March 15, 2007

The 2007 Contenders: Davey O'Brien Award

Since 1981 when the Davey O'Brien Award was established to honor the country's premier collegiate quarterback, 11 of its recipients also won the Heisman Trophy in the same year.

That's not much of a surprise because quarterback is such a high-profile position. There again could be a link between the two distinguished honors in 2007. There are several high-profile quarterbacks at schools from Boston to Honolulu.

There is one who set numerous NCAA passing records last season. There's one who many feel will lead his team to next season's national champion. There is one who could rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 2,000. There are two who amassed impressive statistics in 2006 despite being hampered by injuries.

And those are just's top five contenders for the O'Brien Award.

One of the marks of a great quarterback is coming from behind to win, so we're not counting anybody out at this point. top Davey O'Brien Award contenders
1. John David Booty, Southern California, Sr. : The USC quarterbacks that immediately preceded Booty - Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart - won the Heisman Trophy. Neither won the O'Brien Award, so the Heisman-O'Brien connection might go out the window here. Still, if Booty can come close to duplicating his 2006 output - 3,347 yards and 29 touchdowns with only nine interceptions - he'll draw some acclaim as the nation's top quarterback. Remember, he doesn't play in a wide-open passing offense. The loss of receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith could hurt. But former five-star prospects Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazelton are ready for their turns to shine.
2. Colt Brennan, Hawaii, Sr. : Players from the South Pacific rarely are recognized for national awards. OK, they're never recognized. But there is a first time for everything. Based on his 2006 numbers, Brennan certainly could set precedent. Last season he led the nation in passing yardage and passing efficiency after throwing for 5,549 yards, 58 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. Brennan threw for at least 300 yards in 12 of 13 games. In the one in which he came up short he had 296 passing yards. Brennan's production didn't come only against inferior WAC defenses. He also threw for 350 yards against Alabama, 434 against Purdue, 401 against Oregon State and 559 against Arizona State.
3. Brian Brohm, Louisville, Sr. : The sturdy, strong-armed Brohm could be a strong candidate for several awards if he can just avoid injury. Last season, strained ligaments in his right (throwing) thumb forced him out of 2 games. Despite the injury, Brohm threw for more than 3,000 yards and 16 touchdowns with just five interceptions. After returning from injury last season, Brohm completed more than 70 percent of his attempts in five games to lead the Cardinals to a 12-1 finish. He'll have receivers Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia back, but must adapt to new coach Steve Kragthorpe (who replaced Bobby Petrino). Kragthorpe likes to throw, so that doesn't figure to be a major issue.
4. Pat White, West Virginia, Jr. : Quarterbacks are typically judged by their passing prowess, but there's no doubting White is one of the country's most explosive players. Even though he missed a game with a sore ankle lat season, White passed for 1,655 yards and rushed for 1,219 yards. The Mountaineers are expected to be a major factor in the national championship race - which will only raise White's profile.
5. Chad Henne, Michigan, Sr. : Henne has passed for more than 2,500 yards in each of his previous three seasons, and there are several reasons to believe his senior year could be a memorable one. He'll be directing an offense that figures to be one of the nation's best. He benefits from having an excellent receiving tandem with Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington. Running back Mike Hart will also keep opposing defenses honest.
Others to consider
Erik Ainge, Tennessee, Sr., 233 of 348 for 2,989 yards, 19 TDs, nine INTs
Chase Daniel, Missouri, Jr., 287 of 452 for 3,527 yards, 28 TDs, 10 INTs
Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, Jr., 412 of 617 for 4,555 yards, 38 TDs, 11 INTs
Matt Ryan, Boston College, Sr., 263 of 427 for 2,942 yards, 15 TDs, 10 INTs
Andre' Woodson, Kentucky, Sr., 264 of 419 for 3,515 yards, 31 TDs, seven INTs

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