With the NFL Scouting Combine just finished on Monday, we’ll take a quick re-cap of the major D-I College Football Conferences awards.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: OLB/DE JOSH ALLEN, KENTUCKY
Allen set the Kentucky record with 31.5 career sacks, including a school-record 17 in 2018. He is the SEC’s leader in sacks, tackles for loss (21.5) and forced fumbles (5). Allen is tied for first on Kentucky’s all-time career forced fumbles list with 11. He was named winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy awarded to the nation’s top defensive player.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: QB TUA TAGOVAILOA, ALABAMA
Tagovailoa has thrown for 3,966 yards this season and set a school record with 43 touchdown passes. He has thrown for 300 or more yards in six of Alabama’s games, and he also set a school record with a combined 48 passing and rushing touchdowns. Tagovailoa is tied for second on Alabama’s all-time career touchdown pass list with 54. He was one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
Beyond the stats, Tagovailoa’s pure arm talent simply looks better than anyone else’s in the SEC. He’s making throws like no Alabama quarterbacks has done before. And his career QB rating of 195.1 is better than any Alabama quarterback, ever. He’s well on his way to become the greatest to ever play the position in program history.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: P BRANDON MANN, TEXAS A&M
Mann is the first Aggie to be named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year. He lead the FBS with a 50.98 punting average. He set a pair of NCAA records in 2018 with a 60.8 gross punt average on five punts against Alabama and 14 60-yard punts for the season. The Aggie punter was named to the A.P. All-American; All-SEC First Team; awarded Special Teams Player of the Year; and took home the Ray Guy Award for best punter in America. Mann will return for his senior year.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: JAYLEN WADDLE, ALABAMA
Waddle lead all SEC freshmen with 61.8 receiving yards per game and seven touchdown receptions during the regular season. He was fourth in the SEC in yards per catch (19.6) and second in punt return average (15.1). Waddle has returned one punt for a touchdown this year. He finished 2018 with 848 receiving yards and 233 punt return yards
SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: HALE HENTGES, ALABAMA
Hentges graduated Magna Cum Laude in three years and is now pursuing a master’s in marketing. He earned a 3.74 GPA as an undergraduate and holds a 4.0 GPA in his master’s program. A CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree, Hentges has played in all 13 games this season and has a pair of touchdown receptions.
JACOBS BLOCKING TROPHY: LT JONAH WILLIAMS, ALABAMA
Williams has start all 15 games this season for Alabama and helped pave the way for an offense that leads the SEC with 522 yards per game. The Crimson Tide lead the FBS with 12 games of 500+ total yards.
SEC COACH OF THE YEAR: MARK STOOPS, KENTUCKY
Stoops led Kentucky to a 9-3 regular season record, including a 5-3 mark in SEC play, both of which are the best for the Wildcats since 1977. Kentucky earned a bid to the Citrus Bowl for the first time in school history, defeating Penn State 27-24.