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The Envelopes, Please
Kelley King
December 15, 2003
With bowl season here, it's time to reveal our choices for the major awards—and a few awards of our own
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December 15, 2003

The Envelopes, Please

With bowl season here, it's time to reveal our choices for the major awards—and a few awards of our own

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From controversy to outstanding performances to surprises, this season had it all. As the BCS computers overheat, we give you our choices for the major awards, and throw in some categories of our own.

HEISMAN: Pittsburgh sophomore receiver Larry Fitzgerald stumbled in the Panthers' regular-season finale, catching only three passes in a 28-14 loss to Miami. But he was still the best player in the nation and had the statistics to back it up: 87 catches for 1,595 yards and an NCAA record of at least one touchdown reception in 18 consecutive games. That's why Fitzgerald gets the nod in a close race over Oklahoma quarterback Jason White.

DOAK WALKER (best running back): After rushing for just 26 yards in an early loss at Oregon, Michigan senior Chris Perry got stronger as the season wore on. Along with 1,589 rushing yards, Perry chipped in 42 catches.

OUTLAND (best interior lineman): Despite losing four starters from its offensive line, Iowa still produced a 1,000-yard rusher, thanks in (very) large part to 6'7", 320-pound senior tackle Robert Gallery, who also carries a 3.22 GPA in elementary education.

NAGURSKI (best defensive player): The most outstanding player on the nation's No. 2 defense, LSU senior tackle Chad Lavalais caused nightmares for opposing passers; he had 20 quarterback hurries and 15 tackles for loss.

THORPE (best defensive back): Arguably the best athlete in the college game, Miami junior free safety Sean Taylor almost beat Florida State single-handedly. For the season he had nine interceptions (he returned three for TDs) and 73 tackles.

BUTKUS (best linebacker): Oklahoma senior Teddy Lehman finds his way into every play; this season he had 109 tackles, including 16 for loss, and an interception.

COACH OF THE YEAR: All LSU'S Nick Saban has done is lead his defensive-minded team to a 12-1 record, a spot in the national title game and a second SEC title in three years. And by cornering the market on Bayou-area talent, the program should only keep rising.

BEST ASSISTANT: What do Southern Cal sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart and his Heisman-winning predecessor, Carson Palmer, have in common? Offensive coordinator Norm Chow, whose dazzling game plans have enabled the Trojans to score 40 or more points eight times this season.

BEST COMEBACK: In changing his life, Michigan State senior quarterback Jeff Smoker helped lift his team. Smoker, who was sidelined by a substance-abuse problem in 2002, returned to lead the Spartans (4-8 last season) to an 8-4 record.

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