The college football world gathered in Atlanta on Thursday night as nearly a dozen of the sport’s most prestigious awards were handed out from the College Football Hall of Fame.
While a few of the winners were announced before the televised ceremony, here were the players who took home some hardware at the annual awards show:
Walter Camp Player of the Year — Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson
Maxwell Award as national player of the year — Lamar Jackson
Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year — Alabama’s Jonathan Allen
Davey O’Brien Award for best quarterback — Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (his second in a row)
Doak Walker Award as best running back — Texas’ D’Onta Foreman
Biletnikoff Award for best receiver — Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook
Outland Trophy for outstanding interior lineman — Alabama’s Cam Robinson
Rimington Trophy for best center — Ohio State’s Pat Elflein
Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back — USC’s Adoree’ Jackson
Lou Groza Award for outstanding place kicker — Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez
Ray Guy Award for best punter — Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky
John Mackey Award for outstanding tight end — Michigan’s Jake Butt
Butkus Award for best linebacker – Alabama’s Reuben Foster
Wuerffel Trophy for community service — Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight
Home Depot Coach of the Year — Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre
Jabrill Peppers is the most versatile player in college football. Not surprisingly, an award that rewards versatility will soon be sitting on the Michigan standout’s shelf.
Wednesday morning, the Louisville Sport Commission announced that Peppers has been named as the winner of the 2016 Paul Hornung Award. The award is handed out annually to the nation’s most versatile college football player.
There were three other finalists for the award: Stanford running back and 2015 Hornung winner Christian McCaffrey, USC defensive back Adoree Jackson and Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
“It means a lot to me to win this award,” said Peppers in a statement. “You definitely want to do as much as possible, and you want to do it as well as you can. I think there are a lot of guys who could have won this award, so it’s just a tremendous honor to be the winner and to represent the Paul Hornung Award. I’m just going to keep to trying to get better, keep working on my faults and do whatever I have to do to help my team.”
Peppers, the first Wolverine to claim this honor, played 933 snaps in 12 games this season — 726 on defense, 53 on offense and 154 on special teams. Most impressively, Peppers played those 933 snaps at 15 different positions.
Earlier this week, Peppers was named as one of five Heisman finalists. It’s expected Peppers will leave Michigan early for the NFL, where he’s widely projected to be one of the first 10 players selected in the April draft.
A lengthy and protracted legal battle has seen yet another development.
Tuesday morning, The Oklahoman writes, “[t]he Oklahoma Supreme Court… ruled a surveillance video of Sooner running back Joe Mixon‘s punch must be released.” The Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters had sued for the video’s release.
In mid-August of 2014, Mixon was suspended by Oklahoma for the entire 2014 season, a punitive measure that meant the running back would be excluded from any and all team activities. The one-year suspension came about after Mixon was accused of punching a woman in a late-July confrontation, breaking four bones in her face and leaving her unconscious. Media covering OU viewed a copy of the security tape that caught the exchange, including the knockout punch, between the woman and Mixon; Mixon’s attorney had previously claimed the altercation was preceded by racial slurs.
The OU hierarchy, including president David Boren, athletic director Joe Castiglione and head football coach Bob Stoops, viewed a copy of the video prior to suspending Mixon.
In late October, a plea deal was reached in the case that helped Mixon avoid a trial. As part of that deal, Mixon was given a one-year deferred sentence, 100 hours of community service and will be required to attend cognitive behavior counseling. In February of last year, Mixon was welcomed back to the Sooners.
Five months ago, the victim of the punch, Amelia Molitor, sued Mixon. Shortly after two-thirds of her lawsuit, Mixon penned a letter of apology to Molitor.
This season, Mixon leads the Sooners in rushing yards (1,183) and is second in receptions (32) and receiving yards (449). His 15 total touchdowns (eight rushing, five receiving, one kick return, one passing) were second on the team.
The Heisman Trophy finalists were announced in a made-for-awkward-television moment during ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown on sight from MetLife Stadium. The Heisman trust revealed a list of five finalists including: Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Described my some (read: yours truly) as Allen Iverson in cleats, Jackson’s slippery explosiveness led to 4,928 yards of total offense and a nation-leading 51 touchdowns responsible for. He is regarded as the overwhelming favorite to win the stiffarm trophy.
Mayfield has thrown for 3,669 yards with 38 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His 197.75 quarterback rating is on pace to break the FBS single-season record, and he pilots an offense that ranks third nationally in scoring and yards per play. Mayfield’s efforts helped Oklahoma win its second straight Big 12 title and complete the first 9-0 run in the league’s 6-year round-robin era.
Peppers is the swiss army knife of a threat for the Wolverines. He ranks second on Michigan’s elite defense in tackles and tackles for loss while also returning punts and kicks and serving as a running back on offense.
Watson has led Clemson to back-to-back ACC championships and College Football Playoff appearances while firing 37 touchdown passes and throwing for 3,914 yards on the year.
Mayfield’s top target, Westbrook recorded 74 receptions for 1,465 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. Westbrook’s inclusion makes Oklahoma the first team to send teammates to New York since Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush did the same for USC in 2005. They’re just the fifth set of teammates to do so overall (Leinart and Bush did so twice.)
That’s also the last time the SEC did not place a player in the top five vote-getters.
The Heisman Trophy ceremony will be held Saturday night in New York.
For the second straight season, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has been named the recipient of the Burlsworth Award. Mayfield is now the first player to win the award two times.
The award is given to college football’s top player who began his career as a walk-on player. Mayfield was originally a walk-on player at Texas Tech before eventually transferring to Oklahoma, where he has emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate and led the Sooners to two consecutive Big 12 championships and one appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Mayfield beat out Washington State quarterback Luke Falk and Northwestern wide receiver Austin Carr for the award. Mayfield will also have a chance to add one more Burlsworth Award to his name next season, as the Sooners passer has already said he will return to Oklahoma for the 2017 season.