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Pac 12 Players Named Finalists For Postseason Awards

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Pac 12 Players Named Finalists For Postseason Awards

Marqise Lee Victory

While the Pac 12 saw its chances of being represented in the BCS national title game take a major hit this weekend, the conference still has plenty to hang their hat on. The Pac 12 has been home to some of the top college football players this season who are now being recognized for it. The finalists for college football postseason awards were announced and five Pac 12 players made the cut.

The five players are spread across three awards, all on the offensive side of the ball at skill positions. The conference boasts two candidates for both the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back, and the Mackey Award, which is given to college football’s best tight end. The final nominee is up for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes the nation’s best wide receiver.

The selections recognize the conference for the incredible talent that it has in the skill positions. There were plenty of other quality candidates that were left off in favor of these finalists, but nobody can argue against the accomplishments of those chosen.

The Pac 12 players have an excellent shot at sweeping the awards they are up for this year. For the Doak Walker and Mackey awards, they have numbers, representing two-thirds of the candidates in addition to the phenomenal seasons the players have put up. For the Bilietnikoff, the Pac 12’s representative has been head and shoulders above the competition all season long and should walk away with the award.

The awards will be given out during the Home Depot College Football Awards on December 6, but before that, let’s run down the candidates and the incredible campaigns they’ve put together in 2012.

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Mackey Award: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Washington Huskies

Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Steven Bisig - US PRESSWIRE

Austin Seferian-Jenkins has put together a very good season for the Washington Huskies. He leads the team in receiving with 753 yards while catching 58 passes and scoring five touchdowns. The 6-foot-6 sophomore was picked to be one of the best tight ends in the Pac 12, and he has not disappointed.

Seferian-Jenkins has caught at least one pass in every game this season, highlighted by an eight-catch, 154-yard performance against the Cal Bears in Berkeley. The big target averaged nearly 20 yards per catch and scored a touchdown on the night, leading the Huskies to the 21-13 win.

While some of the other Huskies’ playmakers have disappointed this season, Seferian-Jenkins has been a constant source of production for Steve Sarkisian’s offense. He’s a major reason why the Dawgs are on the verge of their first eight-win season since 2001 and will have NFL scouts lined up around the block when he eventually declares for the draft.

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Mackey Award: Zach Ertz, TE Stanford Cardinal

Zach Ertz
Joe Nicholsson - US PRESSWIRE

The Stanford Cardinal had to replace a lot of weapons from last year’s squad that left for the NFL. The transition hasn’t been so smooth in some positions, but one spot where it was seamless was at tight end as Zach Ertz has stepped in and been a presence from day one.

The 6-foot-6 junior stepped into the full-time role for the first time this season and has produced immediate dividends. He’s made 58 catches on the year for 747 yards with 6 touchdowns. He’s caught at least one pass in every game this year, highlighted by a six-catch, 134-yard performance against Cal where he scored an 68-yard touchdown, his longest of the season.

Ertz has been considered one of the top tight end prospects in the country all season. He hasn’t disappointed with his performance this year and has only elevated his stock for when he decided to turn pro.

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Doak Walker Award: Kenjon Barner, RB Oregon Ducks

Kenjon Barner

The Oregon Ducks have blown past opponents this season using a fast-paced offense predicated on breaking off big runs and gassing opposing defenses. Kenjon Barner has been the workhorse of this offense and has run Chip Kelly’s home-run hitting philosophy to near perfection.

Barner’s 1,426 yards rushing rank sixth in the nation this year and he is second in yards per rush at 6.48 ypc. He’s scored an incredible 19 touchdowns on the ground this season. His most memorable moment came in the Coliseum against the USC Trojans when he torched the men of Troy for 321 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Coming into the season, the attention for the Oregon backfield was focused on De’Anthony Thomas. But it has been Barner who has stepped up and led the Ducks’ attack. He’s been slowed down a bit lately, averaging just 3.3 and 3.1 yards per carry in his last two games respectively with no touchdowns, but his body of work is more than enough to earn him a finalist spot for the Doak Walker.

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Doak Walker Award: Jonathan Franklin, RB UCLA Bruins

Jonathan Franklin
Andrew B. Fielding - US PRESSWIRE

The UCLA Bruins have been the biggest surprise in the Pac 12 this season under first year head coach Jim Mora. Many people saw this program as a rebuilding team, but instead became the Pac 12 South champions and running back Jonathan Franklin is a big reason for the quick turnaround.

Franklin ranks fourth in total rushing with 1,441 yards this season, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and scoring 10 touchdowns. He’s rushed for 100 yards or more in eight of 11 games this season, highlighted by a 171-yard, two-touchdown performance to carry the Bruins over USC.

The senior running back has found new life under Mora that he has turned into a phenomenal 2012 season. He’s been the tough-running engine that has made the Bruins’ offense go this season.

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Biletnikoff Award: Marqise Lee, WR USC Trojans

Marqise Lee

The USC Trojans have been disappointed with the way their 2012 season has played out, but one person that should not be down is wide receiver Marqise Lee. The Trojans number one wideout has been a beast all season long and Lane Kiffin has made sure to feed him the rock.

On the year, Lee leads the nation with 107 catches for 1,605 yards. He’s scored 14 touchdowns on the year, and has been, for all intents and purposes, un-guardable. He has at least two catches in every game this season, has made double-digit catches in seven games and has scored at least one touchdown in nine of 11 games.

He shattered the record book this season, most notably with his 16-catch, 345-yard performance against the Arizona Wildcats where he scored twice in a loss. There hasn’t been anybody as dominant at the wide receiver position this season, and the Biletnikoff is Lee’s to lose.