2015 College Football Award finalists: Outland, Maxwell, Bednarik, more

Tuesday saw a number of finalist announcements for college football's major awards, announcements helpfully collected by the National College Football Awards Association. Here's your comprehensive list, with a little bit of quick reaction for each:

BEDNARIK AWARD (Best defensive player) 

Tyler Matakevich, Sr. LB, Temple

Carl Nassib, Sr. DE, Penn State

Reggie Ragland, Sr. LB, Alabama

Thoughts: Ragland and Nassib have been two of the most impactful defenders in college football this season, and it's nice to see Matakevich receive recognition after four tremendous (and often-overlooked) seasons at Temple. Jeremy Cash collecting 18 tackles-for-loss from his safety position at Duke and Shaq Lawson leading Clemson's smothering defense might be the first two alternatives that come to mind.

BILETNIKOFF AWARD (Best wide receiver)

Corey Coleman, Jr. WR, Baylor

Josh Doctson, Jr. WR, TCU

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

Thoughts: Coleman and Doctson are no-brainers, and Treadwell certainly has the eye-popping highlight-reel ability -- if not nearly the numbers of Bowling Green's Roger Lewis.

BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY (Best defensive player)

Jeremy Cash, Sr. S, Duke

Shaq Lawson, Jr. DE, Clemson

Tyler Matakevich, Sr. LB, Temple

Carl Nassib, Sr. DE, Penn State

Reggie Ragland, Sr. LB, Alabama

Thoughts: See? The Nagurski voters agreed with the above Bednarik assessment. (Though the Nagurski finalists were announced Nov. 19; is it the Bednarik's voters following the Nagurski's lead?)

BUTKUS AWARD (Best linebacker)

Leonard Floyd, Jr. LB, Georgia

Deion Jones, Sr. LB, LSU

Raekwon McMillan, Soph. LB, Ohio State

Reggie Ragland, Sr. LB, Alabama

Jaylon Smith, Jr. LB, Notre Dame

Thoughts: The Butkus isn't impressed by raw tackle numbers -- neither Matakevich nor FBS tackles leader Kentrell Brothers of Missouri were even semifinalists.

DAVEY O'BRIEN AWARD (Best quarterback)

Trevone Boykin, Sr. QB, TCU

Baker Mayfield, Jr. QB, Oklahoma

Deshaun Watson, Soph. QB, Clemson

Thoughts: With apologies to Keenan Reynolds and Luke Falk, these three quarterbacks have been the defining signal-callers of college football's 2015 season.

DOAK WALKER AWARD (Best running back)

Leonard Fournette, Soph. RB, LSU

Derrick Henry, Jr. RB, Alabama

Christian McCaffrey, Soph. RB, Stanford

Thoughts: A loaded class of 2015 tailbacks means all of the above are fully worthy choices, but it remains a shame Florida State's Dalvin Cook and his ridiculous 7.97 yards-per-carry average didn't receive a nod. 

JIM THORPE AWARD (Best defensive back)

Jeremy Cash, Sr. S, Duke

Vernon Hargreaves III, Jr. CB, Florida

Desmond King, Jr. CB, Iowa

Thoughts: Hargreaves has a long, successful pro career in front of him, but he hasn't made quite as much impact as a junior as he did as a sophomore; the excellent Jalen Tabor has arguably made him the second-best corner on his own team. Michigan corner Jourdan Lewis, the national leader in passes defended, could have and maybe should have been recognized instead.

JOHN MACKEY AWARD (Best tight end)

Hunter Henry, Jr. TE, Arkansas

Austin Hooper, Jr. TE, Stanford

Jordan Leggett, Jr. TE, Clemson

Thoughts: Michigan's Jake Butt might not be in either Hooper's or Leggett's class as a blocker, but he has 17 more receptions and 187 more receiving yards than Hooper, and 16 more receptions and 221 more receiving yards than Leggett. It's not a Jace Amaro-level head-scratcher, but it's curious all the same.

LOU GROZA AWARD (Best placekicker)

Daniel Carlson, Soph. PK, Auburn

Jake Elliott, Jr. PK, Memphis

Ka'imi Fairbairn, Sr. PK, UCLA

Thoughts: Worth noting that neither the 2013 Groza winner (Florida State's Roberto Aguayo) nor the 2014 winner (Maryland's Brad Craddock) made the cut in 2015.

MAXWELL AWARD (Maxwell Football Club's player of the year)

Derrick Henry, Jr. RB, Alabama

Christian McCaffrey, Soph. RB, Stanford

Deshaun Watson, Soph. QB, Clemson

Thoughts: Given Leonard Fournette's recent struggles, no real surprises or complaints here (unless you're a big Baker Mayfield fan). 

OUTLAND TROPHY (Best interior lineman)

Spencer Drango, Sr. OT, Baylor

Joshua Garnett, Sr. OG, Stanford

A'Shawn Robinson, Jr. DT, Alabama

Thoughts: Kudos to the Outland selectors for recognizing Robinson's dominating season despite his relative lack of individual numbers. 

RAY GUY AWARD (Best punter)

Michael Carrizosa, Soph. P, San Jose State

Tom Hackett, Sr. P, Utah

Hayden Hunt, Jr. P, Colorado State

Thoughts: The Spartans, Utes and Rams lead the nation in net punting, so no problem with nods for any of the punters above, but Florida's Johnny Townsend and Hawaii's Rigoberto Sanchez both deserve shout-outs for their ratio of touchbacks-to-punts: 3-to-62 for Townsend, 2-to-74 for Sanchez.

ROTARY LOMBARDI AWARD (Best lineman or linebacker)

Joey Bosa, Jr. DE, Ohio State

Myles Garrett, Soph. DE, Texas A&M

Shaq Lawson, Jr. DE, Clemson

Carl Nassib, Sr. DE, Penn State

Thoughts: The Lombarid voters have somewhat gone with overall impact over numbers in siding with Bosa and Garrett, which makes its somewhat surprising they also passed on the omnipresent Ragland. But as with any objections here, the above four players are all outstanding college football players, and any gripe is picking nits.

Carl Nassib is up for the Bednarik, Lombardi and Nagurski awards. (USATSI)
Carl Nassib is up for the Bednarik, Lombardi and Nagurski awards. (USATSI)
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