The Farrell Awards: Best of CFB's first half
The midseason point, give or take, of the college football season is upon us so why not hand out some midseason awards? We call these The Farrell Awards and they aren’t the usual hardware you see given out everyplace else.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma – This award goes to the best pure leader in college football and there is no better leader than Mayfield, who reminds me a lot of a Brett Favre - (without the cannon), Aaron Rodgers-type who will run through a wall for his team and leads by example. NFL scouts take notice; stop sleeping on Mayfield.
Surprise Stat Stuffer
Bryce Love, Stanford – This award goes to the guy putting up insane numbers that we didn’t expect. If anyone called for Love to pass 2,000 yards this season, and he should easily reach that number, then they are lying. I had him atop of my breakout list, but I didn’t see this season coming.
Christian Wilkins, Clemson – This is for the guy whose stats won’t wow you, but he impacts the game so much. Wilkins had 28 tackles and 3.5 sacks, not bad for a defensive tackle, but he has to be accounted for on every play and is the main reason (along with Dexter Lawrence) why the Clemson ends are killing it.
Swiss Army Knife
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama – The award for the player who could do anything you ask. Fitzpatrick can be put on an island as a corner, he can cover the slot, he can tackle in the run game, he can blitz and if he was put on offense, he’d dominate there, too.
From Diapers To Dominance
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin – A true freshman who went from rookie to star, Taylor deserves this award. He was overshadowed coming in by bigger names such as Cam Akers and Najee Harris, but he’s the best freshman in the country hands down. Sorry JK Dobbins.
Mr. Quick Twitch
Roquan Smith, Georgia – The best player in the country changing direction and exploding to the football? It’s Smith. Watch him over and over again, and learn how to take the proper angle, rarely false step and recover like a maniac when he does.
Gus Malzahn Award
Don Brown, Michigan – Remember when Gus Malzahn won a national title and Gene Chizik got the credit in the history books as the head coach? Michigan won’t win a national title, but Jim Harbaugh should be thanking his lucky stars he brought Brown in, as he’s the reason the Wolverines are winning games and is the best coordinator in college football.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State – The most physically impressive player in the country award goes to Barkley, who is an absolute monster that can bounce off hits even when airborne. He’s the best player in college football, but that’s a boring title for an award.
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame – The best run blocker in the country is Nelson. He’s also pretty darned good as a pass protector. This guy has gone from the guard next to Mike McGlinchey to the best offensive lineman in the NFL Draft.
Pass Protection Pro
Orlando Brown, Oklahoma – He’s not a physically dominant pass protector who will knock you on your butt often, but watch his technique, feet and arm extension, and he’s elite. He is a great athlete who works well in space.
Devin Bush, Michigan – This award goes to the player who is always trying to lay a big hit and Bush brings the heat with each tackle. He may lead with his head a few times too often, but you know when he’s arrived at the football.
Deep Ball Demon
James Washington, Oklahoma State – Oklahoma State loves to throw the deep ball and Washington is often the target. He’s second in the country in receiving yards with 25 fewer catches than the leader. His 25.9 yards-per-catch is ridiculous.
The Other Guy With That Name
Bradley Chubb, NC State – A unique category for a player whose last name makes you think of someone else. Nick Chubb gets a lot of attention as a running back for No. 3 Georgia, but Bradley Chubb is the best Chubb in the nation.
Blinded By The Light
JT Barrett, Ohio State – This is for the player who choked the most when the big lights were on and so far this season it’s Barrett, who was awful against Oklahoma, a defense that was picked apart by Baylor and Iowa State quarterbacks.
Resilience And Resurgence
JT Barrett, Ohio State – This is for the player who comes back the best from a rough start and it’s Barrett again, who has been amazing since the OU loss. His stats are off the charts since that game and he’s back in the Heisman discussion.
Micah Kiser, Virginia – This is usually for a small market star and Charlottesville has one in Kiser. Quin Blanding is darned good and gets another award (below) but Kiser is a star no one has heard of.
Derwin James, Florida State – James hasn’t played poorly, I just expected more from him. He had made some plays and came within a whisker of a massive play against Alabama in the opener. But he has not been that Heisman candidate I expected. That doesn’t mean he’s not a potential top-five NFL pick however. He’s still amazing.
Gary Patterson, TCU – This award speaks for itself and with all the talk about Tom Herman, Lincoln Riley and Bill Snyder, the best coach in the Big 12 is Patterson. I doubted him after a down season last year, but that was stupid.
Rising Sideline Star
Kirby Smart, Georgia – Will there be a national championship brought to Athens sooner than later? I believe so and Smart is the next star in college football.
Return To Glory
Mark Richt, Miami – The man who couldn’t bring a title to Athens is working hard to bring one back to Miami and his resurgence in the coaching world is good to see. There are few that are more calm when the game is on the line.
Pants On Fire
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame – He started the season on the hot seat and now some are picking Notre Dame to run the table and make the playoff. Those pants are not hot anymore.
NC State – Did anyone expect NC State to be in the top 20 and competing for an ACC title while Louisville, Florida State and even Clemson struggle a bit? That loss to South Carolina doesn’t hurt its ACC chances, but had it pulled that one out it would be in the top seven in the country.
Florida State – This goes to the team we expected to compete for a national title and instead has been subpar. The play out of Florida State this year, Deondre Francois injury or not, has been very bad.
Clemson – I should call this the Alabama award because it goes to the team that just seems to reload each year, but picking ‘Bama seems boring. So, despite the loss to Syracuse, I’ll go with the Tigers and that sick roster.
Quin Blanding, Virginia – This award goes to the player who is just really solid each and every year. Blanding had 123 tackles as a freshman, 115 as a sophomore, 118 as a junior and has 61 now ... so he’s on pace for 122.
Deshon Elliott, Texas – Everyone who reads my stuff knows that the Snuggie in high school goes to the best defensive back in coverage at a certain event, named after the “As Seen On TV” hit that covered you like a blanket. Elliott has been a breakthrough star for Texas.
Name And Nasty
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma – This award goes to the player with the coolest name who is as nasty as they get and the Oklahoma rush end has had an amazing year. It takes him less time to get into the backfield than it does to say his name.
Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson – This award goes to the player who waited his turn to be great and O’Daniel has been around the program forever but is now dominating at Clemson. His play is why the defense hasn’t missed a beat. He’s there to mop up tackles as that front four dominates.