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2019 College Football Season Awards

Matt Rhule, Coach of the Year
College football seasons always seem to fly by, and the 2019 campaign was no exception. It seems like just yesterday Miami and Florida were kicking off the season but after three months, the regular season is officially over. Bowl games and the Playoff will still provide us excitement, but with the season closed, it is time to hand out awards for the season.

Projected National Champion: Ohio State Buckeyes
I don't think you can go wrong picking any of the four Playoff teams, even Oklahoma. Ohio State has a tough semifinal test with Clemson, but the way that they are playing on both sides of the ball, I still think is the best all-around team in the nation. You have to be a little bit wary about a beat up Justin Fields at quarterback, but the Buckeyes still have so many ways to attack you. I also think they have the best defense of the four-team field, which should do just enough to take down Joe Burrow and LSU.
Finalists: LSU Tigers, Clemson Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners (Playoff field)

Coach of the Year: Matt Rhule, Baylor
My mid-season Coach of the Year, I think Matt Rhule will win the final edition as well. You can't overlook just how impressive this turnaround in Waco has been, from 1-11 in 2017 to an 11-2 2019. This season also included a near Big 12 Title, as the Bears nearly ended Oklahoma's reign atop the league. Baylor also gets a chance to play once again on a major stage, taking part in the Sugar Bowl against SEC runner-up Georgia. There is talk of Rhule possibly taking his talents pro, but for now, let's just appreciate what he has built at Baylor.
Finalists: Ed Orgeron (LSU), P.J. Fleck (Minnesota), Ryan Day (Ohio State)

Biletnikoff Award (best receiver): Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
First off, I want to say I was absolutely shocked with the finalist list for this award, which didn't include either Omar Bayless or a single Alabama wide out. However, Ja'Marr Chase is still deserving of this honor, leading the nation in receiving yards and being the go-to guy in an explosive LSU Tiger offense. Chase was one of my ten players featured on this spring's "Ten Players Ready for the Sophomore Leap" and he has done just that and more, likely to be the top receiver taken in the 2021 NFL Draft (he isn't eligible this spring).
Finalists: Michael Pittman Jr. (USC), CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)

Doak Walker Award (best RB): Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
Playing at 8-4 Oklahoma State, Chuba Hubbard didn't get much national attention, but he was absolutely dominant in 2019. He led the country in rushing yards, finishing the year with 1,936, while tying for second with 21 rushing touchdowns. He did all that despite operating behind a mediocre offensive line, particularly compared to what Jonathan Taylor ran behind at Wisconsin, or J.K. Dobbins at Ohio State. Hubbard has to be considered a Heisman frontrunner entering 2020, as he isn't eligible to go pro either.
Finalists: Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin), J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State)

Davey O'Brien Award (best QB): Joe Burrow, LSU
The story of the 2019 college football season was LSU's offensive evolution and in turn, Joe Burrow's 2019 season. Burrow decided to transfer from Ohio State and take a leap of faith in the SEC with a Tiger offense that had been mired in the stone ages for years. All he did was set the SEC record for touchdowns and finished second in the nation in yards, all while completing 78 percent of his throws. He is essentially a lock to win the Heisman Trophy, capping off a year that will forever be remembered in Baton Rouge.
Finalists: Justin Fields (Ohio State), Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)

Breakout Player of the Year: Ja'Marr Chase, LSU
I don't think you could go wrong with Joe Burrow or Chuba Hubbard here, but I went Chase because the other two were already pretty established prior to 2019. Chase increased his receiving yardage from 1,200 yards, while increasing his touchdown total by 15. He went from a relatively unknown with potential to an absolute superstar, and Chase seems to only be getting better. It will be fascinating to see what he can be with even more time under his belt.
Finalists: Chuba Hubbard (Oklahoma State), Joe Burrow (LSU), Omar Bayless (Arkansas State), Kenneth Gainwell (Memphis)

Freshman of the Year: Sam Howell, North Carolina
A major recruiting win for Mack Brown and the Tar Heels, Sam Howell did not disappoint in his first season in Chapel Hill. He was a leading force in the UNC resurgence this fall, as he finished the year with 3,347 passing yards and 36 total touchdowns, both ranking in the Top 15 nationally. He also kept his turnovers pretty limited, which is extremely impressive for a true freshman, as he had just seven interceptions. Howell capped it all off with a 401-yard, 3 TD domination of the Heels' big rival, NC State.
Finalists: Jayden Daniels (QB, Arizona State), Dillon Gabriel (QB, UCF), Gregory Rosseau (DL, Miami), Derek Stingley Jr. (CB, LSU)

Chuck Bednarik Award (Defensive Player of the Year): Chase Young, Ohio State
Even though he missed two games due to a suspension, Chase Young put together the most dominant defensive season we've seen in college football since Tyrann Matheiu in 2011. Young faced double and triple teams all season long, and still ended up as the FBS leader with 16.5 sacks. That number included some incredible individual performances, such as his three-sack game against Penn State, and his four sacks against Wisconsin in their regular season matchup. In addition to all the sacks, Young was quietly a turnover machine, forcing six fumbles on the season. I'd be shocked if he wasn't the first non-QB taken off the board in this spring's NFL Draft.
Finalists: Isaiah Simmons (Clemson), Derrick Brown (Auburn)

Jim Thorpe Award: Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
While Chase Young was causing chaos up front, it was Jeffrey Okudah who was cleaning things up in the back for the Big Ten Champion Buckeyes. Okudah would finish the season with 30 tackles, seven pass deflections and three interceptions. He was absolutely instrumental in an Ohio State defense that allowed just 12.5 points per game. I'll give Okudah the nod over the other two SEC finalists, although Grant Delpit and J.R. Reed are right there.
Finalists: Grant Delpit (LSU), J.R. Reed (Georgia)

Transfer of the Year: Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma (unofficial award)
Jalen Hurts made history this past weekend when he officially became the first player in college football history to make the Playoff with two separate teams. He has put together a marvelous finale to his illustrious collegiate career, with nearly 5,000 yards of total offense and 51 total touchdowns. Hurts has brought over from Alabama the ability to close out big games, leading a thrilling comeback over Baylor, and then taking down the Bears once again in the Big 12 Championship. It will be fascinating to see what he can do in the CFB Playoff against LSU, a team he is undefeated against in his career.
Finalists: Shane Buechele (QB, SMU), Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State), Jonathan Greenard (LB, Florida), Oluwole Betiku (DE, Illinois)

Heisman: Joe Burrow, LSU
It would be an absolute shock if anybody not named Joe Burrow took home the Heisman this season. He has been the best player on the nation's best team, and his play in huge games against Alabama, Auburn and Georgia give him a whole bunch of Heisman moments to choose from. The race is really for second place here. My pick? Justin Fields, who put together a 50-1 TD-INT ratio while leading a loaded Ohio State squad.
Finalists: Justin Fields (Ohio State), Chase Young (Ohio State), Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)

Other Minor Award Picks
Broyles Award (best assistant): Joe Brady, LSU
John Mackey Award (best TE): Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
Lou Groza Award (best K): Keith Duncan, Iowa
Outland Trophy (best interior linemen): Penei Sewell, Oregon
Paul Hornung Award (most versatile): Lynn Bowden Jr., Kentucky
Ray Guy Award (best punter): Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse
Rimington Trophy (best center): Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
Ted Hendricks Award (best DE): Chase Young, Ohio State
Group of Five Heisman: Jarrett Patterson, Buffalo

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