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Oregon's Marcus Mariota wins Maxwell, Camp, O'Brien awards

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- What promises to be a big weekend for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota got off to a good start Thursday, when he won three major awards.


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Mariota, a prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, was busy during Thursday night's College Football Awards Show: He won the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top quarterback, and the Maxwell Award, which goes to the top player. Earlier in the day, he won the Walter Camp Award as the nation's top player.

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Friday, he will be in Baltimore for the ceremony for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which he won Monday. Then it's on to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

Mariota described the whole award season experience as "surreal" in a media session Wednesday. Ultra-reserved as usual, Mariota also said he didn't like talking about himself and didn't like saying anything negative about anything.

Well, it's hard to say anything negative about Mariota this season. He has thrown for 3,773 yards and 38 touchdowns, and has added 669 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. He has accounted for at least four TDs in 10 games this season and at least five four times. Perhaps the most staggering number, though: He has accounted for 53 touchdowns this season -- 38 passing, 14 rushing, one receiving. That is more than 94 teams have scored.

As for not liking talking about himself? Once he gets the Heisman on Saturday, that's going to have to change.


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Here is a look at each award handed out at Thursday night's show.

Bednarik Award (top defender)

The finalists: DE Vic Beasley, Clemson; DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State; LB Scooby Wright, Arizona
Winner: Wright. The Bednarik and Nagurski awards both go to the top defender, and Wright -- whose given name is Phillip III -- already had won the Nagurski ( and the Lombardi, which goes to the top lineman or linebacker). He is in the top five nationally in sacks, tackles, tackles for loss and forced fumbles.

Biletnikoff Award (top receiver)

The finalists: Amari Cooper, Alabama; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Kevin White, West Virginia
Winner: Cooper. He is a Heisman finalist, and he leads the nation in receptions (115, an SEC single-season record) and receiving yards (1,656). Cooper also has 14 TD catches. He had 104 receptions for 1,736 yards and 15 TDs in his first two seasons combined.

Groza Award (top kicker)

The finalists: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State; Brad Craddock, Maryland; Josh Lambert, West Virginia
Projected winner: Craddock. He won in perhaps the biggest surprise of the awards season. Aguayo, who won the award last year, was considered the favorite. Craddock made the fewest field goals of the finalists, going 18-of-19; he did hit a 57-yarder and was 2-of-3 from at least 50 yards, with his miss coming from 54 yards. He is a native Australian who learned how to kick playing Australian rules football.

Ray Guy Award (top punter)

The finalists: Tom Hackett, Utah; Austin Rehkow, Idaho; J.K. Scott, Alabama
Winner: Hackett. He was second in the nation in average (47.0, on 77 attempts), and Utah was third in net punting (42.8). As with Craddock, Hackett is a native Australian; his bio on Utah's website says his "family does not understand American football." He originally arrived at Utah as a walk-on.


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Maxwell Award (top player)

The finalists: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin; QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon; QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Projected winner: Mariota. Interestingly, even though both awards go to the nation's top player, just two of the past 10 Maxwell winners also won the Heisman: Cam Newton in 2010 and Tim Tebow in 2007. A.J. McCarron won the Maxwell last season.

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Davey O'Brien Award (top quarterback)

The finalists: Trevone Boykin, TCU; Marcus Mariota, Oregon; Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Winner: Mariota. Eight of the past 10 Heisman winners have been quarterbacks, and seven of those guys won the O'Brien. The only outlier: Oklahoma's Jason White won the 2004 O'Brien, and USC's Matt Leinart won the 2004 Heisman.

Outland Trophy (top interior lineman)

The finalists: DT Malcom Brown, Texas; C Reese Dismukes, Auburn; OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa
Projected winner: Scherff. Scherff (6-foot4-, 320 pounds) was one of the most hyped linemen in the nation entering the season, and he lived up to it. Not bad for a guy who started at quarterback as a high school sophomore in Denison, Iowa, and didn't become a lineman until his senior season in high school. And lest you think playing quarterback was some kind of lark (Scherff admitted Wednesday that his team ran a lot of quarterback sneaks on 2nd-and-5), Scherff is a good athlete: He also played tennis as a sophomore -- at No. 4 singles -- on a team that had, he said proudly, "about 30" students try out. Scherff became the fourth Hawkeye to win the Outland (Cal Jones in 1955, Alex Karras in '57 and Robert Gallery in 2003).

Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back)

The finalists: FS Landon Collins, Alabama; CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon; FS Gerod Holliman, Louisville
Projected winner: Holliman. Holliman, a third-year sophomore, has tied a FBS single-season record with 14 interceptions. He has a shot at setting the record in the Belk Bowl against Georgia. Interestingly, Louisville's first-year defensive coordinator is Todd Grantham, who had held the same position at Georgia. Holliman said Wednesday that he liked playing in Grantham's defense because it allows him to freelance. He is the first ACC player to win the award. Louisville's secondary coach is Terrell Buckley, who won the Thorpe playing cornerback for Florida State in 1991.

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Doak Walker Award (top running back)

The finalists: Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska; Tevin Coleman, Indiana; Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Projected winner: Gordon. He leads the nation in rushing and rushing TDs, and his 2,336 rushing yards this season already ranks fourth in FBS single-season history. He should move up on that list -- he is just six yards away from tying USC's Marcus Allen for third place. Gordon is the third winner from Wisconsin, joining Ron Dayne in 1999 and Montee Ball in 2012. He spent part of this past summer as an intern for Merrill Lynch; that's apropos, because Gordon -- who announced Wednesday that he was turning pro -- soon is going to need some investment advice.

Other awards

Awards that were handed out before Thursday's ceremony:

» Butkus (top linebacker): Eric Kendricks, UCLA

» Camp (top player): Marcus Mariota, Oregon

» Hendricks (top defensive end): Nate Orchard, Utah

» Nagurski (top defensive player): Scooby Wright, Arizona

» Lombardi (top lineman/linebacker): Scooby Wright, Arizona

» Mackey (top tight end): Nick O'Leary, Florida State

» Rimington (top center): Reese Dismukes, Auburn

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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