BO JACKSON TROPHY
The Nation's Top Offensive Player
Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)
Runners Up: Golden Tate (WR, Notre Dame), Toby Gerhart (RB, Stanford)
I'll be honest - if I had handed out this award at the end of the regular season it would have gone to Golden Tate. But after Mark Ingram's performance in the National Championship game it's hard to argue there is anyone better. Ingram has that rare Ricky Williams-esque combination of size and speed that was on full display against the number one rush defense in the nation.
Tate still finished a close second place because his ball skills are the best I've seen since Larry Fitzgerald. He is obviously the best deep threat in America and should be a great pro despite being a little undersized.
MARK HERZLICH TROPHY
(formerly the LaVar Arrington Trophy)
The Nation's Top Defensive Player
Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska)
Runners Up: Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, South Florida), Rolondo McClain (LB, Alabama)
From about October on there was really no doubt who would take home the Herzlich. Suh was easily the most dominating defensive player in the land, and actually ended up being one of the best defensive players of the decade. He's as good as it gets on the defensive line.
The runners up were tough to choose. If you didn't see junior college transfer Jason Pierre-Paul play in 2009 you missed your opportunity. The freakishly athletic defensive end decided to take his game to the next level where you'll no doubt hear his name. McClain is as good a linebacker as you could hope to find too.
MARSHALL FAULK TROPHY
The Best Player Not in a BCS Conference
Jerry Hughes (DE, TCU)
Runners Up: Dan LeFevour (QB, Central Michigan), Van Eskridge (DB, East Carolina), Freddie Barnes (WR, Bowling Green), Ryan Mathews (RB, Fresno State), Joe Webb (QB, UAB)
Hughes controlled the line of scrimmage for much of TCU's 12-1 season and went wire to wire as the favorite to win this award. Forgive me for not including Case Keenum and his clownish stats, but he failed to show up in a couple of Houston's big losses this season. Kellen Moore was the QB for the best non-AQ team, but I don't think he was even the best player on his own team (that honor lies somewhere in the defensive secondary).
The Nation's Top Special Teams Player
Mardy Gilyard (RET, Cincinnati)
Runners Up: C.J. Spiller (KR, Clemson), Zoltan Mesko (P, Michigan), Brandon Banks (RET, Kansas State), Caleb Sturgis (PK, Florida)
Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard won this award not only for his prowess in the return game, but for his knack of making big plays when his team needed him the most. His touchdown return in the Pittsburgh game spurred a furious rally that ended with the Bearcats protecting their undefeated regular season.
Brandon Banks and C.J. Spiller had fantastic seasons as return men for their respective teams. Spiller set the career record for career kickoffs returned for touchdown (7), while Banks returned 4 kickoffs for touchdown in 2009, including an NCAA tying two in one game.
Meanwhile, Zoltan Mesko capped a brilliant career as one of the best punters ever with one of the best names ever. Florida's Caleb Sturgis impressed with timely place kicking and the poise to calm his excited teammates after big kicks he made.