2016 Preseason Award Projections: Hendricks Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2016 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next April for the 2017 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Ted Hendricks Award is given to the best defensive end in college football. Last year’s winner was Penn State defensive end Ryan Nassib.

Hendricks Award Winner:

Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Last year, Ryan Nassib came out of nowhere to be one of the top defensive ends in the nation. The Hendricks Award favors players with high levels of sack production, and Garrett easily could have won the award as a freshman or sophomore. He became an immediate superstar for the Aggies in 2014 and is a freaky athlete that could overwhelm the competition in 2016.

Garrett has dominated the best conference in college football since 2014, even breaking the NCAA freshman sack record previously set by Jadeveon Clowney with 11.5 sacks. Garrett also had 53 tackles and 14 for a loss that year. As a sophomore, he took his game to another level as even with teams sending extra blocking his direction, he continued to overwhelm the opposition. In 2015, Garrett had 59 tackles with 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, two passes batted and an interception. He was utterly unblockable in many games.

Even though Garrett sees double teams, he is too talented to be held in check. I think the Hendricks Award will be inclined to go with Garrett also because this is likely his last season of college football and the award voters will want him to be part of Hendricks Award’s history considering what he has accomplished in his collegiate career.

Hendricks Award Runner-Up:

Charles Harris, Missouri

Missouri has been a factory for edge rushing talent in recent years. With Kony Ealy, Michael Sam, Markus Golden and Shane Ray, the Tigers have produced consecutive pass-rushers that have been impact-making players in the SEC. With Golden and Ray off to the NFL in 2015, Missouri enjoyed a breakout season for Harris as a redshirt sophomore. He totaled 56 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and two forced fumbles on the year. Harris was a disruptive presence in the backfield and played well against good competition.

The redshirt junior is a fast edge rusher with a fantastic first-step. It wouldn’t surprise me if Harris ends up having a massive season and is one of the most prolific pass-rushers in the nation. He could easily win the Hendricks Award.

Hendricks Award Dark Horse:

Derek Barnett, Tennessee

As a freshman in 2014, Barnett set Tennessee records with a tremendous debut season in which he totaled 10 sacks, with 20.5 tackles for a loss and 72 tackles. Barnett’s play was consistent throughout his sophomore season as he racked up 69 tackles with 12.5 for a loss and 10 sacks. Aside from the sacks, Barnett put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. There is no reason to think that the 6-foot-3, 268-pound Barnett won’t continue to produce as a junior.

Honorable Mentions: Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes, Auburn’s Carl Lawson, Florida’s Bryan Cox Jr., Louisville’s Devonte Fields, LSU’s Lewis Neal, Florida State’s Demarcus Walker, Texas A&M’s Daeshon Hall, Alabama’s Ryan Anderson, Miami’s Chad Thomas, Utah’s Kyle Fitts, Utah’s Hunter Dimick, Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis, Florida’s CeCe Jefferson and LSU’s Arden Key.