2010 AWARDS - Better Late Than Never (Part II)

Continuing on in our Wednesday night Awards "Ceremony" here are the winners of our four biggest awards.

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.

(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.

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.

2010 AWARDS - Better Late Than Never (Part I)

It's been almost two weeks since the last college football game was played, so I think it's safe to say we here at Pike's Picks kept our word about not handing out our individual awards until after all the games have been played. You can click [HERE] for our list of finalists heading into the bowl games.

The Nation's Top Freshman
LaMichael James (RB, Oregon)

Runners Up: Dion Lewis (RB, Pittsburgh), Ryan Williams (RB, Virginia Tech)

This award was dominated by running backs in 2010. Oregon's LaMichael James separated himself from the rest of the pack with a strong second half. He also showed the kind of burst and acceleration that will make him a fixture in college football for the years to come.

The Ballhawk Award
Earl Thomas (S, Texas)

Runners Up: Eric Berry (S, Tennessee), Joe Haden (CB, Florida)

2009 winner Eric Berry came close to going back-to-back, but Earl Thomas, with 8 interceptions and 2 touchdowns, simply made more big plays than Berry did over the course of the season.

The Nation's Most Elusive Playmaking Skill Player
C.J. Spiller (RB/KR, Clemson)

Runners Up: Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, Oregon State), Jeremy Kerley (WR/KR, TCU)

This was a really tight race. Eventually I ended up voting for the player that scored the most touchdowns with only one shoe.

Our Favorite Quarterback
Tony Pike (QB, Cincinnati)

Runners Up: B.J. Daniels (QB, South Florida), Jerrod Johnson (QB, Texas A&M), Jeremiah Masoli (QB, Oregon), Josh Nesbitt (QB, Georgia Tech), Terrelle Pryor (QB, Ohio State)

Come on - did you really think anybody else had a chance? Pike played well enough all season to guide Cincinnati to an undefeated regular season and the program's second consecutive BCS Bowl. In an especially weak year for quarterbacks, this turned out to be a no-brainer.