CFB Players of the Year by Conference
CFB player awards are never easy to decide upon and hand out. Going through all Power 5 and Group of 5 conferences and stats, I appreciate the varying skill sets and talent across the CFB landscape. I was tasked with selecting the CFB offensive and defensive players of the year for each of the 10 FBS conferences. Here are my selections.
Offensive: Hendon Hooker QB, Tennessee
Hendon Hooker deserves to be the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year. He led one of the most dynamic and explosive offenses in the country. He also helped lead the Volunteers to be ranked the No. 1 team in the country. Throwing for more than 3,100 yards with 27 touchdowns and two interceptions is a feat in itself–playing in the SEC.
Defensive: Will Anderson Jr. EDGE, Alabama
Will Anderson Jr., aka the “Terminator,” received the best opposing offenses could offer. Ultimately, it did not matter because he remained a dominant force. Anderson Jr. fell short of his 15.5 sacks from 2021, but not by much. He accounted for 14 sacks, nine QB hits, and 36 pressures. He was the best defender in 2022!
Offensive: Drake Maye QB, UNC
Drake Maye took the ACC by storm as the new kid on the block. In a conference with plenty of veteran quarterbacks, he played the best of them all. Maye threw for more than 4,000 yards with 34 touchdowns and seven interceptions—don’t forget about his 833 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He carried this Tar Heel team to national attention.
Defensive: Jared Verse EDGE, FSU
Florida State benefits from another explosive pass rusher joining the team through the transfer portal. Jared Verse was a big part of the Seminoles’ defensive success. He has been one of the more consistent defenders in the ACC. Verse finished the last five games with four sacks and 12 pressures.
Offensive: Blake Corum RB, Michigan
Blake Corum was the heart and soul of the Wolverines’ offense all season long. He helped carry his offense to an undefeated season. Corum eclipsed 100 yards rushing with at least one rushing touchdown in eight straight games. He was dominant!
Defensive: Devon Witherspoon CB, Illinois
Playing cornerback is one of the toughest jobs in football. Devon Witherspoon has played better than most corners in CFB, not just the Big Ten. He allowed 22 receptions on 64 targets giving up zero touchdowns. He also secured three interceptions and 14 pass breakups. An unreal performance.
Offensive: Max Duggan QB, TCU
Max Duggan was not the starting quarterback at the start of this season. After an injury, he took advantage of another opportunity and his dual-threat ability kept the team afloat when the passing attack was slowed. Duggan was consistent and willed his team to a near-undefeated season.
Defensive: Tyree Wilson EDGE, TTU
Tyree Wilson is one of the most unblockable CFB defenders. He had more than 30 pressures and eight sacks on the season. In a conference with high-volume passing attacks, Wilson continued to be a terror in 2022.
Offensive: Caleb Williams QB, USC
What can you say about Caleb Williams? A lot, that’s what. He was outstanding this season with more than 4,600 total yards from scrimmage and 47 touchdowns. Even without his leading receiver for a bit, Williams carried this team. USC went as Caleb Willaims did.
Defensive: Tuli Tuipulotu DL, USC
The Trojans’ defense was not great by any means. Tuli Tuipulotu was their best player and for good reason. Tuipulotu was able to anchor this defense and control the line of scrimmage. He is tied for the second-most sacks in the nation with 12.
Offensive: Tyjae Spears RB, Tulane
Tyjae Spears was one of the most impactful running backs in the country and the AAC. After rushing for nearly 1,400 yards with 15 touchdowns, Spears is a certified stud.
Defensive: Ivan Pace Jr. LB, Cincinnati
Relatively unknown entering the season, Ivan Pace Jr.’s 2022 season has been outstanding. He led the Bearcats’ defense with 84 tackles, 18 QB hits, and 11 sacks. It was an overall dominating performance from Pace Jr. this season.
Offensive: DeWayne McBride RB, UAB
DeWayne McBride is leading the nation in rushing and second in rushing touchdowns. He has dominated the competition and is the only choice for offensive player of the year in Conference USA.
Defensive: JaQues Evans EDGE, Western Kentucky
I admire what JaQues Evans was asked to do for his defense. He was all over the field rushing the passer, defending the run, and dropping into coverage. He was effective in each category. He made his presence felt for the opposing offense routinely.
Offensive: Kurtis Rourke QB, Ohio
It was an outstanding season for Kurtis Rourke, throwing for nearly 3,300 yards and 25 touchdowns. Rourke was accurate and poised, leading his team to a 7-1 conference record. Rourke was the best offensive player in the conference this season.
Defensive: Karl Brooks DL, Bowling Green
One of my favorite finds this season, Karl Brooks is tied for second in the nation with 12 sacks on the season. He was one of the most difficult defenders to block in this conference. He applied pressure on the inside and outside. Brooks was a stud this season.
Offensive: Brad Roberts RB, Air Force
The third-leading rusher in the nation, Brad Roberts had a tremendous season. In Air Force’s difficult-to-defend rushing attack, Roberts was the linchpin to their success. Teams came into games knowing he was getting the football and still could not stop him from gashing their defense.
Defensive: Viliami Fehoko EDGE, San Jose St.
Viliami Fehoko was a force off the edge of the San Jose State defense. His numbers support my case as the best defensive player in the Mountain West. Fehoko accounted for 12 sacks and 45 pressures—an unstoppable force for opposing offensive lines to deal with.
Offensive: Grayson McCall QB, Coastal Carolina
Grayson McCall had another strong season despite dealing with injuries. When he is under center for the Chanticleers, their offense is nearly guaranteed to score 30-plus points. His 24-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio proves how cognizant he is of ball security. This offense is not the same without McCall.
Defensive: Carlton Martial Troy, LB
It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the fight in the dog. Carlton Martial does not check ideal physical boxes but he is a tough impact player for Troy. He’s a relentless tackling machine with a nose for the football. This is evident by his 76 tackles, one fumble forced, and an interception this season. He has been the talk of the Sun Belt on defense all season.
- Jan 10, 2023
- Jan 06, 2023