The season has come and gone in the snap of a finger. As we prepare for the bowl season, we can take a look back at the unbelievable 2019 season that blessed us with uber-talented athletes, unbelievable plays, and unforgettable upsets. For a quick history lesson, a mere five years ago, I wrote my first article featured in Bulldawg Illustrated. It was the very first annual Hammys. As I type these words and reflect upon my past five years with Cheri, Vance, and the entire BI family, I realize just how fortunate I am and how great it is to be a Dawg. I will graduate from high school this upcoming May, but I would not be the person I am today without the endless support from my family, friends, BI, and many others who have poured into my life to further my journalism career. To thank my 2019 interviewees one last time, these awards are named after them along with some others who have aided in my writing. Enough sappiness though, let’s talk college football.
Quarterbacks across the nation have been absolutely remarkable. From Washington State’s Anthony Gordon to Oregon’s Justin Herbert across the nation to Trevor Lawrence back West to Jalen Hurts and up North to Justin Fields, all these quarterbacks have been exceptional; however, the unignorable stats of Joe Burrow win him this prestigious award. Burrow has led his Bayou Bengals to staple victories, such as five top-ten wins over Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia. Burrow’s 4,715 yards on a 77.9 completion percentage prove that he does, in fact, have a laser for an arm and is the rightful quarterback for this award.
Like the quarterbacks, running backs from sea to shining sea have been unbelievable, but Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard surpasses all. Hubbard is a Canada native and came to Oklahoma State hoping to make the Cowboys a highly respectable rushing team once again like they were with one of college football’s finest, Barry Sanders. Chuba Hubbard is known as the Canadian Cowboy, but he leads America with 1,936 rushing yards and is second in rushing touchdowns with 21. The sophomore star has earned some Heisman attention and steals this Hammy as the best running back in the nation.
A name less familiar to some college football fans is that of Arkansas State’s Omar Bayless, but his skills cannot go without notice. A whopping 1,473 receiving yards pop out among his stat line and earn him the title of the second-leading receiver in the nation. His 16 touchdowns are also second in the nation, but his 17.5 yards per reception show to be the most impressive in my book. His speed, agility, and strength are obvious on tape, and this stat proves his dominance on the football field. One with over a thousand yards receiving and averaging over 17 yards per reception earn this man a Hammy, so Omar Bayless enjoy this moment as you have been named the best receiver in college football by me, Hamilton Culpepper.
Ros’ Renowned Defensive Player
This award is not even a question. Chase Young is, without a doubt, the best defensive player in the nation. His college football leading 16.5 sacks are the most by any Ohio State defender. Prior to his two-game suspension, Chase Young had a strong case to win the Heisman Trophy, but a defensive player trying to win the individual award cannot afford any mistakes as history shows that only one primarily defensive player, Michigan’s Charles Woodson, has ever won the Heisman. I still believe Young is one of the best college football players in the land and is without a doubt, the best defensive player in America.
Kevin Butler was one of the best kickers in Georgia football history, and he actually coached the kicker who wins this year’s award for the best kicker. His leg is amazing and his glasses are even better, this is Rodrigo Blankenship, the latest winner of a 2019 Hammy. Against Texas A&M on November 23rd, Hot Rod became Georgia’s all-time leading scorer. On the season, he is 25-31 and his longest field goal of 50 yards make him one of the best kickers in the nation, but his spectacles make him the best. While he exceeds on the football field, Rodrigo Blankenship is also brilliant in the classroom, majoring in Journalism at the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism. Hot Rod, we respect the specs, now take the Hammy.
Dantzler’s “Down in the Trenches” Best Offensive Line
“Down in the trenches …” This is where the game is won. The big men up front do not get the respect they deserve, but your friend, Hammy, is not forgetting about them. This year’s best offensive line is Clemson. Creating holes for their top-tier running back Travis Etienne and giving time to their top-rated quarterback has been a given. This O-line seems to never fail at their assignments, allowing a sack on just 2.4% of their plays and helping their team rush for 3,288 total yards. These are some big dudes making big plays for the undefeated Tigers.
