College football recognized its best on Thursday at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN. Here’s how the whole thing shook out, starting with the awards concerning this season’s Heisman Trophy finalists.
Maxwell Award (player of the year): Caleb Williams, USC
Other finalists: Hendon Hooker, Tennessee; CJ Stroud, Ohio State
Walter Camp Player of the Year: Caleb Williams, USC
Other finalists: Max Duggan, TCU; Hendon Hooker, Tennessee; CJ Stroud, Ohio State; Blake Corum, Michigan
Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback): Max Duggan, TCU
Other finalists: CJ Stroud, Ohio State; Caleb Williams, USC
The Maxwell Award winner has gone on to win the Heisman Trophy in eight of the last nine seasons, so Williams appears to be where the tea leaves are pointing in New York. Sure, he ended poorly (with injury being a factor), but his 4,075 passing yards, 37 touchdowns, four interceptions, 372 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns speak for themselves.
Of course, Duggan presents a similar dynamic, and got one of the night’s other major awards.
Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player): Will Anderson Jr., Alabama
Other finalists: Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati; Tuli Tuipulotu, USC
Will Anderson Jr.’s stats took a step backward pretty much across the board this year after a historically great sophomore season. He was still judged to be the best defensive player in college football. Widely considered a likely top 5 prospect in the 2023 NFL draft, Anderson has now won a national championship, the Bednarik Award, the Bronco Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-American honors in three seasons with the Crimson Tide.
Doak Walker Award (best running back): Bijan Robinson, Texas
Other finalists: Chase Brown, Illinois; Blake Corum, Michigan
No running back combined production and efficiency against Power Five opponents quite like Robinson this season. He posted 1,580 rushing yards on 258 attempts (averaging 6.1 yards per carry) with 18 touchdowns on the ground, plus 314 receiving yards and two touchdowns through the air. He will likely be coming to a fantasy football lineup near you next season.
Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver): Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
Other finalists: Marvin Harrison, Jr., Ohio State, Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State
If you want big plays from your wide receiver, Hyatt was your guy this season. He is tied for the lead among all FBS wide receivers in touchdowns with 15 this season, plus 1,267 receiving yards on 67 catches. More than half of those touchdowns were on throws of more than 20 yards, per Pro Football Focus.
Outland Trophy (best lineman): Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan
Other finalists: Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh; Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Michigan has been able to not only slay, but dominate its Ohio State dragon over the last two seasons by winning in the trenches. Much of the reason for that is Oluwatimi, a former transfer from Virginia who allowed zero sacks in pass protection this season, per Pro Football Focus.
Rimington Trophy (best center): Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan
Other finalists: Brett Neilon, USC; John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota
If you are the nation’s best offensive or defensive lineman, you are also probably its top center. Who knew?
Butkus Award (best linebacker): Jack Campbell, Iowa
Other finalists: Drew Sanders, Arkansas; Jamon Dumas-Johnson, Georgia; Daiyan Henley, Washington State; Ivan Pace Jr. (Cincinnati)
Campbell was the beating heart of an Iowa defense that carried the Hawkeyes to a 7-5 record despite an infamously inept offense. In 12 games, he posted 115 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions.
Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back): Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU
Other finalists: Clark Phillips III, Utah; Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
If you want to go undefeated in the Big 12, in the regular season at least, you need to be able to stop the conference’s passing attacks. Having a guy who allowed a 38.9 passer rating, best in the conference per PFFplus three interceptions and 11 passes defended, certainly helped.
John Mackey Award (best tight end): Brock Bowers, Georgia
Other finalists: Michael Mayer, Notre Dame; Sam LaPorta, Iowa
This might be a bit of a snub (Mayer had better receiving stats this year), but Bowers has looked like a freak from basically the moment he stepped onto the field as a freshman for Georgia, accruing 108 catches, 1,608 receiving yards and 19 receiving touchdowns (plus four scores on the ground) in 28 total games. Now we wait and see if he makes it two national championships in two seasons.
Home Depot Coach of the Year: Sonny Dykes, TCU
No team’s path to the College Football Playoff was more incredible to watch than 12-1 TCU’s this season, even with its disappointing Big 12 championship loss. Not a bad way to endear yourself to the fanbase, as Dykes took over the program after a five-year stint at nearby SMU.
Lou Groza Award (best kicker): Christopher Dunn, NC State
Other finalists: Joshua Karty, Stanford; Jake Moody, Michigan
Dunn made 24 of 25 field goals and 30 of 30 extra points this season, with his longest kick coming in at 53 yards. Making all but one of your kicks is a very good way to win a kicking award.
Ray Guy Award (best punter): Adam Korsak, Rutgers
Other finalists: Mason Fletcher, Cincinnati; Bryce Barringer, Michigan State
You want some punting stats? Korsak averaged 44.0 yards per punt with an FBS-best 32 landed inside the 20-yard line with only two touchbacks in 75 punts. Opponents only returned eight punts of his, with a total of -11 return yards. Now those are some punting stats.
Wuerffel Trophy (community service): Dillan Gibbons, Florida State
Other finalists: Tanner Morgan, Minnesota; Patrick Fields, Stanford
Gibbons’ non-profit foundation helped raise nearly $500,000 for people in need by partnering with collegiate ambassadors. He also earned All-ACC honors and the Jim Tatum Award as the ACC’s top senior football scholar-athlete.