2012 Fansided Awards: Te’o, O’Brien & Manziel Headline

Editors from around the Fansided college network submitted their nominees for the nation’s best in the 2012 football season. Honored are the premiere individuals of the season on offense, defense and special teams, as well as the nation’s top coach and the year’s best game.


OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Texas A&M freshman quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel received top honors among Fansided editors as the nation’s top offensive performer. The dual threat quarterback rushed and passed for 4600 yards, setting a single season record Cam Newton had established just two years earlier.

Manziel’s meteoric rise was about more than his stellar play. Manziel was a rock star, partying on Halloween with coeds, sporting a memorable nickname and leading his team past top ranked Alabama.

RUNNERS-UP

  • Marqise Lee, WR, USC

    USC wide receiver Marqise Lee caught for 1680 yards and 14 touchdowns. His prolific play earned Lee the fourth most votes for this year’s Heisman Trophy, the most a wide receiver has garnered since Larry Fitzgerald was runner-up in 2003.

  • Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State

    Senior K-State quarterback Collin Klein’s smash mouth rushing style set up his ability to unleash the pass. Klein led the Wildcats to their first Big 12 championship since 2003 with 15 passing touchdowns and 22 through the air.

  • Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois

    Jordan Lynch led Northern Illinois to 12 straight wins, the MAC championship and a berth in the Orange Bowl. His 24 passing and 19 rushing touchdowns match the same totals Johnny Manziel recorded (albeit in one more game).

  • Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

    One of the nation’s breakout stars and leading rushers, Johnathan Franklin helped UCLA to the Pac-12 South title and an appearance in the conference championship game with 1700 yards and 13 touchdowns.


DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame

Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te’o captained the nation’s No. 1 defense to a perfect regular season and Notre Dame to its first championship game since 1988. Te’o intercepted seven passes, second most among all players in the FBS. He was also the Fighting Irish’s leading tackler with 103.

Te’o surprised both NFL and college pundits last winter when he announced his intent to return to South Bend. His return sparked the Irish’s march back to national prominence.

RUNNERS-UP

  • Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

    Georgia’s aggressively blitzing sack machine Jarvis Jones brought opposing quarterbacks down in the backfield 12.5 times. Jones led the nation with seven forced fumbles, and tackles for loss with 22.5.

  • Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State

    Phillip Thomas led the nation with eight interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns.

  • Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State

    Mike Mauti led a top 25 rushing and scoring defense with an aggressive, ball pursuit style. He finished with 95 tackles in 11 games, and led the Nittany Lions with three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

  • Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

    South Carolina super sophomore Jadeveon Clowney led all BCS conference players in sacks with 13, and his 21.5 tackles for loss were second in all of college football behind only Jarvis Jones.


SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Reggie Dunn, Utah

The speedy senior out of Compton, Calif. led the nation with four kickoff returns for touchdowns. He had two of 100 yards in the Utes’ win over Cal.

RUNNERS-UP

  • Marqise Lee, USC

    USC’s standout sophomore averaged over 28 yards per kickoff return, and took one back for a touchdown.

  • Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech

    The Ray Guy Award winner was a secret weapon of the nation’s highest scoring team. Ryan Allen averaged 48 yards per punt and excelled at pinning opponents inside their own 20.

  • De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon

    De’Anthony Thomas returned a punt for a touchdown, and averaged more than 17 yards per attempt. He also worked in kick returns, averaging 19.2 yards per attempt.

  • Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

    Electric Tar Heel running back Giovani Bernard returned two punts for touchdowns. One was a game winner to defeat rival NC State.

  • Duke Johnson, Miami

    Miami freshman Duke Johnson had a great debut season, which included two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Johnson averaged nearly 32 yards per return opportunity.

  • Mike Sadler, Michigan State

    Sparty punter Mike Sadler got plenty of work with 68 attempts, and he made good with an average of nearly 44 yards.

