2019 Awards Season

Finalists for Nagurski, Outland, Biletnikoff, and more announced

College football awards are narrowing down the candidates for the hardware.
*editors note* this is not a completed list, this article will be updated as more awards finalists are announced

Five finalists for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy – presented annually to the nation’s top defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club – were named on Wednesday.

In alphabetical order, the finalists are: Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Georgia safety J.R. Reed, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy recipient will be chosen from these five finalists. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects the best defensive player in college football.

Here is more information on the 2019 finalists, listed in alphabetical order:
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn (6-5, 318, Sr., Sugar Hill, Ga.): Brown is the rare playmaker tucked in the middle of Auburn’s line. Consistently double-teamed, Brown has still produced 43 tackles that are fourth on the Tigers’ defense along with 9.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, both second on the team. The team captain’s best games have come in November, with seven tackles each against 2nd-ranked LSU and Ole Miss and most recently six against 5th-ranked Georgia. The Ole Miss game was one of three times he earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Brown has 157 career tackles, 30.0 TFL’s and 13.0 sacks, and is the third Auburn player to be a finalist following defensive tackle Nick Fairley (2010) and cornerback Carlos Rogers (2004).

J.R. Reed, S, Georgia (6-1, 194, Gr., Frisco, Texas): Reed has been a constant in the Bulldogs’ secondary with 39 consecutive starts at safety. He is third on the team with 43 tackles and has 2.0 tackles for loss along with a half-sack and has caused and recovered one fumble. He already has his degree in Communications Studies. More than half (23) of his tackles have been solo stops; in last week’s win over Auburn he had five tackles, his second-highest total of the season, all of them solo. Thanks in part to the contributions above as well as one interception, Reed has led Georgia to be the SEC’s top defense in scoring (10.5 points per game, No. 2 nationally), rushing defense (75.5 ypg, No. 3 nationally) and total defense (267.2 ypg, No. 6 nationally). Reed is Georgia’s seventh finalist and second in three seasons (linebacker Roquan Smith in 2017). Champ Bailey, a defensive back, won Georgia’s only previous Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 1998.

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson (6-4, 230, Jr., Olathe, Kan.): One of the nation’s top linebackers and Clemson’s most prolific tacklers (74 on the season), Simmons leads the Tigers in sacks (6.0) and tackles for loss (12.0) with five pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and one recovery. To date Simmons is one of only five FBS players credited with at least 65 tackles, 11.5 TFL’s and 6.0 sacks this season. He has had five games of eight tackles or more. No one has been on the field at Clemson more than Simmons; his 536 snaps played is 69 more (13 percent) than fellow linebacker James Skalski. Simmons is Clemson’s fourth finalist of the last five seasons and its sixth overall. Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2010.

Antoine Winfield Jr., DB, Minnesota (5-10, 205, So., The Woodlands, Texas): Winfield has led the Golden Gophers’ secondary to become one of the country’s best. He leads Minnesota in total tackles (65, 47 solos) and has already tied the school record with seven interceptions that are second nationally and half of a team total 14 that is tied for third nationally and for the Big Ten lead. He is a fourth-year sophomore after receiving a waiver for a sixth year of eligibility upon losing the final eight games of the 2017 and ’18 seasons due to injury. He has a pick-six and two sacks this year. Winfield is Minnesota’s second all-time finalist following defensive back Tyrone Carter in 1999.

Chase Young, DE, Ohio State (6-5, 265, Jr., Upper Marlboro, Md.): The country’s second-leading sack master (13.5) leads a Buckeye defense that gives up only 216.4 yards per game and is 22 yards, or 10 percent, better than the No. 2 team (Clemson, 238.2). The team captain has 15 tackles for loss that are tied for seventh nationally and his 29 total tackles are fifth at Ohio State. He was the Trophy’s National Player of the Week following the weekend of Oct. 26 after he tied career highs with four sacks and five tackles for loss in Ohio State’s 38-7 win over Wisconsin. His combined 193 yards lost on sacks and TFL’s is second in the nation. Young is Ohio State’s first finalist since 2007 and its fourth overall. Linebacker James Laurinaitis won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2006.

The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists. The committee members then select the winner as the best defensive player in college football.

The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be held on Mon., Dec. 9 at the Charlotte Convention Center. This year’s keynote speaker is Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. In addition to the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, former UCLA linebacker Jerry Robinson. The 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy and awards banquet are presented by LendingTree.

The Tallahassee Quarterback Club (TQC) Foundation, Inc., the Florida-based creator and sponsor of the prestigious Biletnikoff Award, announces the finalists for the 2019 Biletnikoff Award. The secure and confidential electronic voting by the distinguished members of the Biletnikoff Award National Selection Committee was conducted from November 19th through November 24th, and certified by a prominent CPA firm.
The Biletnikoff Award annually recognizes the season’s outstanding FBS receiver in college football. Any player, regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back, and running back) who catches a pass is eligible for the award. As such, the Biletnikoff Award recognizes college football’s outstanding receiver, not merely college football’s outstanding wide receiver.

