Top college football award winner predictions

Published 11:01 pm Friday, August 10, 2018

The Associated Press

Stanford running back Bryce Love’s decision to return for his senior year instantly made him a preseason front-runner for some of college football’s top individual awards.
Love won the Doak Walker Award as college football’s top running back and was runner-up in the Heisman Trophy balloting last year as he rushed for 2,118 yards. He’s an obvious candidate for both awards again this year, even though he will have a tough time matching his production from last season.
“I had a good chance to talk with Bryce, to talk about (how) this year can’t be about stats,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “He broke a lot of records last year, did some phenomenal things last year. This year’s about him getting bigger, stronger, being more versatile, different things, adding to his game. We’re not going to do the Bryce Love stat watch.”
Love is among several players to enter the season as contenders to earn hardware this season. Here’s a rundown of potential candidates for some of college football’s top individual awards.
HEISMAN TROPHY (top overall player)
— Bryce Love, Stanford
His 2,118 yards rushing last season ranked second among all Football Bowl Subdivision players , behind only Seattle Seahawks first-round draft pick and former San Diego State star Rashaad Penny.
— Khalil Tate, Arizona
As a versatile quarterback who can beat defenses with his arm and legs, Tate fits the profile of many other recent Heisman winners.
— Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Taylor finished sixth in the Heisman balloting last year and set an NCAA freshman record by rushing for 1,977 yards.
DAVEY O’BRIEN (top quarterback)
— Will Grier, West Virginia
Grier threw for 317.3 yards per game last season and was the media’s choice as Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year.
— McKenzie Milton, Central Florida
Milton finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting last year while leading UCF to a perfect season.
— Khalil Tate, Arizona
Tate rushed for 327 yards in one game last season and ran for over 200 yards in two other contests.
DOAK WALKER (top running back)
— J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
Dobbins rushed for 1,403 yards and gained 7.2 yards per carry as a freshman last season
— Bryce Love, Stanford
Love will try to join former Texas star Ricky Williams and former Arkansas standout Darren McFadden as a two-time winner of this award.
— Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Taylor was one of three finalists for this award last year.
BILETNIKOFF (top receiver)
— A.J. Brown, Mississippi
Brown caught 75 passes for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns last year as an AP All-America third-team selection.
— N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Harry had 82 catches for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns a year ago.
— David Sills, West Virginia
Sills caught 18 touchdown passes last season to tie for the FBS lead and was a finalist for this award.
OUTLAND (top interior lineman)
— Ed Oliver , Houston
Oliver won this trophy last year and also was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy given to the nation’s top defensive player.
— Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Clemson’s defensive line is so fearsome that all four of its projected starters made the preseason all-Atlantic Coast Conference team.
— Jonah Williams, Alabama
Williams will try to become the fourth Alabama player in the last 11 years, joining Andre Smith (2008), Barrett Jones (2011) and Cam Robinson (2016).
BEDNARIK /NAGURSKI (separate awards given to the top defensive player)
— Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Bosa earned second-team AP All-America honors last season and had 16 tackles for loss plus eight sacks.
— Raekwon Davis, Alabama
An Alabama player has won the last two Bednarik Awards (Jonathan Allen in 2016 and Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2017) and one of the last two Nagurski Trophy honors (Allen in 2016).
— Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
Ferrell was a first-team AP All-American who collected 18 tackles for loss and 9 1/2 sacks last year.
BUTKUS (top linebacker)
— Devin Bush, Michigan
Bush was a Butkus Award finalist and third-team AP All-American last year.
— T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin
Edwards was a Butkus Award finalist and first-team AP All-American last year.
— Devin White, LSU
White had 133 tackles last season, including 14 for loss.
JIM THORPE (top defensive back)
— Deandre Baker, Georgia
Baker had nine pass breakups last season to go along with three interceptions.
— Jaquan Johnson, Miami
Johnson had a team-high 96 tackles and tied for the team lead with four interceptions last season.
— Andraez “Greedy” Williams, LSU
Williams picked off six passes and earned third-team AP All-America honors as a redshirt freshman last season.
JOHN MACKEY (top tight end)
— Noah Fant, Iowa
He’s coming off a 2017 season in which he scored 11 touchdowns.
— Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
As a redshirt freshman last season, he had 11 touchdown catches to tie for the SEC lead .
— Caleb Wilson, UCLA
Wilson caught 38 passes for 490 yards in only five games last year before a foot injury shut him down for the rest of the season.

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