  • Jeff Locke, UCLA

    Jeff Locke set up the stout UCLA defense with an accurate boot. He produced over 43 yards per kick.

  • Mike Edwards, Hawai’i

    Warrior kick returner Mike Edwards brought back over 1200 yards on his 40 opportunities, including three for touchdowns.


COACH OF THE YEAR
Bill O’Brien, Penn State

Bill O’Brien left coordinating the NFL’s premiere offense and stepped into an unprecedent situation at Penn State. NCAA sanctions gutted the Nittany Lion roster, seemingly relegating a PSU already headed down a long, difficult road to the bottom of the Big Ten.

Lo and behold, O’Brien guided a surprise 8-4 campaign, that included an 8-2 finish after starting 0-2. It’s easy to look like a quarterback guru coordinating Tom Brady, but O’Brien worked magic in developing Matt McGloin into one of the nation’s most productive quarterbacks.

RUNNERS-UP

  • Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

    In his first season with Texas A&M, and the Aggies’ first as a member of the vaunted SEC, Kevin Sumlin led his team to 10 wins. Among them was a road upset of top ranked Alabama.

    Sumlin’s spread offense thrived in the SEC, and produced the Heisman Trophy winner, defying expectations of how such a system would work in the defense-oriented conference.

  • Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

    Brian Kelly led Notre Dame’s return to prominence. The Fighting Irish was the nation’s best defense under Kelly’s staff.

  • Nick Saban, Alabama

    The defending national champion Crimson Tide lost multiple starters to the NFL, yet missed no beat on its return to the BCS title game.

  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State

    The oldest coach in college football showed the younger crowd a thing or two, leading a group of unheralded recruits and various other misfits to a Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl berth.

  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State

    Urban Meyer took over a program serving NCAA sanctions and coming off a losing season. All he did was go undefeated and cultivate sophomore Braxton Miller’s dual threat quarterbacking abilities.


GAME OF THE YEAR
The SEC Championship: Alabama vs. Georgia

Highly anticipated match-ups don’t always live up to the hype, but the SEC championship pitting Alabama against Georgia did that and more.

Labeled the de facto BCS semifinal, the winner was guaranteed a shot at Notre Dame on Jan. 6. Both teams played like their championship lives rested on a victory. The lead was exchanged three times in the fourth quarter, and nearly a fourth.

Aaron Murray’s final pass fell just short of the goal line, ultimately making a great individual performance for naught. Conversely, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron struggled much of the game until unleashing the decisive score on a bomb to Amari Cooper.

RUNNERS-UP

  • Texas A&M vs. Alabama

    Johnny Manziel staked his claim to the Heisman and Texas A&M proved its worth to the SEC with a 29-24 upset of No. 1 Alabama.

  • Stanford vs. Oregon

    The road to the BCS title game was pretty clearly mapped out for Oregon, but a road block the high powered Ducks did not anticipate was Stanford’s stingy defense. The Cardinal forced overtime and capitalized on a missed field go win, 17-14.

  • Notre Dame vs. Pitt

    Notre Dame’s championship dreams were all but dashed in the fourth quarter against Pitt, but freshman quarterback Everett Golson led a 23-6 outpouring in the final stanza and overtime that kept the Irish’s BCS dreams alive.

  • Texas A&M vs. Louisiana Tech

    The legend of Johnny Manziel began in the unlikeliest of locales: Shreveport, La. Texas A&M had to withstand a late rally from Louisiana Tech’s potent offense.

  • UL-Monroe vs. Arkansas

    A preseason pick to spoil the SEC West party, Arkansas saw would-be cupcake UL-Monroe storm back from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter, forcing overtime. The eventual Warhawk win put Kolton Browning on the national stage, and powered ULM to its first bowl game in program history.

Topics: Alabama Crimson Tide, Football, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Penn State Nittany Lions, Texas A&M Aggies, Utah Utes

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