A college football player has claimed the past two Sullivan Awards, one of the most prestigious honors in amateur athletics. In going for three straight, the sport will have a quartet of opportunities to extend what would be a first-of-its-kind streak.
Monday, a total of 16 semifinalists for the 2016 Sullivan Award were announced. Of those 16, four are current or former college football players — Alabama running back Derrick Henry, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Henry, who opted to leave the Tide early for the NFL, was the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner while McCaffrey and Watson, who will be juniors in 2016, were second and third, respectively, in the Heisman voting. Reynolds put the finishing touches on what will be a Hall of Fame career by becoming the all-time FBS leader in total touchdowns.
Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott was the 2015 winner of the Sullivan, while Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel claimed the 2014 honor. Six other college football players have earned an honor handed out annually since 1930: Felix “Doc” Blanchard (Army, 1945), Arnold Tucker (Army, 1946), Charlie Ward (Florida State, 1993), Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Andrew Rodriguez (Army, 2011)
The remaining dozen semifinalists for the 87th Sullivan are Andrew Benintendi (Arkansas baseball), Ben Simmons (LSU basketball), Nirra Fields (UCLA basketball), Kelsey Minato (Army basketball), Breanna Stewart (UConn basketball), Mikaela Foecke (Nebraska volleyball), Ashleigh Johnson (USA Water Polo), Jordan Burroughs (USA Wrestling), Adeline Gray (USA Wrestling), Jamie Greubel Poser (USA Bobsled), Jordan Wilimovsky (USA Swimming), Brittany Bowe (USA Speed skating) and Simone Biles (USA Gymnastics).