With the NFL Scouting Combine recently finished, we’ll take a quick re-cap of the major D-I College Football Conferences awards.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: QB JOE BURROW, LSU
SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year was LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. No real surprise here. Burrow threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns. He led his team through an undefeated season and a National Championship.
He won every notable award there is in Div I FBS football: the Heisman, the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, the Davey O’Brien Award (National Quarterback of the Year), the Manning Award (National Quarterback of the Year), the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and was also named AP National Player of the Year.
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DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DT DERRICK BROWN, AUBURN
Brown would have surely been a first round pick if he would have come out as a junior. Instead, he decided to return to Auburn for his senior season. He has parlayed that decision into a top-10 selection in this April’s NFL Draft.
He was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year after posting 55 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and four sacks during the 2019 season.
Along with All-SEC and All-American honors, Brown won the 2019 Lott IMPACT Trophy, which goes to the defensive player who has the biggest IMPACT (Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity).
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Alabama is a team loaded with playmakers, and sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is one that made a significant mark in 2019. In the 2019 Iron Bowl, he recorded 230 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns — three coming through the air and one resulting from an electric 98-yard kickoff return.
Waddle is said to be as fast as departing teammate Henry Ruggs. Ruggs recently ran a sub 4.3 at the NFL Scouting Combine. Waddle’s speed helped his win the SEC Special Team’s Player of the Year award. He led the nation averaging 24.35 yards per punt return, including a 77-yard touchdown against LSU.
Note: Last year, Waddle was named the SEC Freshman of the Year. Can’t wait to see what kind of break-out season he’ll have in the 2020 season.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: QB Bo Nix, Auburn
Last spring, Nix was caught in a heated quarterback competition at Auburn. The Tigers didn’t declare who had won the job until shortly prior to the opening of the season. The win the job, Nix had to be out the highly touted Joey Gatewood and Malik Willis, who had spent the previous two seasons as a back-up to Jarret Stidham.
In the end, Head Coach Gus Malzahn picked the right guy for the job: Bo Nix. While Nix had his moments where he looked like a true freshman, he also had moments where he flashed and you would think, “Wow, he’s going to be special.”
On his way to earning the SEC Freshman of the Year award, Nix threw for 2,542 yards and 16 touchdowns (both Auburn freshman records), while rushing for 313 yards and scoring 7 more TDs on the ground.
SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: RODRIGO BLANKENSHIP, GEORIGA
Blankenship graduated Cum Laude (3.71 GPA) in December 2018 with a degree in Digital and Broadcast Journalism. The 2019 Academic All-American was a 2018 winner of the Billy Payne Award for graduating with at least a 3.0 GPA and being on the football team for four years.
On the field, Blankenship was the winner of the 2019 Lou Groza Award while scoring a school record 440 points in his career.
JACOBS BLOCKING TROPHY: LT ANDREW THOMAS, GEORGIA
Thomas has anchored a Georgia offensive line that has allowed an SEC-leading 0.92 sacks per game. The Bulldogs are No. 5 in the conference in rushing offense, averaging 189.5 yards per game.
SEC COACH OF THE YEAR: ED ORGERON, LSU
Orgeron led his team to an exciting 15-0 record. Along the way they beat No. 9 ranked Texas, No. 7 ranked Florida, No. 9 ranked Auburn, No. 3 ranked Alabama, No. 5 ranked Georgia, No. 4 ranked Oklahoma, and No. 2 ranked Clemson.
Orgeron said after winning the National Championship, “Now, I think that this team is going to be mentioned as one of the greatest teams in college football history.”
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