Year after year college football experts, reporters, and committees compile a list of the best college football players across the country at their respective positions. For the upcoming 2015 season, Eastern Michigan has four players named to multiple award watch lists.
Senior captain Pat O’Connor (Chicago, ILL), and senior linebacker Great Ibe (Philadelphia, PA) are candidates for the Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the best defensive lineman or linebacker in college football.
O’Connor led the Mid-American Conference a season ago with 7.5 sacks, while also compiling 64 tackles and 27 solo tackles, earning him a spot on the First Team All-Conference roster.
Ibe led the team with 133 tackles last season that put him at ninth in the nation in overall tackles, and was named Second-Team All-Conference.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best overall defensive player in college football. O’Connor along with 87 other defensive players throughout the country are in the running for the award which will be issued at the end of the season presented by the Football Writers Association of America.
Offensively, Eastern Michigan has senior running back Darius Jackson (Sparta, ILL) and redshirt senior offensive lineman Jake Hurcombe (Lincolnshire, ILL) on watch lists for awards as well.
Jackson was named a candidate for the Doak Walker Award, given to the best running back in college football. Last season Jackson averaged 4.8 yards per carry and complied 295 yards on the season sharing a majority of the carries.
Eastern Michigan carries a lot of depth at the running back position where it will be likely Jackson is asked to share carries in the 2015 season as well. As a junior, Jackson had three touchdowns, two of them being via the air, and one being on the ground.
Jake Hurcombe is a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, given to the best center in the country. Hurcombe, one of the very few retuning starters for the offensive line, will be counted on for the 2015 season to have a great year.
There are quite a few gaps to fill on the offensive line for EMU as Lincoln Hansen, Bobby McFadden, Cam Allison and Jordan Erbes have all graduated.