2020 Preseason Award Projections: Mackey Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2020 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 stars of next fall could be the headlining players next April in the 2021 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Mackey Award is given to the top tight end in college football. I had a run where I correctly predicted the Mackey Award winner for five straight yearsm getting it right with Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tyler Eifert, Nick O’Leary, Hunter Henry, and Jake Butt. The streak ended in 2018 when Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews won the award. I had Andrews as the dark horse selection with our prediction of Troy Fumagalli winning the award being incorrect. We have been off since then with T.J. Hockenson and Harrison Bryant being the most recent Mackey Award winners.

Mackey Award Winner:

Kyle Pitts, Florida

Kyle Pitts was one of the breakout players of the SEC in 2019, producing an excellent season. After serving as a backup in 2018, Pitts exploded on the scene as a sophomore. In 2019, he hauled in 54 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns. The season could have been bigger; however, Florida had a deep stable of receivers to spread the ball around, although Pitts produced a lot of big plays for the Gators. A number of those receivers along with feature back Lamical Perine moved to the NFL, but Gators starting quarterback Kyle Trask could be improved now that he has a year of experience. Thus, Pitts could be in store for a huge 2020 season.

As a receiver, Pitts is special. He is fast for a tight end and really fires off the ball to get into the secondary. Not only is Pitts fast to find openings downfield, but he is a smooth mover who glides through the defense and is able to generate separation from his route-running as well. Pitts has impressive suddenness and explosiveness for a tight end, and really he moves like a big wide receiver. Pitts uses his tall and long frame to make catches over defensive backs and he is dangerous in the red zone with his size mismatch ability. Pitts has solid hands, and with his great athleticism, he makes some difficult catches look easy. After the catch, his speed and agility allow him to pick up good yardage, and he had some superb runs after the catch as a sophomore.

The biggest area for Pitts to improve as a junior is his blocking ability. However, college awards often ignore well-rounded play and blocking ability in favor of receiving production. Pitts could be the top receiving tight end in college football in 2020 with a senior quarterback and quality talent around him. I think Pitts could be the nation’s best tight end and earn the Mackey Award.

Mackey Runner-Up:

Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M

Wydermyer (6-5, 260) created a buzz with scouts for having a good skill with a ton of upside during the 2019 season. The Aggies staff raved about Wydermyer to NFL evaluators coming through College Station. In 2019, he totaled 32 receptions for 447 yards and six touchdowns.

Wydermyer has good size to him with speed and athleticism. Now that he has experience, he could be even better. Additionally, the Aggies lost a couple of receivers to the 2020 NFL Draft, and Wydermyer has a talented senior quarterback in Kellen Mond to work with. This could be a huge year for Wydermyer, and it would not be surprising if Jimbo Fisher leans on him heavily in the passing game. Wydermyer is a top candidate to win the Mackey Award.

Mackey Dark Horse:

Brevin Jordan, Miami

After a strong freshman season, Jordan is helping to invigorate Miami as ‘tight end U’. The Las Vegas, Nevada product had 32 receptions for 287 yards with four touchdowns in 2018. In 2019, the sophomore recorded 35 catches for 495 yards and two touchdowns. He is capable of producing more, but Miami have been inconsistent at getting him the ball. Jordan (6-4, 245) could be a top candidate for awards, but the Hurricanes needs more consistency at quarterback and in their passing attack.

Honorable Mentions: Bowling Green’s Quintin Morris, Colorado State’s Trey McBride, BYU’s Matt Bushman, Wisconsin’s Jake Ferguson and Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth.

2020 Preseason All-American Projections:
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P

2020 Preseason Postseason Award Projections:
Thorpe Award | Biletnikoff Award | Outland Trophy | Rimington Trophy | Mackey Award | O'Brien Award | Doak Walker Award | Jet Award | Walter Camp Award

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