Doak Walker for Best Running Back
Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
A finalist for the Heisman trophy, Richardson rushed for 1,583 yards this season, which was good for No.5 in the nation while leading the SEC. He set a single-season school record for rushing touchdowns with 20 this season, and fits the award mold of the best player on one of the best teams in the nation. His main competition is LaMichael James out of Oregon and Monte Ball from Wisconsin. James led the naiton in rushing this season and is looking to join Ricky Williams and Darren McFadden as the only two time winners of the award. Ball, meanwhile, led the nation in scoring with 32 touchdowns for the Badgers.
Bednarik Award for Best Defensive Player
Dant'a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama
The best player on the best defense in the nation, Hightower is a solid choice for this award. He was the one calling the plays and making the shifts for the nation’s No.1 defense. He also led Alabama in tackling this season with 79, including eight tackles for loss and three sacks. He also recorded his only interception of his career this season against Tennessee. A finalist for many awards this season, Hightower has a chance to win many of them, but the one thing going against him for the Bednarik is the history of the award going to seniors. The last non-senior to take the award was Penn State’s Paul Polslusznay in 2005, the first of two wins for him. If this is the case, watch out for Devon Still, another Penn State senior at Defensive Tackle.
Thorpe Award for Top Defensive Back
David Amerson, Cornerback, North Carolina State
Amerson leads the nation in interceptions this year with 11, getting almost one every game. He only had four games without an interception and had three games in which he recorded two, all of which were wins. He is in the top 10 in the nation in passes defended and had one pick-six against Virginia to seal the game. Only a sophomore, he will have more chances to win the award, which, like Hightower, could hurt him considering that upperclassmen usually take the award. If this is the case, watch out for a pair of SEC defenders to take it in either Mark Barron of Alabama or Morris Claiborne of LSU.
Maxwell Award for Collegiate Player of the Year
Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
Entering the season as the Heisman favorite, Luck put up solid numbers but was never able to take over as the main guy for the award. He passed for 3,170 yards this season, completing 70 percent of his passes. He threw 35 touchdown passes to only nine interceptions this season but never made the leap that was expected of him. Traditionally, the Maxwell Award winner does not win the Heisman Trophy, which doesn’t bode well for Luck, but he still had a season in which he did nothing to lose the award, he just never outright won it either.