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2023 College Football Awards: Part One — Our Ballots

From the Joe Moore to the Paul Hornung and everything in between — here’s who we voted for.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s awards season, and with its arrival next week, we’re sharing with you the ballots cast by Roll Bama Roll.


Joe Moore Award
Liberty Flames

Given to the best offensive line group in the country, we went far afield this year, and stayed away from sexier names like Oregon, Michigan, and Georgia. Instead we went with what has perhaps been the most dominant group in the country: The Liberty Flames.

Jamey Chadwell had good lines at Coastal, but nothing like this. Liberty was 1st in TFL allowed (31) and ran their way to a 12-0 regular season CUSA title and a No. 24 ranking. Liberty led the country in total rushing yards, rushing yards per game, rushing yards per attempt, and rushing touchdowns.

We think of the Flames as a power running team with some option looks, and they are, but LU finished 2nd nationally in sacks allowed (just 5), and was 4th in sack-rate allowed per drop-back. The balanced Flames posted a 29/5 TD-Int. ratio and were 4th in passing YPA — just behind Alabama.

If this group isn’t eventually mentioned on par with 2022 Georgia, 2012 Alabama, or 2002 Ohio State, that’s a damned shame.

This is as good as it gets, folks.


Lombardi Award
Brock Bowers (TE, Georgia)

This nebulous award — meant to honor the spirit of Vince Lombardi — is given to a Big Ugly or Tight End on offense, and to a person in the Front Seven on defense: the guys who do the dirty work up front. Last year, Will Anderson won the award, and this year, despite his injury, I went with a no-brainer lifetime achievement vote: Georgia Tight End Brock Bowers.

He’s not having the year he did last season, but if he’s not the most dangerous collegiate tight end I’ve ever seen, I’m not sure who was. This guy is a mismatch nightmare — fast, strong as an ox, elusive in the open field, a legitimate threat as a running option, has soft hands, is a capable blocker, and runs incredible routes.

And he scares the hell out of me for Saturday’s game.

There aren’t many defenders in the NFL that can matchup with him, and there’s absolutely no one in college who can. And that’s been true since he was a freshman.

Can’t-miss, next-level talent. If his health holds, he’ll be in Canton one day.


John Mackey Award
Dallin Holker (TE, Colorado State)

Given all the praise we just heaped on Bowers, you’d think this award given to the nation’s premiere tight end would also swing Bowers’s way. But no, this year the best pure tight end — and by far its most productive — was found on an unfortunately bad-but-rebuilding team: Colorado State’s Dallin Holker.

All Holker has done this year is lead the nation’s tight ends in practically every category imaginable:

Holker has the most catches (64) and yards (767) — best in the country. Among all pass catchers he’s top 40 in grabs. He has 10 contested catches (tops for tight ends), to go with 6 TDs (3rd for TEs). He leads the nation with 38 first down catches, and is 3rd in YAC (379). PFF even graded him out as the 6th-best blocking TE.

Admittedly, the Rams are a pass-friendly offense, but the contested catch numbers and blocking skills more than make up for any concerns that his stats are padded.

Bowers may be the better athlete and have the lifetime marks, but Holker dominated the field in 2023. The NFL is already drooling after this kid. CSU’s Trey McBride won the award in 2021, so the Rams are fast becoming quite a destination spot for elite talent at the position (there is a reason Nick Saban hired away their position coach.)


Lou Groza Award
Will Reichard (PK, Alabama)

This may seem like a homer pick, but Will’s the best placekicker in the country, and has arguably been so for three of the last four seasons.

Reichard has amassed 530 points in his career, tied for the most by any player in FBS history. He will almost certainly set the NCAA record this weekend.

This season, his 3-for-3 mark on kicks from at least 50 yards gives him the most by any kicker who didn’t miss from long distance, perhaps not surprising given his 8 career makes from 50+ are the most in Alabama history.

And it’s not just the super-long kicks either. Reichard has made more 40-49 yard attempts than the next two finalists have even attempted...combined. And he has a full dozen more of those attempts (and 8 more makes) than anyone in the country over the last five years.

Wills’s not missed an extra point in three years, just two in his five years of playing well over 200 attempts — I wish I were 99% good at anything.

Finally, it’s not really mentioned much, but his placement on kick returns is preternatural. For a season, Alabama opponents have never started their KOR possessions past the 27 yard line, and in three of four seasons, they’ve been pinned between the 23.58 and 25.64 yard line. This year, he is showing his leg, with well over 60% of his kicks being downed in the endzone.

Absolute weapon and a well-deserved, long-overdue honor.



Maxwell Award
Jalen Milroe (QB, Alabama)

Jalen Milroe was not ultimately a finalist, but we voted for him nevertheless — giving him the slight nod over Jayden Daniels here.

Milroe leads the country in air-yards per throw, air-yards per target, and is third in the country in yards per attempt. The Tide’s passing game is far more vertical than under Bill O’Brien. JMil hits 10.6 yards per attempt vs. 8.4 and 8.9 with Heisman-winner Bryce Young. Only the three years of Tua and Mac were better in terms of YPA.

Milroe has single-handedly taken over games, keeping Alabama in the title discussion (such as his five versus LSU on national television). He leads ‘Bama with a dozen rushing touchdowns, has thrown 21 strikes for scores and 2500 yards, and is 3rd nationally in QBR.

Without Milroe, Alabama is a Liberty Bowl team. Alongside Jayden Daniels, there’s not a single “more valuable player” than what Milroe means to ‘Bama.

There’s also the Gravedigger, which cemented him as an instant legend at Alabama and in the long, weird history of the Iron Bowl.


Davey O’Brien Award
Jayden Daniels (QB, LSU)

I wanted to go in great depth about why I voted for Daniels for this award, given to the nation’s top senior quarterback. But, honestly, Cody Worsham summarizes it far better than I ever could:

And he has been doing it against the Nation’s No. 3 SOS, against quality defenses too.

There really is not much to say about this most obvious of all selections. Oregon is a 10-win team without Bo Pix, Washington is 9-10 win team without Penix.

LSU wouldn’t even make the Birmingham Bowl without Jayden Daniels, who legitimately did not have a single bad game this season.


We’ll return tomorrow with Part Two of our ballots — including the Thorpe, Biletnikoff, Nat’l Coach of the Year, Lott Impact, Nagurski, and more.

For now, chime in below. Is there anyone else you’d put here? Someone we omitted? Vehement disagreements? Chat below.

Poll

You have to win one game in 2023, who are you taking?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Jalen Milroe
    (189 votes)
  • 53%
    Jayden Daniels
    (265 votes)
  • 2%
    Bo Nix
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Michael Penix
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Carson Beck
    (12 votes)
  • 2%
    Other, below
    (10 votes)
491 votes total Vote Now