Forecasting defensive and special teams awards

In the second half of the college football awards preview, we wrap things up on the defensive side of the ball, as well as special teams.

Here's a look at the favorites to take home some of the nation's most coveted hardware.

DICK BUTKUS AWARD - Jarvis Jones, Georgia

The 2011 consensus All-American heads a Georgia defense that may not have gotten the attention of LSU or Alabama but certainly was potent last year, ranking fifth in total defense nationally. Jones was a huge part of that. A disruptive force that collected 13.5 sacks and 19.5 TFLs while finishing second on the team in total tackles (70). Those numbers that compare favorably to those of 2010 Butkus Award winner and current NFL star Von Miller. That's pretty good company for the junior and more reason to keep opposing SEC offensive coordinators and quarterbacks up at night.

RUNNER UP - Khaseem Greene, Rutgers

DARK HORSE - James Morris, Iowa

JIM THORPE AWARD - Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

For the past two seasons this award has gone to a cornerback out of Baton Rouge and in 2012 that streak is likely to continue. Mathieu finished fifth in the 2011 Heisman voting but a big part of that was his explosiveness on returns. That doesn't mean that the "honey badger" couldn't play defense. In fact Mathieu was probably the best defensive player for the Tigers last season, tying for the team lead in tackles (76), while ranking second with 11 passes defended and two interceptions. Where he is most dangerous is causing turnovers creating a team-high six forced fumbles, and recovering four last season. His aggressive style should pay dividends yet again.

RUNNER UP - David Amerson, NC State

DARK HORSE - Jordan Poyer, Oregon State

BRONKO NAGURSKI AWARD - Jarvis Jones, Georgia

The Nagurski award is awarded to the most outstanding defensive player but has traditionally been reserved for a linebacker or defensive lineman. Jones is the best linebacker in the country coming into the season after a 2011 consensus All-American season and beats out some other notable names on defensive lines and linebacking units across the nation.

RUNNER UP - Sam Montgomery, LSU

DARK HORSE - Joe Vellano, Maryland

CHUCK BEDNARIK - Jarvis Jones, Georgia

The Bednarik Trophy is similar to the Nagurski in that it is awarded to the defensive player of the year, but there has been a bit more variety in the positions that have taken the trophy. Last season Mathieu captured the award and even though he returns this season, Jones is on the cusp of erupting this year and with one of the more talented Georgia rosters in recent years, the Bulldogs could unseat LSU and Alabama as the power in the SEC. If that happens Jones should in turn unseat Mathieu.

RUNNER UP - Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

DARK HORSE - Star Lotulelei, Utah

LOU GROZA AWARD - Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State

Versatility is not a word that is often throw around when discussing place- kickers, but with Quinn Sharp it is a fitting adjective. Sharp has one of the strongest legs in the country thanks in large part to also handling the punting duties for the Cowboys. Sharp knocked in 22-of-25 field goal attempts last season with 61 touchbacks on 114 kickoffs, all while averaging 46.3 yards per punt. With his strength and accuracy and an abundance of opportunities in Mike Gundy's high-octane offense, Sharp should become the second Oklahoma State kicker in the last three years to win the award.

RUNNER UP - Caleb Sturgis, Florida

DARK HORSE - Andre Heidari, USC


In LSU's regular season victory over Alabama in 2011 Winger might have been the most important player on the field. Odd thing to say about a punter, especially a freshman in such a huge game but Winger held up punting the ball a season-high six times four of which pinned the Crimson Tide within their own 20 and two inside the 10. Overall Wing earned All-American honors averaging 44.4 yards per punt and 20 punts of more than 50 yards. Even though 2011 Ray Guy Award winner Ryan Allen will be back, Wing is the favorite this season.

RUNNER UP - Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech

DARK HORSE - Brian Schmiedebusch, Bowling Green