Asmussen: Predicting the college football award landscape

Asmussen: Predicting the college football award landscape

The names won’t be etched on the trophies for six more months. But the initial thoughts are starting to form now.

On Monday, the first three of 16 watch lists were released for college football’s national awards.

And the 16 doesn’t count the Heisman Trophy, which has its own preseason hype rules.

First up were the Bednarik, Hornung and Maxwell awards. The watch lists for the Mackey and Rimington will be unveiled today.

Your humble columnist will vote for several of these awards. Realizing it is never too early to start your homework, here is an extremely premature look at what will happen in 2014. Please, don’t count on any of these being correct.

Bednarik Award — Favorite: Leonard Williams, Southern Cal. Also consider:  Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon; Vic Beasley, Clemson
Williams and Olomu were semifinalists last year and are set up for big seasons. The new coaching staff with the Trojans will keep Williams busy.

Maxwell — Favorite: Jameis Winston, Florida State. Also consider: Braxton Miller, Ohio State; Marcus Mariota, Oregon.
Call this the Mini Heisman or Heisman Lite. Last year, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron was the winner. Heavy emphasis on winning.

Hornung Award — Favorite: Myles Jack, UCLA. Also consider: Tommylee Lewis, Northern Illinois; Ryan Switzer, North Carolina.
The award goes to college football’s most versatile player. That was Hornung back in the day. Jack plays on both sides of the ball, a huge advantage when it comes to the award. Illini defensive back V’Angelo Bentley made the initial watch list.

Mackey — Favorite: Nick O’Leary, Florida State. Also consider: Tyler Boyd, Pitt; O.J. Howard, Alabama.
O’Leary was a finalist last year. And you know the voters want to give the award to Jack Nicklaus’ grandson. But he is more than a golfer’s relative. He is a popular target for Winston.

Rimington — Favorite: Reese Dismukes, Auburn. Also consider: Hroniss Grasu, Oregon; B.J. Finney, Kansas State.
Dismukes was a finalist in 2013. So was Grasu. Watch the rushing totals this season to see which guy takes the upper hand.

Groza — Favorite: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State. Also consider: Andy Phillips, Utah; Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma.
Aguayo will try to win the award for the second year in a row. The Seminoles figure to give him plenty of chances to kick, both field goals and extra points.

Ray Guy — Favorite: Drew Kaser, Texas A&M. Also consider: Tommy Hibbard, North Carolina; Austin Rehkow, Idaho.
Kaser is a returning finalist from 2013. And they value punting in College Station.

Bronko Nagurski — Favorite: Landon Collins, Alabama. Also consider: Denzel Perryman, Miami; Michael Bennett, Ohio State.
None of the finalists return from last season. Nick Saban knows how to use his safeties and turn them into household names.

Outland — Favorite: Cameron Erving, Florida State. Also consider: Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; A.J. Cann, South Carolina.
The Seminoles should dominate most of the early award projections, just like they dominated the 2013 season.

Thorpe — Favorite: Collins, Alabama. Also consider: Olomu, Oregon; Cody Prewitt, Mississippi.
Interceptions help with this award. So does reputation.

Butkus — Favorite: Ramik Wilson, Georgia. Also consider: Perryman, Miami; A.J. Johnson, Tennessee.
Check out last year’s list of finalists, including early draftee Khalil Mack.
Lombardi — Favorite: Williams, Southern Cal. Also consider; Tre’ Jackson, Florida State; Randy Gregory, Nebraska.
Last year’s finalists are all making a lot of money getting paid to play.

Biletnikoff — Favorite: Amari Cooper, Alabama. Also consider: Antwan Goodley, Baylor; Rashad Greene, Florida State.
Two of last year’s finalists went early in the NFL draft. That ought to be the case again this year, too. Loads of talent at the position, and it isn’t limited to the power conferences.

Davey O’Brien — Favorite: Winston, Florida State.  Also consider: Bryce Petty, Baylor; Miller, Ohio State.
As long as the Seminoles keep winning, no way anybody but Winston takes home the trophy. In fact, just give it to him now.

Doak Walker — Favorite: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin. Also consider: Todd Gurley, Georgia; Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska.
Looks like this one is coming back to the Big Ten. But don’t overlook Alabama’s T.J Yeldon.

Walter Camp — Favorite: Winston, Florida State. Also consider: Gurley, Georgia; Mariota, Oregon.
The Mini, Mini Heisman.

Bob Asmussen writes three columns a week for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at 217-351-5233 or by email at

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