It stands to reason that the highest-ranked teams possess a good amount of top-tier talent. If the fine folks at the Walter Camp Foundation can be used as an accurate barometer, that’s certainly the case this year.
Wednesday morning, the Camp Foundation released its 15 semifinalists for the 2014 version of its prestigious Player of the Year award. Included in that group was at least one player each from the top seven teams in the current College Football Playoff Top 25.
- Wide receiver Amari Cooper, quarterback Blake Sims, No. 1 Alabama
- Quarterback Marcus Mariota, No. 2 Oregon
- Quarterback Jameis Winston, No. 3 Florida State
- Quarterback Dak Prescott, No. 4 Mississippi State
- Quarterback Trevone Boykin, No. 5 TCU
- Quarterback J.T. Barrett, No. 6 Ohio State
- Quarterback Bryce Petty, No. 7 Baylor
Winston and Mariota were semifinalists for last year’s award, , while Winston was named a finalist prior to claiming the 2013 Camp trophy. A group of five finalists will be announced Dec. 3, with the 2014 award being presented Dec. 11.
More than half of the 15 semifinalists (eight) are quarterbacks, while two are running backs and two are wide receivers. There are just three defensive players on the list, and just two of them play defense exclusively (Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, Louisville safety Gerod Holliman). The other, Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson, is his team’s second-leading rusher.
OSU’s Barrett is the only freshman, redshirt or otherwise, while there are four sophomores — Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins, Winston, Wright and Holliman. The rest are juniors (seven) and seniors (three).
The ACC, SEC and Pac-12 have three semifinalists each. The Big Ten and Big 12 have two apiece.
Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato and Higgins are the only players from Group of Five conferences to be named a semifinalist.
Just to name a few, among the notable players absent from the list of semifinalists are running backs Tevin Coleman of Indiana and James Conner of Pittsburgh (second and third nationally, respectively, in rushing); wide receivers Nelson Spruce of Colorado, Kevin White of West Virginia and Justin Hardy of East Carolina (first, second and third, respectively, in receptions); Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson (second in pass efficiency); and Utah’s Nate Orchard and Washington’s Hau’Oli Kikana (tied for the lead in most sacks).
Below is the complete list of Camp semifinalists, with statistical notes provided by the foundation.
J.T. BARRETT, RS Freshman, QB, OHIO STATE – Has passed for 2,356 yards and 29 touchdowns for the 9-1 Buckeyes.
TREVON BOYKIN, Junior, QB, TCU – Has passed for 3,201 yards and 24 touchdowns for the 9-1 Horned Frogs.
RAKEEM CATO, Senior, QB, MARSHALL – Has passed for 2,613 yards and 26 touchdowns for the 10-0 Thundering Herd.
AMARI COOPER, Junior, WR, ALABAMA – Has caught 87 passes for 1,303 yards and 11 touchdowns for the 9-1 Crimson Tide.
MELVIN GORDON, Junior, RB, WISCONSIN – Leads nation with 1,909 rushing yards, averaging 8.6 yards a carry, and has scored 23 touchdowns for the 8-2 Badgers.
RASHARD HIGGINS, Sophomore, WR, COLORADO STATE – Has caught 67 passes for 1,280 yards and 13 touchdowns for the 9-1 Rams.
GEROD HOLLIMAN, Sophomore, DB, LOUISVILLE – Leads the nation with 13 interceptions for the 7-3 Cardinals.
DUKE JOHNSON, Junior, RB, MIAMI (FLA) – Has rushed for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns for the 6-4 Hurricanes.
MARCUS MARIOTA, Junior, QB, OREGON – Has passed for 2,780 yards and 29 touchdowns, and has eight rushing touchdowns for the 9-1 Ducks.
BRYCE PETTY, Senior, QB, BAYLOR – Has passed for 2,421 yards and 21 touchdowns for the 8-1 Bears.
DAK PRESCOTT, Junior, QB, MISSISSIPPI STATE – Has passed for 2,521 yards and 20 touchdowns, and has 11 rushing scores for the 9-1 Bulldogs.
BLAKE SIMS, Senior, QB, ALABAMA – Has passed for 2,454 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 9-1 Crimson Tide.
SHAQ THOMPSON, Junior, LB/RB, WASHINGTON – Has 60 tackles and scored four defensive touchdowns, while rushing for 456 yards for the 6-5 Huskies.
JAMEIS WINSTON, Sophomore, QB, FLORIDA STATE – Has passed for 2,844 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 10-0 Seminoles.
SCOOBY WRIGHT, Sophomore, LB, ARIZONA – Has 117 tackles, 21 for losses, and 12 quarterback sacks for the 8-2 Wildcats.