Tuck: College Football’s Best of 2012

Chuck Bednarik Award
College Defensive Player of the Year

Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)
Jarvis Jones (Georgia)
Manti Te’o (Notre Dame)

My pick: Manti Te’o.  The question is more legit perhaps than the answer.  Te’o being the team leader of arguably the best defense in the country for arguably the best team in the country makes him the obvious choice.  The 7 interceptions he has (2nd best in the country) doesn’t hurt his case either.

Biletnikoff Award
Nation’s Outstanding Receiver

Stedman Bailey (West Virginia)
Marqise Lee (USC)
Terrance Williams (Baylor)

My pick: Marqise Lee. Lee will likely finish in the top 5 of the Heisman voting with good reason.  After being a freshman All-American last year, he raised his game to a level where he is one of the rare true sophomores that is NFL-ready.

Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award
Nation’s Outstanding Placekicker

Dustin Hopkins (FSU)
Cairo Santos (Tulane)
Caleb Sturgis (Florida)

My pick: Dustin Hopkins. Don’t laugh, but this might be the toughest category to pick.  Santos didn’t miss a FG this season (21/21).  Hopkins and Sturgis certainly kicked with more pressure at their schools.  I go with the guy with the biggest leg.

Ray Guy Award
Nation’s Outstanding Punter

Ryan Allen (La Tech)*
Kyle Christy (Florida)
Scott Kovanda (Ball State)

My pick: Ryan Allen.  He won last year and led the nation in punting average this season.  He had an 85 yard punt to boot.

Maxwell Award
College Player of the Year

Collin Klein (Kansas State)
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
Manti Te’o (Notre Dame)

My pick: Johnny Manziel.  Led the SEC in passing yards per game and rushing yards per game.  Led the conference in rushing TD’s as well.  He is one of just five players in history to throw for 3000 and rush for 1000.  The best player in America in 2012.

Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award
Nation’s Best Quarterback

Collin Klein (Kansas State)
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
Braxton Miller (Ohio State)

My pick: Johnny Manziel.  Miller had an unbeaten season and Klein led K-State to an 11-1 Big XII Title and both are equally valuable to their team, but Manziel is better than either.

Outland Trophy
Nation’s Outstanding
Interior Lineman

Jonathan Cooper (UNC)
Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M)
Barrett Jones (Alabama)*

My pick: Luke Joeckel.  Considered the best offensive linemen available by most pundits for the upcoming NFL Draft and a likely top ten pick.

Jim Thorpe Award
Nation’s Outstanding
Defensive Back

Johnthan Banks (Mississippi State)
Dee Milliner (Alabama)
Phillip Thomas (Fresno State)

My pick: Dee Milliner.  Tested early in the season, and not much after that realizing he could lock down an entire side to the field and is big part of why the Tide’s defense is so good.

John Mackey Award

Outstanding Tight End

Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame)
Zach Ertz (Stanford)

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington)

My pick: Tyler Eifert.  The top pass receiving threat for the Irish offense and was a reason they won more than one game this season with big 4th quarter catches and touchdowns.

Doak Walker Award
Nation’s Outstanding
Running Back

Montee Ball (Wisconsin)
Kenjon Barner (Oregon)
Johnathan Franklin (UCLA)

My pick: Kenjon Barner.  He was actually only third in total rushing yards of this group, but he wins for a few reasons.  First, he had the fewest carries and barely touched the ball in second halves all season (only 34 4th quarter carries all season).  Second, he led in touchdowns with 21 in 12 games despite those limitations.  Third, he averaged 6.5 yards per carry, the most of the group.  And finally, he was the best player of the bunch this season.