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Thursday, December 6, 2012
Who should win, who will win

By Mark Schlabach
ESPN.com

Conference championships have been won. Bowl matchups are set.

It's time to hand out individual awards at The Home Depot College Football Awards at Disney's BoardWalk in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Thursday (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET).

Here's a list of the finalists for each award and which players should win -- plus who will win:

Biletnikoff Award (top receiver)

Finalists: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
Marqise Lee, USC
Terrance Williams, Baylor

Lee

Who should win: Lee. The sophomore from Inglewood, Calif., should have been a Heisman Trophy finalist after catching 112 passes for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Trojans. Only USC's 7-5 record probably prevented him from being invited to New York this week. Lee had 16 catches for 345 yards with two touchdowns in a 39-36 loss at Arizona, one of eight 100-yard outings this season.

Who will win: Lee

Lou Groza Collegiate Place-kicker Award

Finalists: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
Cairo Santos, Tulane
Caleb Sturgis, Florida

Santos

Who should win: Santos. The junior from St. Augustine, Fla., was 21-for-21 on field goal attempts this season. He kicked a 57-yarder in a 49-47 loss to Rice on Nov. 3, setting a Tulane record for longest field goal in a game. Santos tied the school record for longest field goal with a 54-yarder in a 63-10 loss to Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 29. He is the only FBS kicker with two field goals longer than 54 yards this season. Santos went 10-for-10 from 40 to 49 yards and 2-for-2 from beyond 50 yards.

Who will win: Sturgis

Maxwell Award (best all-around)

Finalists: Collin Klein, Kansas State
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Manti Te'o, Notre Dame

Manziel

Who should win: Manziel. He was the most exciting and most valuable player in the country this season. The freshman from Kerrville, Texas, led the No. 9 Aggies in passing and rushing; he passed for 3,419 yards with 24 touchdowns and ran for 1,181 yards with 19 touchdowns. In coach Kevin Sumlin's spread offense, Manziel completed 68.3 percent of his attempts and threw only eight interceptions. He threw for 253 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 92 yards in a 29-24 upset at No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 10.

Who will win: Manziel

Maxwell Football Club Defensive Player of the Year (Chuck Bednarik Trophy)

Finalists: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Te'o, Notre Dame

jones

Who should win: Jones. There wasn't a more disruptive or productive defensive player in the country than Jones, who had 77 tackles, 22½ tackles for loss and 12½ sacks in 11 games. The USC transfer also had one interception, 33 quarterback hurries, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. In Georgia's 17-9 victory over then-No. 2 Florida on Oct. 27, Jones poked the ball out of Gators tight end Jordan Reed's hands and into the end zone, where cornerback Sanders Commings recovered it to preserve the Bulldogs' victory.

Who will win: Te'o

Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award

Finalists: Klein, Kansas State
Manziel, Texas A&M
Braxton Miller, Ohio State

Klein

Who should win: Klein. He was just as valuable to his team as Manziel was to the Aggies. He completed 180 of 272 passes for 2,490 yards with 15 touchdowns, and rushed for 890 yards with 22 scores. If Klein wasn't under center for the Wildcats, there's probably no way they were ranked No. 1 earlier this season, or playing Oregon in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.

Who will win: Manziel

Outland Trophy (interior lineman)

Finalists: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

Cooper

Who should win: Cooper. There wasn't a more dominant blocker in the nation than Cooper, who is projected to be a first-round pick in next spring's NFL draft. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound guard from Wilmington, N.C., set a UNC record for games started (47) and won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the ACC's top offensive lineman. He averaged better than 90 percent on blocking and posted 10 or more knockdown blocks in nine of 12 games this season.

Who will win: Cooper

Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back)

Finalists: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Dee Milliner, Alabama
Phillip Thomas, Fresno State

Thomas

Who should win: Thomas. The 6-1, 215-pound senior from Bakersfield, Calif., was the most consistent player among the three this season. He set a Mountain West Conference record with eight interceptions, which was also the highest total among FBS players. In fact, he had more interceptions than 19 FBS teams this season. Thomas returned three interceptions for touchdowns, a Fresno State record and second-best in NCAA history. Thomas also led the Bulldogs with 82 tackles, helping them finish 9-3 in coach Tim DeRuyter's first season.

Who will win: Thomas

Doak Walker Award (running back)

Finalists: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Kenjon Barner, Oregon
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA

Barner

Who should win: Barner. He would have had a 2,000-yard season if he'd gotten more playing time in the second half of games this season. He finished with 1,624 rushing yards in 12 games and was fifth among FBS players with 135.3 yards per game. The 5-11, 192-pound senior from Riverside, Calif., set an Oregon single-game record with 321 rushing yards with five touchdowns on 38 carries in a 62-51 victory at USC on Nov. 3. He ran for 201 yards against Fresno State and narrowly missed breaking the 200-yard mark against Washington State (195) and Oregon State (198).

Who will win: Barner

Ray Guy Award (punter)

Finalists: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech
Kyle Christy, Florida
Scott Kovanda, Ball State

Allen

Who should win: Christy. He was a field-position weapon for the Gators all season. The sophomore from Brownsburg, Ind., averaged 46.1 yards per punt, sixth-best among FBS players, and 26 of his 62 punts were 50 yards or longer. He had 26 punts downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line and only 20 of his punts were returned. In Florida's 44-11 victory over then-No. 7 South Carolina on Oct. 20, Christy punted seven times for 380 yards, averaging 54.3 yards.

Who will win: Allen