2016 Preseason Award Projections: Jet 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 Jet Award is given to the best returner in college football. Last year’s winner was Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey.

Jet Award Winner:

Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

McCaffrey won the Jet Award last year, and I think he stands a good chance to repeat. In 2015, he averaged 29 yards per kick return with a touchdown on 37 kick returns. He also averaged 8.7 yards per punt return with a touchdown.

McCaffrey was a speedy play-maker who was threat to break off a long gain every time he touched the ball. Of the top returners in college football, McCaffrey is one of the few who returns both kickoffs and punts. Thus, he’s my pick to repeat as the Jet Award winner.

Jet Award Runner-Up:

Evan Berry, Tennessee

Last year, Berry put together a ridiculous average of 38.3 yards per kick return on 21 attempts. He also returned three kicks for touchdowns during the season. Berry hasn’t made a big impact on defense yet, but his special teams skills are undeniable. I would have him picked first if he also returned punts, but I think that Tennessee will look to get Berry the ball more, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets involved in punt returns. Cam Sutton was tremendous as a punt returner last year, but the Volunteers might want to protect Sutton and save him for defense since he’s their No.1 corner and Berry is more of a backup.

Jet Award Dark Horse:

Antonio Callaway, Florida

Callaway was a freshman sensation in 2015, averaging 16 yards per punt return and bringing back two punts for touchdowns. He had only three kickoff returns, and I’m not confident his role will expand there given how Florida needs him on offense. Still, the play-maker could be a top contender for the Jet Award.

Honorable Mentions: Tennessee’s Cam Sutton, Syracuse’s Brisley Estime, Washington’s Dante Pettis, Iowa’s Desmond King, Michigan’s Tre’Davious White, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, Duke’s Devon Edwards, Boston College’s Michael Walker and South Florida’s Rodney Adams.

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