Publish date:

Top of the Class

Awarding college football's best at each position in 2010 is as easy as Amukamara, Bowers, Carimi

With all due respect to this Saturday's renewal of the Army-Navy game, the 2010 regular season is complete, which means it's time to announce SI's picks for the end-of-the-season awards. And just as was the case with the major story lines from the year, this list is dominated by a running and passing quarterback from Auburn. The envelopes, please ...

HEISMAN (most outstanding player), MAXWELL (player of the year), DAVEY O'BRIEN (quarterback):

Cam NewtonAuburn, Jr.

The Tigers' junior college transfer emerged as the sport's most dominant dual-threat quarterback since Vince Young, ranking first nationally in pass efficiency (188.2) and 15th in rushing (108.4 yards per game) and leading Auburn to the BCS championship game. An NCAA rules violation in which his father, Cecil, solicited money from Mississippi State during his recruitment may give Heisman voters pause. But the NCAA has so far found no evidence of wrongdoing on the player's part and deemed his eligibility intact—the lone stated criteria on the Heisman ballot.

CHUCK BEDNARIK (defensive player):

Da'Quan BowersClemson, Jr.

The explosive, 6'4", 275-pound defensive end proved to be the season's fiercest pass rusher, piling up a nation's-best 151/2 sacks, the second-most tackles for loss (25) and a team-high 11 quarterback hurries.

BILETNIKOFF (receiver):

Justin BlackmonOklahoma State, Soph.

The Cowboys' breakout star had one of the most dazzling seasons ever by a receiver. He tied a Division I record with 11 consecutive games of at least 100 yards and one touchdown, which he can break in the Alamo Bowl.

BUTKUS (linebacker):

Luke KuechlyBoston College, Soph.

He was everywhere. The 6'3" 235-pounder made 171 tackles, which was best in the country and 20 more than his closest competitor.

LOU GROZA (kicker):

David RufferNotre Dame, Sr.

A walk-on who joined the Irish in midseason of 2008, after playing for his dorm's intramural team, Ruffer was perfect on 15 field goal attempts.

RAY GUY (punter):

Chas HenryFlorida, Sr.

With the demise of their offense the Gators counted on special teams this season. Henry led the nation with a 46.4-yard average and pinned 16 of his 44 kicks inside the opponent's 20.

OUTLAND (interior lineman):

Gabe CarimiWisconsin, Sr.

The latest in a long line of standout Badgers offensive tackles, the four-year starter helped Wisconsin reach the Rose Bowl by anchoring the nation's No. 4 scoring offense. Carimi faced three of the nation's top pass rushers (Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State's Cameron Heyward and Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan) and allowed just one sack.

JIM THORPE (defensive back):

Prince AmukamaraNebraska, Sr.

The Huskers' lockdown cornerback didn't intercept a pass, but that's because opponents rarely dared risk it. Before Saturday, he allowed just 13 completions on 43 passes thrown his way.

DOAK WALKER (running back):

LaMichael JamesOregon, Soph.

Despite serving a suspension for the first week of the season and sitting out fourth quarters of numerous Ducks blowouts, the part-time track star ranked first nationally in rushing (152.9 yards) and rushing touchdowns (21) and led his team to the BCS championship game.

Now on

Stewart Mandel answers readers' questions every Wednesday at



EAGLE EYES No player came close in tackles to the ubiquitous Kuechly, who has at least 10 stops in 21 straight games.