LEADOFF: College football stars converge on Atlanta this week


Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early look inside Atlanta sports. 

One month and one day before college football’s national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, two-dozen stars of the 2017 season from around the nation will share the spotlight at another downtown Atlanta event Thursday night. 

They’ll attend the 27th annual “College Football Awards” show, a two-hour made-for-TV event that will air live on ESPN from the College Football Hall of Fame. 

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith could cross paths on the awards stage, as they will do in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. 

Mayfield is a finalist for two of the nine individual awards that will be presented Thursday night: the Maxwell Award as college football’s player of the year and the Davey O’Brien Award as the best quarterback. Smith is a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award as defensive player of the year. 

Joining Mayfield as finalists for the Maxwell Award will be Penn State running back Saquon Barkley and Stanford running back Bryce Love. Mayfield’s fellow finalists for the O’Brien Award are Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. 

Joining Smith as finalists for the Bednarik Award will be N.C State defensive end Bradley Chubb and Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. 

The awards show will be held in Atlanta for the third consecutive year after a long run at Disney World. In addition to the two-hour show on ESPN (7-9 p.m. Thursday), a one-hour red-carpet pre-show will air on ESPNU beginning at 6 p.m. and a one-hour post-show “Championship Drive: CFB Playoff Preview” on ESPN at 9 p.m., both also originating from the College Football Hall of Fame. 

In addition to the aforementioned, awards to be presented include the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman), the Doak Walker Award (best running back), the  Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back) and others. 

The three finalists for each award  typically attend.

In conjunction with the event, the College Football Playoff will bring the head coaches of the four playoff teams -- Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Alabama’s Nick Saban -- to Atlanta on Thursday for a joint news conference. 

 

READ ON ...

The playoff field: Four teams are one win away from Atlanta.

Many activities are planned around Atlanta’s national championship game.

Officials weigh how to bring down the rest of the Georgia Dome.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Dabo Swinney foreshadows best is yet to come for Clemson
Dabo Swinney foreshadows best is yet to come for Clemson

When you’re the Clemson Tigers and you’ve made three straight College Football Playoff appearances, including two national title trips and one national championship, it’s hard to imagine things can get much better. However, Dabo Swinney certainly thinks that it can and with good reason. The Clemson program...
Hawks to continue rebuild without Mike Budenholzer
Hawks to continue rebuild without Mike Budenholzer

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer spent two weeks looking for another job. Eventually, general manager Travis Schlenk said he and Budenholzer decided that he won’t keep his current position.  Schlenk said it was a mutual decision to end Budenholzer’s five-year tenure as Hawks coach, a move that came on Wednesday night. The move came after...
The hype for Ronald Acuna Jr. was immense. We’re seeing why
The hype for Ronald Acuna Jr. was immense. We’re seeing why
Ronald Acuna Jr. made an out today. One of his hits – he had three – was an infield single. Another was a bloop double. The other was a home run, and even that was a cheapie. It only landed in the upper deck of Great American Ball Park. Have to say I expected more.  Yes. I’m kidding.  What can I say? What can anybody say?...
Dachon Burke commits to Nebraska basketball: Huskers reportedly land Robert Morris transfer
Dachon Burke commits to Nebraska basketball: Huskers reportedly land Robert Morris transfer

Dachon Burke, a transfer from Robert Morris, is joining Nebraska’s basketball program, according to Robin Washut of HuskerOnline. Burke will have to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA rules but will have two years of eligibility with Tim Miles’ program. Burke is capable of scoring in bunches. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 17.6 points...
Photos: All in fun, Braves shun Acuna after home run
Photos: All in fun, Braves shun Acuna after home run

Ronald Acuna has played two games in the majors and he’s already impressing everyone. Well, except his teammates who did not offer him high-fives in the dugout after his towering shot against the Reds Thursday. It was all in fun of course, sort of a baseball tradition that playfully sends a message that a new guy’s accomplishment is...
More Stories