McCaffrey, Hackett, Hooper among national football awards finalists


A handful of some of the Pac-12's finest football players have been named finalists for some of the the nation's most prestigious postseason awards.

A trio of players from Stanford, UCLA's outstanding placekicker and Utah's defending Ray Guy Award winner are all finalists for a variety of honors.

Maxwell Award (Collegiate Player of the Year)

Stanford's Christian McCaffrey is one of three finalists for the Maxwell Award, an honor taken home last season by Oregon's Marcus Mariota. The sophomore running back is having an unreal season, averaging 255.2 all-purpose yards per game and going above 300 four times in 2015. His excellence has helped the Cardinal to a Pac-12 North title and a spot in the Dec. 5 Pac-12 Football Championship Game.

Doak Walker Award (Best running back)

Unsurprisingly, McCaffrey's up for this too. His 1,546 rushing yards rank him 2nd in America.

John Mackey Award (Best tight end)

WIth 379 receiving yards and five touchdowns, Stanford's Austin Hooper is a finalist for the award given annually to the nation's top tight end. He's become one of Kevin Hogan's most reliable targets and is averaging 14.6 yards per catch so far this season for the 8-2 Cardinal.

Lou Groza Award (Best kicker)

Nailing a career-high and UCLA record-setting 60-yard field goal earlier this season is just one of the many reasons that Ka'imi Fairbairn is a finalist for the Groza. The Bruins' senior became the school's all-time leading scorer this year, a season in which he's gone 20/22 on field goals and tallied 101 points for the Bruins, who will play Saturday for a berth in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game.

Outland Trophy (Best interior lineman)

Someone has to open holes for McCaffrey and give Kevin Hogan time to make accurate throws. That guy all season has been Stanford senior Joshua Garnett, who's a finalist for the Outland. Garnett hasn't missed a start over his team's last 26 games, and has anchored a line that has allowed the offense to rush for more than 100 yards in 45 of their last 48 games.

Ray Guy Award (Best punter)

He kicked bacon all the way to a Guy Award last year and he's a finalist again, because #puntersarepeopletoo. Utah's Tom Hackett is looking to take home back-to-back honors as the nation's best punter. He's averaging 47.4 yards per punt, good for 4th in the nation and the top spot in the Pac-12. He's also a master at field position, pinning opponents inside the 10 yard line 11 times this season. He's also got two of the six longest punts in America this season, booting both a 76 yarder and a 74 yarder in 2015.

Each of these awards will be handed out on Thursday, December 10 in a ceremony at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The event will be televised on ESPN.

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