maisel @Ivan_Maisel

Consider Deshaun Watson winning the Davey O'Brien Award a mild upset. Fort Worth-based award has more @Big12Conference area voters.

Watson kicked off the evening, but Alabama's Derrick Henry was recognized as the Walter Camp National Player of the Year before the broadcast, per Dan Hope of OrangeandWhite.com.

The theme of offensive playmakers continued with the next award when Baylor's Corey Coleman captured the Fred Biletnikoff Award for the nation's best wide receiver. ESPN College Football provided the reasoning behind the decision:

ESPN CollegeFootball @ESPNCFB

Corey Coleman, Baylor, wins the @biletnikoffawrd. Leads FBS w/single-season school-record 20 Rec TD #CFBawards https://t.co/exOoHMg0i4

Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News reflected on what could have been for the Bears:

Tim Griffin @TimGriffinBig12

With Corey Coleman winning the Biletnikoff, I'm still wondering what kind of numbers he could have produced if Seth Russell had been healthy

The evening wasn't only for those who score touchdowns. Utah's Tom Hackett took home the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter. ESPN Stats & Info acknowledged it wasn't the first time:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

.@Utah_Football Tom Hackett wins @RayGuyAward as college football's top punter for 2nd straight season (AP Photo) https://t.co/3RkyACI0se

Hackett turned heads this season when he successfully ran a fake punt against Oregon. The snap was high, and he demonstrated his athleticism by leaping up and catching it and then running for a first down. Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer passed along Hackett's quote when discussing that play:

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

“Deep down, I’m fat. And I don’t like running.” — Tom Hackett, the embodiment of #PuntersArePeopleToo

ESPN's Joe Schad reacted to the joke:

Joe Schad @schadjoe

Utah punter Tom Hackett is one of the funniest people I have ever met in my life. Won the Ray Guy Award again.

Following Hackett's amusing victory, Clemson's Dabo Swinney won the Home Depot Coach of the Year.

The first half of the award show was dedicated to recognizing greatness on the field, but things were put in perspective when Concordia-St. Paul defensive end Hank Goff was given the Disney Spirit Award. Austin Murphy of Sports Illustrated profiled the heroic college football player, who was once a Marine machine-gunner, in detail:

He saw some bad things. Hank’s regiment, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., deployed to the Helmand province of Afghanistan in April 2008. Over the next eight months, the “War Dogs” were hit harder than any American unit in that conflict. Of the battalion’s one thousand Marines, 20 were killed and 160 wounded, with 30 of those amputees. The story gets sadder. In the six years since the end of that tour, the number of 2/7 Marines to commit suicide has now exceeded by one the number killed in Afghanistan.

Murphy also noted that "When Hank was slipping into darkness, football gave him joy. It provided structure and purpose and a refuge, a place to go and not think about what he saw in the war." Trenise Ferreira of Disney Sports commented on Goff:

Trenise Ferreira @TreniseFerreira

Had the pleasure of choosing this year's #DisneySpirtAward winner, Hank Goff. A veteran Marine, he creditsCFB with saving his life.

Goff deservedly received the biggest ovation of the evening. Following his story, the broadcast shifted back to the football recognition, when Henry took home the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back. Kevin McGuire of CollegeFootballTalk brought up everyone's midseason favorite for the award as Henry accepted the trophy:

Kevin McGuire @KevinOnCFB

Hey, remember Leonard Fournette?

Running backs need offensive linemen to open holes, and few did that better than Stanford's Joshua Garnett. As a result, he was awarded the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman, and the trophy's representatives congratulated him on Twitter:

Outland Trophy @outlandtrophy

Here he is!! Your 2015 Outland Trophy winner @IamJoshG!! Be sure to follow us and show him some love! #GoAllOutland https://t.co/cm0AFn55Kc

Defense finally got the chance to shine after Garnett's win when Iowa's Desmond King was honored with the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the country. Derek Young of Scout.com shared King's quote during his post-award interview:

Derek Young @DYoungRivals

"If they keep (throwing it my way), it's going to keep getting intercepted" - #Iowa #Hawkeyes CB Desmond King

From there, ESPN showed a graphic with a number of other award winners (which can all be seen in the table above), and Barry Switzer was recognized with the NCFAA Contributions to College Football Award following a 157-29-4 record as Oklahoma's head coach from 1973 to 1988.

Special teams also got their shine when UCLA's Ka'imi Fairbairn won the Lou Groza Award as the best kicker and Minnesota's Peter Mortell was awarded with the Holder of the Year in tongue-in-cheek fashion. Mortell's recognition was a response to this humorous tweet he sent out on Dec. 1:

Peter Mortell @PMortell1

"Your hands are too slow" they said. "Your cadence has no rhythm" they said. This one's for the state of Minnesota. https://t.co/HkgGRK0aL1

Perhaps Michigan could have used some of that special teams magic when it lost to Michigan State on the incredible dropped punt snap in the final seconds. It won Play of the Year and helped propel the Spartans into the College Football Playoff. ESPN College Football shared the highlight:

ESPN CollegeFootball @ESPNCFB

RT if you think the Michigan State last second TD vs Michigan should be the #PlayoftheYear. https://t.co/50zkxrC1iF

The broadcast shifted to some of the major awards after the Play of the Year, and Temple's Tyler Matakevich won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's best defensive player. NFL star and former Temple player Terrance Knighton provided a shoutout:

Terrance Knighton @MisterRoast98

Shoutout to @44_Matakevich !!! Represent brother 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾 ! Temple all day

On the offensive side, Henry captured yet another honor when he won the Maxwell Award as the nation's best overall player. SportsCenter pointed out it has been quite some time since a running back took home the trophy:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Derrick Henry becomes the 1st RB since 2002 (Larry Johnson) to win the Maxwell Award as the nation's best player. https://t.co/OSWXFy3Wcq

A running back hasn't won the Heisman Trophy since Mark Ingram did so in 2009. Perhaps Henry's victory Thursday is a sign of things to come for the Alabama superstar as his attention shifts to Saturday's Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Stanford's McCaffrey and Clemson's Watson will join him in hopes of taking home college football's most prestigious individual award.


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