It’s crazy to think, but this will be the eighth annual Hammys, my assessment of college football’s best players, moments, games, etc. The first Hammys came in 2014 and was my first article printed in Bulldawg Illustrated. The opportunity I have had to write for Cheri, Vance and the BI team has granted me some of the coolest moments in not only my young journalism career but my life in general. I wanted to take a few words to thank everyone along the way. To my interviewees who take time out of their day to talk to me and make my week, thank you; to my mentors who have given me countless tips and criticism that have only aided my writing, thank you; to my readers who continue to support my writing, thank you; and to Cheri and Vance, I don’t think you knew what we were getting into when you allowed me to write for BI eight years ago, but I wouldn’t do it any differently if I could, so thank you for letting me continue to write, furthering my journalism career.
Without further adieu, the 2022 Hammys go to…
QB of the Year
It is without question that the quarterback play across the country was wild. Prior to Hendon Hooker’s injury, he seemed to have run away with the competition, but missing the remainder of the season following the South Carolina loss harmed his stats. The former walk-on Stetson Bennett has led his Georgia Bulldogs to a 13-0 record and been nothing short of incredible, but his stats aren’t head-turners in comparison to others. Last year’s Heisman winner Bryce Young certainly looks the part with stats but a two-loss season hurts his campaign as well. The late surge from TCU’s Max Duggan captured the attention of many as the Horned Frogs are in the College Football Playoff for the first time. CJ Stroud out of Ohio State has been consistently killing it; however, the one that steals the cake is USC’s Caleb Williams. In his first year as the Trojans’ starter, he has thrown 37 touchdowns with 4,075 (4th in the nation) passing yards and completed crazy sidearm and on-the-run throws that look like Sunday Night Football on Saturdays. So, Mr. Williams, here is your Hammy.
RB of the Year
It was a landslide for the running back of the year. Texas’ Bijan Robinson has been nothing short of incredible. He has carried the Longhorns offense with 1,580 (5th in the nation) rushing yards on 280 attempts, bringing his average to 6.1 yards per carry. To top it off, he added 18 rushing touchdowns to his stat line. Bijan Robinson: the best running back in college football… simple.
WR of the Year
There has been one player who exceeded expectations unlike any other at the receiver position, Jalin Hyatt from Tennessee. On the year, he recorded 1,267 receiving yards (4th in the nation) on just 67 catches, giving him 18.9 yards per catch. He had 15 receiving touchdowns, but his performance in the Vols upset over Alabama sealed the receiver of the year for me. Hyatt had six receptions for 207 yards and five touchdowns… five against the mighty Crimson Tide!
TE of the Year
No bias here, without a doubt, Brock Bowers is the greatest tight end in college football and second place goes to his teammate Darnell Washington. That tight end room in Athens may be the best position room in college football out of all position groups. For Bowers, he has 52 receptions for 762 yards and six receiving touchdowns. He also added three rushing touchdowns on six carries for 93 yards. He is the X-factor for the Bulldogs and the winner of this Hammy.
Defensive Player of the Year
Entering the season, the best player in college football and potential No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft was Alabama’s linebacker Will Anderson; now, Georgia’s defensive lineman Jalen Carter has taken the reins and earned 2022’s defensive player of the year. He is the most dominant player in college football and has absolutely wreaked havoc in the trenches. His stats may not compare to a linebackers because he’s on the line, but his 29 total tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two passes defended earn him this honor, this Hammy and possibly a No. 1 overall Draft pick.
Special Teams Player of the Year
The kicking game has been strong across the board throughout 2022. Another Dawg in Athens, Jack Podlesny, has been nearly perfect kicking this year, but a different kicker for one of the top four teams, Michigan’s Jake Moody, steals the cake. Moody leads all of college football in scoring with 136 points accounted for. He’s 100% on extra points and 81.3% on field goals. Here is your Hammy Jake Moody.
I let my sister Mimi do the selection for this award, so if you disagree, contact her. This Hammy, a.k.a Mimi, goes to Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. The gunslinger took over the starting job after Michigan’s first game and has not looked back, but the girls keep looking at him.
Uniform of the Year
The last regular season game of the year also sports the best uniform matchup across the board. The Army/Navy game featured two special customs that honor the men and women in our military. Navy’s featured NASA get up gain mastery with an airbrushed astronaut on each helmet… absolutely awesome looking.
Play of the Year
In week three of the 2022 season, Appalachian State hosted Troy and College GameDay traveled to Boone, North Carolina for the first time, but it was the final play of the game that made the trip worthwhile for ESPN’s flagship Saturday show. With two seconds on the clock, Chase Brice and the Mountaineers offense were on their own 47-yard line down 28-26. The Clemson transfer quarterback heaved a ball from the 43 to the goalline. It fell short to the five-yard line, but the Mountaineers’ Dalton Stroman tipped it forward to Christian Horn who weaved right and cleared the far side pylon … touchdown … game-winner … chaos in Boone … Play of the Year!
Game of the Year
The anticipation, the history, the rivalry and everything in between, the Alabama/Tennessee game was one of the craziest college football games in recent history. Alabama secured 15 straight wins in the the Third Saturday in October rivalry, but Heupel’s Vols and Neyland Stadium were ready to rock the Tide this year. In a 52-49 Tennessee win, we saw Hendon Hooker throw five touchdowns to Jalin Hyatt and pick apart that stout Bama defense, but it still came down to a last second kick that sealed the game for the Vols. After being tipped by the Tide defense, Chase McGrath put just enough behind the ball to barely get it through the uprights and all hell broke loose in Neyland. Vols fans stormed the field, ripped down the goalposts and carried the uprights all the way to the Tennessee River. History was made in Knoxville on the third Saturday in October of 2022.
Coach of the Year
Coaches around the country have brought their teams back from dismal 2021 seasons and shocked the world with major wins, big time commitments, transfer portal success and much more, but none have done it quite like South Carolina’s Shane Beamer. After a 6-6 2021 regular season the Gamecocks pulled out a win in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl over North Carolina and carried that momentum into the offseason. Beamer and company added former five-star quarterback Spencer Rattler from the transfer portal and came into 2022 with high hopes. USC started the season 1-2, however, with losses to Georgia and Arkansas and hope seemed lost. But, the Gamecocks surged late in the year with a 63-38 win over No. 5 Tennessee followed by a 31-30 win over No. 8 Clemson the very next week. “Beamer Ball” swept the nation, and Coach Beamer, you earned this Hammy.
Leavy’s Damn Good Player of the Year
There has been one man who delivers each week, one man who led his team to an undefeated season, one man who led his team to a conference championship and one man who currently leads his team into the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 seed… the Mailman. Stetson Bennett IV began his career as a walk-on but has made a name for himself winning a national title in the 2021-22 season and earning Heisman finalist status this year. The six-year quarterback also secured the Burlsworth Trophy, awarded to the nation’s best player who began their career as a walk-on. The individual hardware is not what makes him the nation’s best player. His stats may not compare to other quarterbacks, but they’re enough to lead a team to a 13-0 record and make him the most impactful player for one team in college football. He is the glue for an undefeated team, the playmaker who never ceases to amaze despite his height or arm talent. He is the Mailman and he delivers week in and week out, and delivered to you Stet the Jet is the Leavy’s Damn Good Player of the Year!