The class of 2022 is unparalleled and brings so much talent to the game of college football. One of the bright stars in this freshman class was North Carolina’s Sam Howell. A four-star, pro-style quarterback out of high school, Sam Howell chose Chapel Hill to be his home for the next three to four seasons, and the work he is displaying on the gridiron is record-breaking. This season, he set the FBS record for a freshman scoring 35 touchdowns; the only other player in history to do so: Trevor Lawrence. I’d say that’s pretty elite company. Sam Howell has helped Coach Mack Brown and the Tar Heels go from a 2-9 record a year ago to a 6-6 record this season, so it is without a doubt that this freshman has earned himself a name in Chapel Hill and some stats that lead the nation among freshmen.
Uniform is of the utmost importance in our military, and our Army epitomizes clean uniform on the battlefield and football field. Through the entire season they have exhibited multiple uniform combinations, and let me just say… they look so awesome. Most notably, in last week’s game against Navy, Army honored the 1st Cavalry Division with special, never-worn before uniforms. The game off the field, a.k.a. the uniform battle, is won by Army.
A couple in college football is a pair of athletes who display peak performance on the field simultaneously and complement one another very well. No two players have been better together than Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins. Both players are in the Heisman discussion and are large components in Ohio State’s success. Fields has thrown for 40 touchdowns, second-most in college football history, with just one interception while Dobbins has rushed for 1,829 yards and 20 touchdowns. As a defense, this is nearly impossible to defend. One must respect the pass, but then Dobbins runs all over you and vice versa.
College football is a beautiful game, and some of the players that happen to play on these autumn Saturdays are beautiful as well. I am not responsible for deciding this award rather my sister helps me out on deciding the best-looking college football player. This year’s best-looking award goes to Trevor Lawrence. In the words of my sister Mimi, “His hair comes out the back of his helmet so flowingly and with his helmet off the full-fledged locks are revealed. He is a specimen.” Enough said… good-looking dude.
I chose the sentimental route for play of the year, a tear-jerker to say the least. Youngstown State’s senior quarterback Nathan Mays faced a season-ending injury earlier this year, and it ultimately ended his career as he is not receiving any NFL attention. However, during the last game of the season, as Youngstown State was beating Illinois State 21-3, the waning seconds ticked off the clock. Head Coach Bo Pelini called a timeout with 10 seconds remaining, and two offensive linemen of the Penguins carried their quarterback to the ball. The center snapped a final play into the hands of Nathan Mays. He closed out their season and sealed the game with one last kneel that ended his college football career.
The game of the year was LSU’s 46-41 win over Alabama. The drama surrounding the game, the weight it had on the College Football Playoff, and the battle it was on the field all contribute to why this game wins this award. Three weeks removed from a major ankle surgery, Alabama’s starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took the field in a game no one thought he could make the turn around for. Next, it was the No. 2 vs. No.3 team in the nation. There is not a better matchup one can ask for in the regular season. Finally, two historically defensive SEC schools got in a shootout of what seemed to be an offensive heavy game. In the SEC, in the entire nation, this game ranked second to none.
The Leavys’ “Damn” Good Player
Far more important than the Heisman trophy, this Hammy names the best player in college football from my perspective. With that being said, in my eyes, Chase Young was the most dominant player in college football. He is a game-changing, head-hunting, crazy man coming off the defensive edge. His speed, agility, and tackling ability are better than any college football player I have ever seen. The only word to describe his style of play is dominant. While he will most likely not take home the Heisman Trophy, I believe he is one of the best college football players of all time, so Chase Young, I hope you enjoy this better-than-Heisman Hammy.
Fans, we now come to a close. An excellent regular season for the Dawgs is behind us, and we look forward to the great Sugar Bowl matchup with the Baylor Bears. Let’s travel strong and continue to be the best fanbase in college football… Go Dawgs!!