The semifinalists, finalists, and award recipient is selected by the highly distinguished Biletnikoff Award National Selection Committee, a group of prominent college football journalists, commentators, announcers, Biletnikoff Award winners, and other former receivers. Foundation trustees do not vote and have never voted. For a list of voters, please see BiletnikoffAward.com/voters.

The Biletnikoff Award candidate eligibility and voting criteria, transparently explicit and detailed, are available for review at BiletnikoffAward.com/criteria.

The three 2019 Biletnikoff Award finalists are as follows (in alphabetical order):
Ja’Marr Chase LSU
CeeDee Lamb Oklahoma
Michael Pittman Jr. USC

The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner will be presented live on December 12, 2019, at the College Football Hall of Fame on The Home Depot College Football Awards presented by Gildan to be broadcast 7:00 – 9:00pm (EST) on ESPN.

The correlation between Biletnikoff Award winners and stardom in the National Football League is nearly uniformly consistent. Past Biletnikoff Award winners include Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, the late Terry Glenn, and Larry Fitzgerald.
The 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner will be presented the Biletnikoff Award trophy by TQC Foundation Chairman Steve Dobson, III, college and pro football hall of famer Fred Biletnikoff, and the dynamic and inspiring keynoter and college football hall of famer Lou Holtz before 550 patrons at the Biletnikoff Award Banquet at the University Center Club at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee on Saturday, February 15, 2020. The banquet was hailed by 2014 keynote speaker Dick Vermeil, as well as by 2013 keynoter Larry Csonka, as “the best banquet in college sports.”

Two offensive linemen – center Tyler Biadasz of Wisconsin and tackle Penei Sewell of Oregon – and defensive tackle Derrick Brown of Auburn were named as the three finalists for the 2019 Outland Trophy by the the Football Writers Association of America.

The Outland Trophy, presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), is awarded annually to the nation’s best college interior lineman on offense or defense.

NFID is presenting the trophy to help increase awareness about the importance of annual influenza (flu) prevention. Getting vaccinated each year is your best line of defense against the flu.

The All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) selected the three finalists from among the six semifinalists announced last week.

Biadasz is Wisconsin’s fifth finalist – all of them on the offensive line – and its first since since offensive tackle Gabe Carimi won the Outland Trophy in 2010. Wisconsin can also boast the 2006 winner in future Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, and Wisconsin had Biadasz’s former teammate, guard Michael Deiter, among the semifinalists last year. Sewell is Oregon’s second all-time finalist, joining defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in 2005, as the Ducks have yet to claim an Outland winner. Brown is Auburn’s first finalist since center Reese Dismukes in 2014 and its sixth all-time. He is the Tigers’ third defensive tackle to be a finalist, joining 1988 Outland winner Tracy Rocker and Zeke Smith, who won the Outland in 1958.

Former University of Pittsburgh tackle Mark May, the 1980 Outland Trophy winner, is serving as the Outland Trophy #FightFlu ambassador on behalf of NFID. May is making media appearances on behalf of the #FightFlu public awareness campaign to remind everyone six months and older to get an annual flu vaccine.

The recipient of the 74th Outland Trophy will be announced during ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12, live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Outland Trophy Award Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises on Jan. 15, 2020 in Omaha, Neb.

A closer look at each of the finalists:
Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconsin (6-3, 321, Jr., Amherst, Wis.): Biadasz is the latest of outstanding Wisconsin linemen paving the way for record-setting running backs. This season Biadasz has been up front as Johnathan Taylor has become the nation’s leading scorer (22 TD’s) and following a 222-yard effort last week against Purdue, is now the Big Ten’s second all-time leading rusher. Taylor now owns the FBS record for most rushing yards in a three-year span (5,856), which also marks Biadasz’s starting tenure of 38 consecutive starts. The Badgers rushed for a season-high 403 yards against Purdue and finished with a season-high 606 total yards, its highest output since 2014. Biadasz is also strong in pass protection where the line he commands has the Badgers completing 73.5 percent of their passes, third nationally.

Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn (6-5, 318, Sr., Sugar Hill, Ga.): Brown is the rare playmaker tucked in the middle of Auburn’s line. Consistently double-teamed, Brown has still produced 43 tackles that are tied for fourth on the Tigers’ defense along with 9.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks, both second on the team. The team captain’s best games have come in November, with seven tackles each against second-ranked LSU and Ole Miss and most recently six against fifth-ranked Georgia. The Ole Miss game was one of three times he earned the SEC Defensive Player of the Week award. He was also the Trophy’s Defensive Player of the Month for October. Brown has 157 career tackles, 30.0 TFL’s and 13.0 sacks.

Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon (6-6, 325, So., Malaeimi, American Samoa/St. George, Utah): Sewell is regarded as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12 and one of the two best offensive tackles in the country. In short, he’s the best lineman on the nation’s best offensive line – an Oregon lineman has taken seven of the Pac-12’s 11 Offensive Lineman of the Week awards, and Sewell has three of those seven. Head coach Mario Christobal says he’s the best lineman he’s ever coached. Sewell was the Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month for September and leads Oregon with 45 knockdowns blocking for an Oregon offense that is 21st nationally at 460.2 yards per game. He has five or more knockdowns in five of 11 games. Run-blocking is his specialty but he has yielded only six QB pressures this season and one sack.

The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest major college football award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.

The Augusta Sports Council is pleased to announce the 3 finalists for the 2019 Ray Guy Award. The finalists were chosen from a field of 10 semifinalists by the Ray Guy Award national voting body which consists of FBS sports information directors, sports writers and previous Ray Guy Award winners.

Voters now have the chance to vote again to determine the winner who will be announced live on Thursday, December 12th at The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Ray Guy Award will provide one additional vote as determined by football fans for the Ray Guy Award winner. The Fan Vote is located on the Ray Guy Award website and is equivalent to one national selection committee member’s vote. The vote was included for the selection of the finalists as well.

2019 Ray Guy Award Finalists

  • Dane Roy, Houston
  • Max Duffy, Kentucky
  • Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse

The three finalists for the 10th annual Burlsworth Trophy have been selected and include University of California Running Safety/Kick Returner Ashtyn Davis, University of Georgia Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, and Michigan State Defensive End Kenny Willekes. A record 83 universities from across the nation nominated a player for the 2019 award. Last week the list was narrowed to 10 semi-finalists. The Burlsworth Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding college football player in America who began his career as a walk on. Burlsworth’s life is also the subject of a major motion picture, “GREATER”, which was released nationally in 2016.

The 3 finalists will be honored and the winner of the 2019 Burlsworth Trophy will be announced on December 9th, at 12:45 p.m. at a luncheon in Springdale, Ark. hosted by the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation in conjunction with the Springdale Rotary Club.

Ashtyn Davis, University of California, Safety/Kick Returner, SR — Davis has recorded 47 tackles this season with 27 solo stops. He has also forced two fumbles, intercepted a pass and returned 12 kicks for 149 yards. Davis, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, is a four-time All-American in the 60 meter hurdles indoors and the 110 meter hurdles outdoors. He was a second-team midseason All-American selection by Athlon Sports and The Athletic and Davis is on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation’s most versatile player. Davis walked on the Cal track team and after several unsuccessful attempts to contact the football staff, joined the team in the spring of 2016. He was named first-team All-Pac 12 by the Associated Press, Athlon Sports and Pro Football Focus in 2018, recording 56 tackles and an interception with an 89-yard kick return. Davis was recognized as Cal’s top special team’s player in 2016 and 2017.

Rodrigo Blankenship, University of Georgia, Kicker, SR — Blankenship ranks No. 14 nationally and second in the Southeastern Conference in scoring with 92 points and has hit 100 percent of his extra-point kicks this year for the fourth-ranked Bulldogs (9-1). He has made 19 of 23 field goals attempts this season with a long of 50 yards. Blankenship, who started his career as a preferred walk-on, is the NCAA active career leader in field goals with 72. Blankenship, 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds, has hit six field goals of at least 50 yards in his career and as a sophomore in 2017. That season Blankenship secured a scholarship spot on the team and hit field goals of at least 50 yards in the Rose Bowl and National Championship Game. Blankenship holds the record for longest field goal in Rose Bowl history at 55 yards. He is a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top placekicker.

Kenny Willekes, Michigan State University, Defensive End, SR — Willekes, a preseason All-America selection and last year’s Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, has 59 tackles this season with 24 solo tackles, including 6.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Willekes was named Defensive Player of the Week by the Big Ten and the Walter Camp Football Foundation after recording seven tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks against Tulsa earlier this season. Willekes, named a Burlsworth semifinalist in 2018, did not receive scholarship offers from any Division I schools. He was invited to walk-on at Michigan State, where he redshirted as a true freshman in 2015. Willekes was named a mid-season All-American by Rivals.com in 2019. Willekes, 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, suffered a broken fibula in a bowl game to end last season and rehabbed in the offseason. He is the active career leader in tackles for loss per game (1.22).

Past Burlsworth Trophy winners include:

  • 2018- Hunter Renfrow, Receiver- Clemson
  • 2017- Luke Falk, Quarterback- Washington State
  • 2016- Baker Mayfield, Quarterback- Oklahoma
  • 2015- Baker Mayfield, Quarterback- Oklahoma
  • 2014- Justin Hardy, Receiver- East Carolina
  • 2013- Jared Abbrederis, Receiver- Wisconsin
  • 2012- Matt McGloin, Quarterback- Penn State
  • 2011- Austin Davis, Quarterback- Southern Mississippi
  • 2010- Sean Bedford, Center- Georgia Tech

The trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth. Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children who have limited opportunities.

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