Fresh off their record-setting victory in Corvallis over the Oregon State Beavers, news hit the wires today that the Huskies two best offensive players, running back Bishop Sankey and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, are finalists for the respective rewards recognizing the most outstanding performances at their positions in 2013.
Bishop Sankey was selected along with Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and Boston College's Andre Williams as finalists for the Doak Walker award. Sankey has had a breakout season in his first season as the unquestioned leader of the program following a strong but unheralded 2012 campaign. With still two games to go, Sankey has already amassed over 1,500 total yards with 17 TDs - good for third place in both categories in the nation. In fact, Sankey tied Husky great, Napolean Kaufman, on the all-time list for TDs. He is just 121 yards away from surpassing Corey Dillon's single-season rushing record of 1,695 yards while his 3,201 career yards are good for third on the UW all-time list. Despite all of these accomplishments, Sankey appears to be a long-shot to win the award. Williams has already surpassed 2,000 yards to go with 16 TDs this season while Carey, who has a few less yards, lower YPC and one fewer TDs than Sankey, has a signature win over Oregon to go along with a record streak of games over 100 yards dating back to week 4 of last season.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a bit of a surprise as a finalist for the John Mackey award along with fellow tight ends Nick O'Leary of Florida State and Eric Ebron of North Carolina. ASJ, who is already the most celebrated among a great line of all-time Husky tight ends, including NFL talents such as Cam Cleeland, Jerramy Stevens, Eric Bjornson, and Mark Breuner, got of to an inauspicious start last spring when a single-car accident and a resulting DUI earned ASJ a spring-practice suspension in addition to one-game ban to start the season. The lack of practice time for ASJ prevented him from acclimating and conditioning for the new Husky up-tempo offense and contributed to an early season lull that saw ASJ contribute little to the stat sheet. Still, ASJ has been widely credited for a much-improved blocking that has helped keep QB Keith Price standing upright while contributing to Bishop Sankey's outstanding season. ASJ has also continued to be money in the red zone. His six TD receptions are tied for second in the nation among tight ends and he is already the UW's leading all-time scorer among tight ends with 19 total TDs. Despite being the pre-season favorite, ASJ would appear to be a long-shot to win the award barring a strong Apple Cup. Ebron, with 50 receptions to ASJ's 31, has six TDs, himself, and would appear to be the favorite.
Regardless of outcomes, the presence of both a receiver and a running back as finalists on these awards lists speaks volumes about the accomplishment of the Husky offense and the development of the skill positions by Steve Sarkisians and his staff. Now, if we could only get some recognition for our our beef...