June 15, 2024

2023 CBS Sports college football awards: Jayden Daniels, Kalen DeBoer headline honorees

The 2023 season is the ultimate chapter of an period in college football, and it delivered all of the on- and off-field drama one might have anticipated from a sport that retains us speaking 12 months a yr regardless of solely having 12 regular-season video games in a marketing campaign. We will keep in mind the 2023 season as a real turning level for the game, as a result of after we return for 2024, nothing would be the similar. 

We will keep in mind the convention realignment chaos of July and August, watching a 100-year-old league collapse in a matter of days whereas the Big Ten and Big 12 noticed their future membership balloon to 18 colleges. The information of the Pac-12 (as we knew it) falling aside reverberated all through each nook of college athletics, setting the stage for a season that will be full of angst and nervousness. 

We will keep in mind Coach Prime and the wild experience that was Colorado’s first month beneath Deion Sanders as the main target of your complete sports activities world turned to the beginning of the college football season. We will keep in mind all of the coaches who used on-field interviews as an opportunity to shoot their very own wrestling promos, from Ryan Day’s name out of Lou Holtz to Dabo Swinney’s inventory recommendation and a lot extra. We will keep in mind Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan sign-stealing scandal, and the way it drew such an intense and diverse response throughout each followers and coaches. Depending on how issues go for the Wolverines within the College Football Playoff, we might proceed to do not forget that scandal as a particularly pivotal second within the 2023 season. 

Speaking of the CFP, it will take years of superior hypnosis and remedy to not keep in mind Florida State’s exclusion from the highest 4, marking the primary time the CFP Selection Committee has ever unnoticed an undefeated energy convention champion. The bitter style the information left some followers was usually delivered with the digestif of subsequent yr’s 12-team playoff format, as if “it won’t happen like this again” does something to melt the blow for Mike Norvell’s resurgent Seminoles program. 

So, after we collect subsequent offseason to preview 2024, it is going to all look completely different. Conferences can have memberships that span your complete nation, the playoff can have automated bids, byes and 12 groups competing for the nationwide championship. On Saturdays, it is going to nonetheless be the game that all of us love, however from 35,000 toes, it could be unrecognizable. And when your thoughts drifts to recall what issues regarded like within the earlier than instances of college football, you will keep in mind the 2023 season. 

One method that we crystalize each season is by honoring one of the best and brightest. When we keep in mind 2023, these names might be a number of the first that come to thoughts. Check out our Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Freshman of the Year under, and do not miss our 2023 CBS Sports All-America team, launched earlier this week. 

2023 CBS Sports college football awards 

Player of the Year: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

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Sometimes college football’s historical past may be an effective way to place what we’re watching into context, and Jayden Daniels’ 2023 season stands up as some of the excellent particular person efforts within the fashionable period. Daniels presently leads or is tied amongst all FBS quarterbacks in complete yards per recreation (412.2), passing touchdowns (40), complete touchdowns (50) and cross effectivity ranking (208.0). That passer ranking mark, by the best way, presently leads Grayson McCall (2021), Mac Jones (2020) and Joe Burrow (2019) as one of the best in FBS historical past, so relying what Daniels needs to do within the bowl recreation, it might go down as essentially the most environment friendly passing season of all time. 

Daniels’ 2023 season has him as solely the second participant in SEC historical past with 3,500+ yards passing and 1,000 yards speeding, becoming a member of Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. His 50 complete touchdowns in a season put him on a brief checklist of SEC quarterbacks that embody Joe Burrow, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Bryce Young. All of them, as you might need famous, gained that well-known stiff-arm trophy that Daniels is favored to seize Saturday night time. 

And whereas Daniels profitable CBS Sports Player of the Year is a spotlight completely on his efficiency this season, it is inconceivable to rejoice him with out noting the story of his profession. When the promise of his recruiting projections weren’t panning out at Arizona State, Daniels used the switch portal to discover a new dwelling at LSU. And it wasn’t a “just add water” recipe for achievement as he slowly improved all through the 2022 season earlier than making a bounce into the elite tier in 2023.

Daniels labored on his downfield passing and now stands as among the finest deep ball passers in college football along with his yards per try leaping from 7.5 in 2022 to 11.7 in 2023. The menace of Daniels working has at all times been part of his recreation, however paired with an improved deep ball, the LSU quarterback grew to become practically inconceivable to include. Daniels would not win this award if he would not use the additional time and alternatives in college football to strengthen each facet of his recreation, and in that sense, he is a contemporary success story within the switch portal period. 

Coach of the Year: Kalen DeBoer, Washington 

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Washington has at all times been a program able to reaching college football’s highest ranges when it has the proper coach in place, and that is actually the case two years into Kalen DeBoer’s tenure in Seattle. The Huskies are 24-2 since DeBoer took over, presently driving a 20-game profitable streak after going 13-0 and profitable the Pac-12 in 2023. DeBoer joins Chip Kelly as the one coach in Pac-12 historical past to go 9-0 in convention play, matching Kelly’s 2010 marketing campaign at Oregon when the Ducks completed as nationwide runner-up. And whereas Washington has gotten to the highest of college football earlier than, DeBoer’s sustained success on this quick run brings notoriety as the primary coach in class historical past to win 11+ video games in consecutive seasons.  

DeBoer has lengthy been considered as an elite offensive coach, and people expertise have been on show with the Huskies offense — led by quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and extensive receiver Rome Odunze — rating among the many finest within the nation. But there’s an intangible energy that DeBoer has helped foster this season that is been on show as Washington rounded out its 2023 marketing campaign. The Huskies gained every of their final 9 video games by 10 factors or fewer, a few of them high-scoring shootouts and a few of them as low-scoring defensive battles. According to the Pac-12, Washington is the one group since at the very least 1973 to win at the very least eight video games by 10 factors or much less, which may solely recommend that we’re speaking about some of the clutch groups within the fashionable period. 

That confidence in shut video games, lots of them performed with the immense stress of an undefeated report and College Football Playoff stakes, comes from the highest. DeBoer has plenty of numbers to help his energy and added worth as a coach, however how the Huskies continued to maintain their undefeated season alive week after week displays positively on the management of their coach. 

Freshman of the Year: Caleb Downs, DB, Alabama 

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The buzz on Caleb Downs began the second he arrived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, when insiders made it clear we weren’t going to be coping with your common five-star prospect. Every Nick Saban recruiting class is loaded with blue-chip gamers, however not each five-star is alike, and never lots of them have been capable of step proper in and have the impression that Downs had for the Alabama protection in 2023. 

Downs leads Alabama with 99 tackles on the season and in addition tallied two interceptions and a pressured fumble. Saban has credited Downs’ maturity all year long as he stepped proper into the beginning lineup from the start of the season. Thanks to his elite instincts, he has not checked out all of the a part of a rookie even on a number of the recreation’s greatest levels. He additionally assumed some punt return duties in latest weeks, working one punt again for a landing in opposition to Chattanooga. 

With Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold at cornerback, Alabama was an elite security away from having among the finest secondaries within the nation. Downs, a participant who could make a distinction in protection whereas additionally being unafraid to get into the motion across the line of scrimmage within the run recreation, has been that elite participant. The protection is a giant motive why Alabama was capable of win the SEC championship over Georgia and why the Crimson Tide, even after a troublesome dwelling loss in Week 2, might be competing for a nationwide championship within the College Football Playoff.