It is Saturday once again, and that means it’s time to take a look at yet another preseason watch list. This time we head to the end of the offensive line to the Tight End, where the John Mackey Award has been given out each year since 2000 to the top TE in the country that “best exemplifies the play, sportsmanship, academics, and community values of NFL Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey.”
Ohio State has never had a Mackey Award winner, yet that could all change this year under Coach Meyer’s new scheme. Jake Stoneburner is the Buckeye representative on the watch list, and has to be considered one of the top 5 to take home the award. Since Meyer was hired, there has been much talk about how Stoney will be used in similar fashion to Aaron Hernandez at Florida. If that is the case, then Jake has to be excited, considering Hernandez won the award in 2009.
The John Mackey Award is presented by the Nassau County Sports Commission, and honors the late John Mackey, a legendary Tight End in college and the NFL. A member of the NFL’s 1960’s All-Decade Team, Mackey is still considered by most to be the league’s most prolific TE in history.
Let’s get into the remaining frontrunners:
Most see this race as a two horser between Stoney and Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame. I concur on the former, not on the latter. For my money, the award is Stoneburner’s to lose, providing he makes it back to the team with little to no time lost before the opener against Miami. Jake should get the receptions that he’ll need to impress the voters, and barring injury, should walk away with the hardware on December 6th.
Yet I would be remiss if I did not mention the other contenders. Heaven forefend anyone accuse The Empire of blatant homerism. A dark horse could even come right out of the B1G. The similarities that we’ll likely see between Ohio State’s offense and that of the Huskers could lend itself to Kyler Reed having his name pop up in the discussion. The Homecoming matchup on October 6th will give the voters a keen look at both B1G guys, just 9 days before the mid-season watch list comes out.
And when that list comes out, expect to see Michael Williams of Alabama on it. He’ll have plenty of SEC company as well, especially the likes of Chris Gragg of Arkansas, who is an early favorite as well. Others from the Southeastern Conference that could make some noise are Chase Clement of LSU and Phil Lutzenkirchen of Auburn. (I really just wanted to type “Lutzenkirchen,” but really he has a good shot at it)
The odds are stacked against Gragg, however, as no school has ever had two winners. Given that D.J. Williams won the award just two years ago suggest that Gragg will have an uphill climb against superstition if he wants to have something for his mantle.
The list will be whittled down a few times in the months of October and November, with a top three list coming out on November 19th. Should Jake still remain on the list, and there is no reason to believe that he won’t, a good showing against TTUN would likely seal the deal for him.
- Jake Stoneburner, OSU
- Phil Lutzenkirchen, AUB
- Tyler Eifert, ND
- Michael Williams, BAMA
- Chris Gragg, ARK