Your B1G guide to the 2015 Home Depot College Football Awards
Ok, so the field isn’t exactly loaded with B1G players.
Nevertheless, Desmond King and Carl Nassib both have a chance to shine on a national stage at the Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. To see a complete list of the nominees, click here.
Here’s a guide to what both All-Americans are up against:
Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year)
Carl Nassib, Penn State DE — The nation’s sack leader already racked up a bunch of hardware this week. The Lombardi Award and Ted Hendricks Award winner set a Penn State record with 15.5 sacks, despite the fact that he was basically out the final two games. The former walk-on earned first-team All-American honors and was named the B1G’s Defensive Player of the Year. The biggest factor in Nassib’s favor, of course, is the sack total.
Tyler Matakevich, Temple LB — Ironically, one of Nassib’s competitors is the guy who helped lead Temple to a blowout win against Penn State in the season opener. He already earned the Bronco Nagurski Award for racking up 125 tackles, five interceptions and 4.5 tackles for loss. The senior helped lead Temple to one of its best wins in school history, but he might get knocked for not doing his damage in a Power Five conference.
Reggie Ragland, Alabama LB — The possible favorite to win the award fueled Alabama to its second straight College Football Playoff berth. Ragland anchored the Tide defense with 90 tackles, 6.5 of which were for a loss. As the catalyst of the nation’s top-ranked run defense, Ragland could easily wind up with the honor.
Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back of the year)
Desmond King, Iowa CB — Tied for the national lead in interceptions, King had a breakout year for the surprise Hawkeyes. His abilities as a play-making cornerback helped Iowa to its first Rose Bowl in 25 years. King was the only defensive player among the Walter Camp Award finalists, and will have a legitimate shot to add another accolade to his All-American season.
Jeremy Cash, Duke S — King’s top competition will be the Duke safety. The ACC Player of the Year racked up a whopping 18 tackles for loss as a defensive back, which was the highest total for the position in the country. He added 101 tackles, eight quarterback hurries, 2.5 sacks, four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. His versatility could be what puts him over the top.
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida CB — Hargreaves might be the most dynamic player in the country, which is why he’s rarely tested. He defended eight passes and intercepted four. His ability to consistently lock down SEC deep threats was why Florida finished 11th in the country against the pass. Hargreaves is the more highly touted pro prospect, but he could still have a say in King’s chances.
What else to watch for — Ohio State fans might be salty that Ezekiel Elliott isn’t up for the Doan Walker Award, but it’s still one of the best battles in recent memory. Alabama workhorse Derrick Henry and do-it-all back Christian McCaffrey will perhaps provide a preview of Saturday night’s Heisman Trophy presentation. You can bet the likes of Michigan State and Iowa are hoping that Henry and McCaffrey are getting plenty of headlines leading up to their New Year’s Six showdowns.