Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (2) reacts after a touchdown run
Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M will face Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4 on FOX.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Chalk one up for the class of 2016. Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Manziel beat out Manti Te'o and Collin Klein and also became the first freshman to win the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. "Johnny Football," who passed for 3,419 yards and 24 TDs and posted an SEC-record 4,600 yards of total offense, led the Aggies to a 10-2 record and a Cotton Bowl berth. ... Oh, yeah, there was that 29-24 upset victory at then-No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 10.
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
The defensive leader of the No. 1 team in the country will need to make room for a big trophy case. The Fighting Irish senior increased his 2012 national awards total to six on Thursday night at the Home Depot College Football Awards show at Disney World. Te'o won the Maxwell Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding player, the Walter Camp National Player of the Year Award and the Bednarik Award, given to the most outstanding defensive player. Earlier in the week, the Hawaii native picked up the Butkus Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Lombardi Award. Te'o finished the regular season with 103 tackles and seven interceptions. His 12-0, top-ranked Irish will play No. 2 Alabama in the BCS Championship Game in South Florida on Jan. 7.
Luke Joeckel, OL, Texas A&M
Johnny Manziel wouldn’t be a Heisman finalist and the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback winner without Joeckel’s protection up front. Joeckel, a junior, took home the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation's outstanding interior lineman. Behind Joeckel and the rest of the offensive line, the Aggies averaged 235.1 rushing yards per game and ranked third in scoring offense at 44.8 points per game.
Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
Ball picked up the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's outstanding running back. Ball, who became the NCAA's all-time leader in touchdowns with 82 and also set a career mark for rushing TDs with 76, finished the regular season with 21 TDs and 1,730 yards. His 5,040 career rushing yards ranks fourth in the Big Ten and he became the 17th player in FBS history to surpass 5,000 yards. In the Big Ten Championship Game, the senior tailback rushed for 202 yards and three scores in the Badgers' 70-31 rout of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, earning a trip to face Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
The USC Trojan won the Biletnikoff Award for the nation's outstanding wide receiver, becoming the fifth sophomore since 2000 to win the honor. Lee, the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, finished the regular season with 112 catches for 1,680 yards, both Pac-12 records. He had 15 touchdowns and averaged 215.7 all-purpose yards a game. Lee also had 2,588 all-purpose yards — the third-highest total in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The 7-5 Trojans will play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.
Johnthan Banks, DB, Mississippi State
The senior won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. Banks, a first-team All-SEC selection, finished with 59 tackles, four interceptions and seven pass breakups for the 8-4 Bulldogs. Mississippi State will play Northwestern in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.
Ryan Allen, P, La. Tech
Allen won the Ray Guy Award for a second consecutive year. The senior recorded the highest punting average in the country at 48 yards per punt, totaling 2,162 yards for the season. The Bulldogs finished 9-3, dropping a midseason game to Texas A&M and their final two games to Utah State in overtime and to San Jose State in the regular-season finale.
Cairo Santos, K, Tulane
The junior kicker won the Lou Groza Collegiate Place Kicker Award. Santos, who was born in Brazil and attended St. Joseph Academy in St. Augustine, Fla., is the second kicker from Tulane to win the honor, joining Seth Marler in 2001. Santos converted all 21 of his field-goal attempts this year, including 12 kicks of 40 yards or longer for the Green Wave, who finished the season 2-10.
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Kelly was named the Coach of the Year after leading the Fighting Irish to their first 12-0 season since 1988. The Notre Dame coach is the first two-time winner, having previously claimed the award in 2009 while he was at Cincinnati. Kelly also joins Lou Holtz as the only Notre Dame coaches to post winning seasons in each of their first three seasons at the school. Next up: Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7.