We’re rolling out our ballots for the post-season awards over the next week. If you missed our first one, the Bednarik Award for “most impactful defender,” that one’s over here.
Today, we’ll unveil our choice for the people that catch the ball and the guys who have try to stop them — the Biletnikoff Award and the Thorpe Award
The Fred Biletnikoff Award is presented annually to the most outstanding receiver in American college football.
Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
Sometimes it sucks to be objective and brutally honest.
Thus, we find ourselves in that position this year with Roll Bama Roll’s ballot for the Biletnikoff Award. There are really two names that jump out at you — Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt.
They are very different sorts of players who racked up filthy stats by very different methods. MH2 is a true feature WR1 on the outside. He’s going to get plenty of looks in Day’s pass-first offense and against the B1G’s generous secondaries. Just about every Saturday he outclasses whatever poor bastard is lined up to try and stop it. Most don’t even try anymore: they concede a cushion, and then pray they can keep the slippery MH2 out of the endzone. He has 72 catches for 1157, a dozen scores, 6 catches a game, and an unreal 16.04 YPC.
That would be enough for most years. But this is not most years.
This year, CFB found their Waddle / JaMo / Jaxon-type slot receiver who is absolutely unstoppable: Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt also averages almost 6 catches a game, but he’s had more yards than Harrison (1267) on fewer catches (67), with more scores (15), more YPG, and an unreal 18.91 YPC — very similar to JaMo’s 19.9 YPC, 105 YPG, and 15 TDs last season.
And he plays slot. He’s not a true WR1.
He runs decent routes, has nice hands, but his speed is a matchup nightmare: if you give him a cushion, all you’ve done is give one of CFB’s fastest dudes a running start. If you man him up, he’ll blow off the line with a wicked first step and stronger than you think upper body. And god help you if he finds a seam in the zone. He’s gone.
But aside from sheer production, what separates Hyatt from Harrison this year is the meaningful game production.
MH2’s production was greatly padded by an easier schedule than the Vawls and running it up against bad OOC teams. In B1G play, his numbers dropped to 15 YPC and just 7 scores in 9 games. And he had half a dozen games where he was at or below 60 yards — and scored just three times.
Hyatt’s production was insane in SEC play — he scored 10 times in 8 contests, hit almost 20 YPC, and in 4 games against ranked teams, hit the endzone 8 times. Like MH2, he had a few ragged games where he was held to about 60 games — but he had 1 fewer (just 4 instead of 5), and still managed to find the endzone in contests where he was not the feature guy.
In short, when it mattered most, Hyatt answered the bell; he disappeared less; and he was far more dangerous against better teams. If his superior stats against more quality teams weren’t enough, those factors are.
Now, go get some money and never let me see you again.
The Jim Thorpe Award, named in memory of multi-sport athlete Jim Thorpe, has been awarded to the top defensive back in college football
Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo
As a Sophomore, Mitchell was thrust into the starting role — and became a star, announcing himself spectacularly against Notre Dame with 2 PBU, 2 PD, 5 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 sack, 1 QBH, and allowed just three catches for 37 yards. He was 2nd or 3rd in almost every category of pass defense in the MAC.
Thus, a lot was expected as a Junior, and boy, what an encore Mitchell put on. He’s third in the country in INTs (5), leads the nation in PBU (20), leads the nation in PD (25), and makes a play on the ball 1.92 times per game — also tops in the nation, by a wide margin. He has 39 tackles, 3.5 TFL, and has scored twice. His harassment of Ohio in the MACCG single-handedly got Toledo off the skids and halted the red-hot Bobcats reign of terror.
Ohio didn’t even think about throwing at him.
And his game against NIU was one for the ages.
Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell had FOUR interceptions and ran two of them back for a touchdown today— 247Sports (@247Sports) October 9, 2022
He's the only FBS player since 2000 with 4 INTs and 2 pick-6's in a game.pic.twitter.com/V2aI30CdWT
It’s rare you see a cornerback take over a game. Mitchell has taken over several all season. The three-star, 6’ 200-pounder has a future, and is one of the most well-rounded, dominant playmakers with the ball in the air we’ve seen in a long, long time. And, since he has game speed more than track speed, he has a knack for baiting quarterbacks into bad throws.
Toledo under Jason Candle has produced solid DBs; but Mitchell is not only the best, he is potential super star at the next level.
Who should win the Biletnikoff Award?
This poll is closed
Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State
Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee
Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State