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Conference student-athletes prominent in national awards’ conversation
The Jameis Winston for Heisman Campaign began in Tallahassee back on September 2 and continues to roll full force.
Over the course of the past week, Pitt’s sports information office has barely been able to announce that Aaron Donald is a finalist for one national defensive award before news breaks that he’s on the list for yet another.
At Boston College, Andre Williams continues to literally make a late run at a slew of postseason honors, and many are now including him in the Heisman conversation as well.
The Mackey Award features a pair of ACC tight ends among its three finalists in North Carolina’s Eric Ebron and Florida State’s Nick O’Leary. FSU freshman kicker Roberto Aguayo is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award. Seminole senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner is a finalist for two major national awards.
And would it be Thanksgiving week without the Clemson tandem of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins having played their way into serious consideration for postseason accolades?
As the 2013 season winds down, ACC student-athletes have indeed earned their spots in college football’s spotlight. Below is an alphabetical capsule look at nine conference players who have been named finalists for a total of 13 national awards, a list that may not be conclusive with this weekend’s regular-season finales figuring to weigh heavily.
Roberto Aguayo, PK, Florida State – Finalist for the Groza Award (nation’s top kicker). Aguayo, a freshman, set the FBS record for most consecutive extra points in one season, having made all 80 of his PAT attempts thus far. Combined with his 15 field goals, that gives him 125 points on the season, the most by any kicker in the nation and the third-most by any player at any position. Aguayo made his first 70 total kicks, an FSU record for consecutive makes, before his only missed field goal.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – Finalist for the Unitas Award (nation’s top senior quarterback) and the Manning Award (nation’s top quarterback overall). Boyd has completed 233-of-346 passes for 3248 yards and 29 touchdowns and has eight rushing touchdowns for 37 TDR total. Boyd averages 338 yards a game in total offense and currently ranks seventh in the nation in passing efficiency with a 169.8 rating.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt – Finalist for the Nagurski Award (nation’s outstanding defensive player), Outland Trophy (nation’s outstanding interior lineman), Lombardi Award (nation’s outstanding lineman) and Bednarik Award (college defensive player of the year). Donald leads the country in tackles for loss with 2.3 per contest. No other player is averaging more than 1.8 TFLs per game. He also ranks sixth in sacks (1.0 per game) and eighth in forced fumbles (0.40 per game). Donald is the only defensive tackle ranked in the top 10 nationally in sacks. He is the overall FBS active career leader with 28.5 sacks.
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – Finalist for the Mackey Award (nation’s top tight end.). Ebron has 50 receptions for 774 yards and three touchdowns thus far. Ebron holds UNC season and career records for catches and receiving yards by a tight end. Entering Saturday's regular-season finale against Duke, he has 100 career catches for 1,606 yards.
Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State – Finalist for the Nagurski Award (nation’s outstanding defensive player) and Thorpe Award (nation’s top defensive back). Joyner leads the Seminoles with five quarterback sacks. Also has a a pair of QB pressures while forcing three fumbles. Joyner’s 55 tackles are the most of any of the three Thorpe Award finalists.
Nick O’Leary, TE Florida State – Finalist for the Mackey Award (nation’s top tight end). O’Leary has 27 catches for 457 yards and seven scores while averaging a healthy 16.9 yards per catch. He has set personal highs in catches, yards and TDs this season, and his 11 career TD catches are the most by a tight end in FSU history.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – Finalist for Biletnikoff Award (nation’s outstanding college receiver). Watkins has 78 receptions for 1144 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. He leads the ACC in 100-yard receiving games with seven, also a single season record at Clemson. The junior from Fort Myers, Fla., is the only receiver in the nation with two touchdown receptions of at least 90 yards this year.
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College – Finalist for Doak Walker Award (nation’s premier running back) . Williams has been at his best in the last three games, averaging 299 yards over that stretch and becoming the 16th running back in history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark. Williams’ 2,073 yards rushing this season are an ACC record (with two games still remaining), and 339 yards vs. NC State on Nov. 16 set a conference single-game mark.
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State – Finalist for the Maxwell Award (college player of the year), O’Brien Award (nation’s top quarterback) and Manning Award (nation’s top quarterback). The redshirt freshman has compiled a quarterback rating of 91.2 while leading the Seminoles to an 11-0 record. Winston owns a pass efficiency rating of 194.5 while completing 69.6 percent of his passes and throwing for 3,248 yards and 32 touchdowns.