2017 Preseason Award Projections: Jet Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2017 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 2018 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 USC’s Adoree’ Jackson.

Jet Award Winner:

Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

In all of college football, Kirk is probably the most dangerous player with the ball in his hands. Thus, I would expect the Aggies to get the ball to him as much as possible in what will probably be his final collegiate season. As a returner, Kirk took three punts for touchdowns last year with two punts taken for touchdowns as a freshman. He could have already won the Jet Award in past years.

Kirk also could work as a kick returner. He returned 22 kickoffs as a freshman and six as a sophomore, but with the Aggies’ offense losing a lot of talent to the NFL and having to break in a new quarterback this year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them get the Kirk the ball as much as possible and use him a lot on special teams. I think he’s the most likely player to win the Jet Award this season.

Jet Award Runner-Up:

Evan Berry, Tennessee

Berry could easily win the Jet Award as well. He is the active leader in kickoff-return average with a tremendous 34.2 yards per return. Berry figures to continue to dominate on special teams as a senior, and regardless of what he does on defense, he could win the Jet Award just because he is so dynamic as a kickoff returner.

Jet Award Dark Horse:

Antonio Callaway, Florida

The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Callaway is a lightning fast play-maker and one of the most dangerous players in college football. He is a dynamic punt returner who carves up even good special teams units. Callaway has averaged 12 yards per punt return over his first two seasons with two returned for touchdowns. This is a huge year for Callaway to produce as a wide receiver and returner if he wants to be a first-round pick. The Gators are optimistic that their offense will be better this year, and getting Callaway the ball on punt returns will help provide them with good field position. He definitely could end up winning the Jet Award.

Honorable Mentions: Pittsburgh wide receiver Quadree Henderson, San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, Nebraska wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El and Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis.

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