2012 First Look: Outland, Bednarik, Lombardi
Alabama OT/C Barrett Jones
Alabama OT/C Barrett Jones
Posted Mar 8, 2012

The way-too-early first look at the 2012 awards: Outland, Bednarik, Lombardi

2012 Spring Football    

First Look: The Awards

2012 Spring Preview: First Look At The Awards
- Heisman, Maxwell, & Davey O'Brien
- Outland, Bednarik, & Lombardi | Doak Walker & Biletnikoff
- Rimington & Mackey | Butkus & Thorpe | Lou Groza & Ray Guy

By Richard Cirminiello 
Follow Us ... #ColFootballNews  

It's way too early to start bandying about the names of the most prominent candidates for 2012's individual awards in college football, right? Whatever. It's March and wild speculation is one of the joys of the offseason. It's a chance to debate, mull over and contemplate next year's stars with complete impunity.

Will lists of contenders in January be spot on in December? Of course not. Will they make you think and pine for September? Probably. And that's really the objective here, whetting appetites, generating some interesting discussions and taking a sneak peek into what might be lurking ahead for the upcoming season.

Best Interior Lineman (Outland Trophy)

10. DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Unusually agile for a 6-3, 335-pounder, Hankins is staring down the barrel of a breakout year. He harbors the size-quickness blend typically designated for SEC tackles.

9. OG Larry Warford, Kentucky
The Wildcats' hidden gem in Lexington has been named All-SEC at the end of each of the last two years. Both big and powerful, he's also fundamentally sound.

8. OT Chris Faulk, LSU
Faulk turned the corner as a sophomore, earning Second Team All-SEC honors, and using an enormous frame to literally engulf opposing pass rushers.

7. OG Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
No list of premier inside linemen would be complete without the inclusion of a Badger. After redshirting in 2010, he bullied his way to a stellar All-Big Ten sophomore year.

6. DT Joe Vellano, Maryland
Ultra-productive from the interior of the defense, Vellano plays with a throwback's mentality, always operating at maximum intensity.

5. OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
At the halfway point of his Aggies career, Joeckel is already one of the game's premier tackles, a powerful blocker who'll get a bigger stage in the SEC.

4. NT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Anonymous to many, Lotulelei caught the attention of Pac-12 offensive linemen who voted him the league' top D-lineman. He's an ideal run stuffer in the middle of a 3-4 defense.

3. OG Alvin Bailey, Arkansas
Bailey just keeps getting better and better as a blocker, showcasing the quick feet and burst out of the blocks of a much smaller player.

2. DT Kawann Short, Purdue
Short is back at Purdue for his senior year, determined to raise the level of his game, improve his draft grade and become the country's most dominant interior lineman.

1. OT/C Barrett Jones, Alabama
By returning to Tuscaloosa in a surprising decision, the versatile Jones will look to join Nebraska's Dave Rimington as the only two-time winner of the Outland Trophy. This year, though, he could do something truly special and win it from a second position. As long as Cyrus Kouandjio is healthy, which he's not this spring, Jones will work at center. 

Top Defensive Player (Bednarik Award, Nagurski Award)

16. FS Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
The All-American is the prototype at free safety, tough enough to defend the run, yet with the hips and athleticism of a cover corner.

15. DE John Simon, Ohio State
While his numbers may be modest relative to other contenders, his film tells the complete story. Few players in the game are more tenacious or contagious than Simon.

14. LB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
Brown will be looking to build on a terrific debut in Manhattan. The former Miami transfer quickly emerged as one of the Big 12's most assertive defenders.

13. CB David Amerson, NC State
Amerson's ACC-record 13 picks in 2011 were no fluke. He's big and instinctive, with the ball skills of a top-flight wide receiver.

12. LB Gerald Hodges, Penn State
No Lion blossomed faster than Hodges last fall. In just his second year at linebacker—and first as a starter—he was named First Team All-Big Ten by league coaches.

11. LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
His shoulders healthy for the first time in two years, Borland flashed his potential by making 19 stops for loss, and earning All-Big Ten First Team honors.

10. LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
Skov is one of the nastiest linebackers around, but a knee injury felled him last September. Two surgeries later, he's hoping to pick up where he left off in the 2011 Orange Bowl.

9. DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
The elite 2010 recruit began playing like it as a sophomore, earning Second Team All-Big 12 honors. A 2.5-sack effort in the Holiday Bowl could be a precursor for this season.

8. DE Corey Lemonier, Auburn
Lemonier has bloomed into one of America's premier speed rushers, collecting 9.5 sacks. New coordinator Brian VanGorder will make sure he brings it on every down.

7. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
His rookie apprenticeship now over, Clowney is about to become a rather ghastly edge rusher. His confluence of size and speed is usually reserved for video games.

6. DT Kawann Short, Purdue
After making 17 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, Short could be cashing NFL paychecks. Instead, he'll be toying with Big Ten blockers for his senior year.

5. DE William Gholston, Michigan State
The stage is set for Gholston to become a household name this year. The next-level prototype at end abused the Georgia O-line for five tackles for loss in the Outback Bowl.

4. DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
There may not be a better—or faster—end in the game in 2012. A proven mismatch, Montgomery is like having a speedy outside linebacker faced up against lumbering tackles.

3. LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Te'o bucked conventional wisdom by returning to South Bend for one final year. Few hit as hard or tackle as consistently in the open field as No. 5.

2. LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jones exploded on to the scene after transferring from USC, debuting with 13.5 sacks. A ferocious hitter, with a nose for the backfield, he'll be even better in Year 2 as a Dawg.

1. CB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
The reigning Bednarik Award winner is the quintessential ball-hawk, changing the tempo of a game with his big-play ability. The spotlight may grow even brighter now that secondary mate Morris Claiborne is NFL bound.

Top Lineman (Lombardi Award)

10. DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Jeffcoat is one of the rising stars on a defense loaded with young talent. Last year's team-high 17 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks are just the beginning.

9. OG Alvin Bailey, Arkansas
A starter in every game of his Razorbacks career, Bailey plays with the power of a road-grader to go along with the agility of a much smaller player.

8. DE Corey Lemonier, Auburn
Lemonier has a knack for playing the game a little faster than those around him, pressuring the pocket relentlessly. Watch him skyrocket once he adds some more muscle to a lean frame.

7. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
For Clowney, his upside as a pass rusher is almost boundless. From a physical standpoint, he's as ready-made for stardom as any D-lineman in the past decade.

6. DT Kawann Short, Purdue
The only thing better than a run-stuffing tackle is one who can also get consistent penetration. Short is that guy for the Boilermakers.

5. DE William Gholston, Michigan State
Gholston is the Spartans' version of Clowney, an imposing 6-7, 280-pounder, with tremendous athletic ability. He can help his cause by eliminating the chippy plays that earn personal fouls.

4. OT/C Barrett Jones, Alabama
Not since Orlando Pace in 1996 has an offensive lineman hoisted the block of granite, so Jones will be battling history as well as opposing SEC lineman. While he was a star at tackle last season, if all goes according to plan, he'll anchor the line from the middle.

3. DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
Along with Barkevious Mingo, who will also contend here, Montgomery will be part of a downright scary bookend in Baton Rouge. With just one full season in the vault, he's already an elite pass rusher.

2. LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Te'o doesn't just defend the run—he imposes his will on other teams. A guided missile on the field, he'll deploy the other guy's airbags.

1. LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jones is like catnip for voters of individual awards. Not only is he productive, but he makes the kinds of plays that bring fans up out of their seats.

2012 Spring Preview: First Look At The Awards
- Heisman, Maxwell, & Davey O'Brien
- Outland, Bednarik, & Lombardi | Doak Walker & Biletnikoff
- Rimington & Mackey | Butkus & Thorpe | Lou Groza & Ray Guy