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December 6, 2007

Tebow takes Maxwell, O'Brien awards

MORE: Rivals.com 2007 Awards Watch | College Football Awards History

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Florida sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow received the prestigious Maxwell Award over Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden and Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon at the College Football Awards show Thursday night, but a recent trend shows that coronation also could be a consolation.

"It's a great award. I'm just thankful for it," Tebow said.

Tebow, also presented the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's premier quarterback at the Walt Disney World Resort, hopes to add the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night. But the Maxwell-Heisman double achievement is becoming increasingly rare, and the Heisman voting between Tebow and McFadden is expected to be close.

The Maxwell Award, annually presented to the nation's best all-around player, once was a frequent precursor to the Heisman Trophy. Lately, though, it's just been a curse.

Both honors were presented to the same individual 14 times in 19 seasons from 1981-99, but the past seven Maxwell recipients did not win the Heisman, which adds another element of uncertainty to Saturday night's Heisman ceremonies.

While the Maxwell Award hasn't been a recent indicator of Heisman success, Tebow can at least glean encouragement from the fact that 2006 Heisman recipient Troy Smith of Ohio State also won last year's O'Brien Award.

"Lord willing, I will come home (from New York) with another trophy," Tebow said. "Who knows? I just want to enjoy the experience. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Well, maybe not. Tebow does have two years of eligibility remaining after this season, and he indicated to a group of reporters that he intended to play four seasons at Florida.

This season, Tebow became the first player in NCAA Division I-A history to exceed 20 touchdowns rushing and passing in the same year. He passed for 3,122 yards with 29 touchdowns and rushed for 838 yards and 22 TDs in helping the Gators to a 9-3 record.

Meanwhile, McFadden, who rushed for 1,725 yards and 15 touchdowns, won the Doak Walker Award signifying the nation's top running back for the second consecutive year, joining Texas' Ricky Williams as the only players to accomplish that feat. He also hopes to join Williams as a Heisman Trophy winner.

"I feel like it's up for grabs," McFadden said. "But at the same time, I feel like I'm deserving of it."

McFadden was the Heisman runner-up last year. He enhanced his candidacy this year with a 321-yard performance against South Carolina and a 206-yard effort in an upset victory over LSU.

Thursday's winners
Winner's of college football awards presented Thursday evening:
Maxwell Award - Best all-around player
Tim Tebow, Florida, QB
Chuck Bednarik Trophy - Best defensive player
Dan Connor, Penn State, LB
Outland Trophy - Best interior lineman
Glenn Dorsey, LSU, DT
Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award
Tim Tebow, Florida
Doak Walker Award - Best running back
Darren McFadden, Arkansas
Fred Biletnikoff Award - Best wide receiver
Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
Jim Thorpe Award - Best defensive back
Antoine Cason, Arizona
Lou Groza Collegiate - Place-kicker award
Thomas Weber, Arizona State
Ray Guy Award - Best punter
Durant Brooks, Georgia Tech
The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award
Mark Mangino, Kansas
Disney's Wide World of Sports Spirit Award
"This year, I just feel like I've been around more for the Heisman," McFadden said. "Last year, I came in late. I feel like I put in the work this year. I feel like I'm right up there with it."

An informal poll by StiffArmTrophy.com, a Web site devoted to the Heisman, projects that Tebow will become the first sophomore recipient.

Some college football observers felt LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, who chose to return to Baton Rouge for his senior reason rather than enter the NFL draft, should have been a Heisman contender. Instead, he settled Thursday for winning the Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman. He also will play in the BCS National Championship Game when LSU meets Ohio State on Jan. 7.

"This is what I came back my senior year for -- my team to be in the national championship and getting recognized off the field with individual awards and stuff like that," Dorsey said. "It's been an amazing year."

Dorsey posted 64 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He managed that despite playing with a lower back injury and a leg injury he sustained on an illegal block against Auburn.

"It makes it a whole lot more rewarding, for people to still consider me one of the top players at what I do," Dorsey said. "And I was basically on one leg the last half of the season."

Among the other awards presented Thursday was the Chuck Bednarik Trophy to the nation's best defensive player, which went to Penn State linebacker Dan Connor. Connor's honor marked the third consecutive season a Penn State linebacker won the Bednarik Award. Former Nittany Lion Paul Posluszny won the previous two years.

"To be named the top defensive player is really an unbelievable honor," Connor said. "I'm still in shock. It just hasn't sunk in."

Also presented was the Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver) to Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, the Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back) to Arizona's Antoine Cason, the Lou Groza Award (top kicker) to Arizona State's Thomas Weber and the Ray Guy Award (best punter) to Georgia Tech's Durant Brooks.

Winning the Thorpe Award was a big prize for Cason, who also shunned the NFL draft to return for his senior season.

"It (entering the draft) was real close," Cason said. "It was tough to come back, but I felt that I still had some things I wanted to accomplish. Definitely, this was one of those things. There's a big smile on my face."

Kansas coach Mark Mangino also was smiling after being honored as the nation's coach of the year following a school-record 11-win season.

USC tight end Fred Davis was the winner of the John Mackey Award (best tight end), Arkansas' Jonathan Luigs won the Rimington Trophy (outstanding center) and Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Heacock won the Frank Broyles Award (top assistant coach). Those awards were presented earlier this week.

McFadden headed the Walter Camp All-American team as the group's player of the year.

The offense: Tebow at quarterback, UCF's Kevin Smith and McFadden at running back, Crabtree and Kansas State's Jordy Nelson at wide receiver, Wisconsin's Travis Beckum at tight end, Luigs at center and linemen Sam Baker of USC, Anthony Collins of Kansas, Tony Hills of Texas and Jake Long of Michigan. John Sullivan of New Mexico was the kicker.

The defense: Dorsey, USC's Sedrick Ellis, Virginia's Chris Long and USF's George Selvie as linemen; Connor, Ohio State's James Laurinaitis and Colorado's Jordon Dizon at linebacker; and a secondary of Cason, LSU's Craig Steltz, Boston College's Jamie Silva and Kansas' Aqib Talib. Cincinnati's Kevin Huber was the punter, and Arkansas' Felix Jones was the return man.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.



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