2013 Preseason Award Projections: Walter Camp Award

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2013 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 this coming fall’s stars could be the headline players next April for the 2014 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Walter Camp Award is given to the Player of the Year in college football. Last year’s winner was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.

Walter Camp Award Winner:

Braxton Miller, Ohio State

One mistake I could be making with these postseason award projections is not projecting Miller to bring home more hardware. He’s a runner and a thrower in a spread-option offense, and could put up staggering numbers in 2013. Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer has produced massive years for signal-callers in the past at Utah with Alex Smith and at Florida with Tim Tebow. Miller has the skill set and the easy schedule to produce a dominant year with a huge stat line.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Miller is a great athlete with play-making ability. His completion percentage last year rose to 58 percent as he threw for 2,039 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. The sophomore also picked up 1,271 yards and 13 touchowns on the ground. Miller saw his first action as a freshman in 2011 and completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,159 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He ran for 951 yards (715 net) and seven touchdowns, too.

Everyone expects Miller to build on his sophomore year performance in 2013. The junior could produce a season of around 4,000 total yards and 40 all-purpose touchdowns. It wouldn’t be surprising if he carries the Buckeyes to another undefeated season and is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Also, the Walter Camp Award has had an inclination to go with Ohio State players as four have won it in the past; only USC has had more winners (6). Miller could end up being one of the most productive and best players in college football in 2013. Thus, he’s my pick for the Walter Camp Award.

Walter Camp Award Runner-Up:

Tajh Boyd, Clemson

The Camp Award has been inclined to go with quarterbacks. Running backs have done well, but Te’o broke a streak of four straight wins by quarterbacks. Boyd, another quarterback, should produce a massive senior season and nobody would be surprised if he wins the Walter Camp Award.

College football’s coaches selected Boyd as the First-Team All-American quarterback last year. It was a bit of a surprise as the junior was selected over Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Kansas State’s Collin Klein, West Virginia’s Geno Smith and many other quality signal-callers. While it shocked some that Boyd was the pick, it made a lot of sense. He carried Clemson to an 11-2 record despite an awful defense and a suspect offensive line. Boyd was, simply put, excellent.

The second-year starter dominated the ACC in 2012 and put up huge totals on a weekly basis. Boyd completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,896 yards with 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also ran well with 769 yards (514 net) and 10 touchdowns on the ground. To end the season, Boyd took a pounding from LSU’s defensive front seven, but led Clemson to a fourth-quarter comeback win in the final seconds.

The Tigers have lost No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the NFL, but they still have good talent at the skill positions led by speedy play-maker Sammy Watkins. Boyd plays in a weak conference, so he should have no problems lighting up weak ACC defenses in 2013. I think there is a good chance that the senior repeats with another impressive season that carries his team to a good record. I think Boyd’s numbers will be more impressive than Manziel’s or Bridgewater’s. Thus, Boyd is my runner-up for the Camp Award.

Walter Camp Award Dark Horse:

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Bridgewater is the top quarterback in the nation from an NFL prospect perspective. While the junior is a polished passer with good physical tools, he may not produce a massive 2013 season in terms of numbers. The Cardinals have an easy schedule with their toughest opponents during the regular season being Rutgers and Cincinnati. That could result in Bridgewater only passing the ball for two or three quarters in most contests since Louisiville could have a lot of comfortable leads during its Big East conference schedule and choose to chew the clock by running the ball.

Bridgewater completed 68.5 percent of his passes last year for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The sophomore ran for 237 yards (211 net) and a touchdown as well. He was highly efficient and made good decisions.

Defenses will be aiming to stop Bridgewater this year, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they play their safeties deep to try and take away his ability to burn them downfield. That could open up a lot of running room and Louisville likes to run the ball. As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising if Bridgewater’s passing totals are lower than some might expect.

While Bridgewater may not receive the accolades of other quarterbacks, he looks likely to be picked ahead of them when he enters the 2014 or 2015 NFL Draft. Considering the stiff competition, Bridgewater would have to be considered a dark horse for this season’s Walter Camp Award even though he is the top quarterback prospect for the NFL.

Honorable Mentions: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.

San Jose State quarterback David Fales, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Washington quarterback Keith Price.

Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Florida running back Matt Jones, Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey, Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas, Oklahoma running back Damien Williams, Florida State running back James Wilder, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, Texas A&M running back Ben Malena, Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins, LSU running back Stephen Hill, Miami running back Duke Williams and Washington running back Bishop Sankey.

USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews, BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman, Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff, UCLA wide receiver Shaq Harris, LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson, Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker and Alabama wide receiver Kenny Bell.

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