Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images
WNUR voted Justin Jackson their 2014 Northwestern Offensive Player of the Year. Can he do it again? Photo Credit: David Banks/Getty Images

College Football season is right around the corner and the WNUR Sports staff made their preseason picks for Northwestern’s offensive, defensive, and breakout players of the year, as well as Big Ten player and coach of the year. Check out the results below, along with comments from voters defending their selections.

Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Jackson, RB

Voting totals: Jackson 14, Clayton Thorson 1.

What they’re saying:

Justin Jackson is by far the best, most sure-thing skill player on this team. Northwestern will try to focus on the run game as they work in a young QB in Thorson, and Jackson will lead that charge.” – Zach Pereles

Justin Jackson was NU’s heart and soul on offense last year, and that shouldn’t change in his sophomore campaign.” – Josh Burton

Justin Jackson will slow down a bit this year but will be able to open up opportunities for Clayton Thorson to thrive.” – Sam Rudnick

Defensive Player of the Year: Nick VanHoose, CB.

Can VanHoose lead Northwestern's defense in 2015? Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
Can VanHoose lead Northwestern’s defense in 2015? Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Voting totals: VanHoose 6, Dean Lowry 4, Godwin Igwebuike 2, Anthony Walker 2.

What they’re saying:

Godwin Igwebuike did well in small sample sizes (see Stave, Joel) and his playing time should vastly increase this year.” – Max Gelman

“Anthony Walker impressed in his first season, and I think that his sophomore effort will be even better.” – Nick Scoliard

Dean Lowry just beats out Anthony Walker for defensive MVP because he’s so dynamic – strong in pass rush and run stop – and he’s going to be the only guy on the line playing nearly every down.” – Jason Dorow

Nick VanHoose has been solid since his freshman year, this year won’t be any different.” – Austin Miller

Breakout Player of the Year: Clayton Thorson, QB

Voting totals: Thorson 7, Garrett Dickerson 4, Auston Anderson 2, Hunter Niswander 1, Zack Oliver 1.

What they’re saying:

“Northwestern’s offense will not be very good. Hunter Niswander is fairly highly rated and I think he’ll live up to the hype.” – Austin Miller

“It has to be Clayton Thorson. He’s the starting QB and if Northwestern does anything this season, he’ll be a big reason why.” – Ari Ross

“Thorson is the safe pick here, but the ‘Cats don’t have many dynamic skill players, so I think Auston Anderson will get opportunities.” – Michael Stern

“I’m buying the Garrett Dickerson hype train. He’s slimmed down and will be on the field a lot.” – Ben Goren

“I don’t think Thorson finishes the season as QB and Zack Oliver overtakes him, surprising everyone.” – Max Gelman

Big Ten Player of the Year: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

Voting totals: Elliott 7, Cardale Jones 3, J.T. Barrett 3, Christian Hackenberg 1, Connor Cook 1.

What they’re saying:

Ezekiel Elliott was unstoppable in his sophomore season and there’s no reason for that to change.” – Josh Burton

J.T. Barrett wins the quarterback job at Ohio State and wins conference player of the year again. People forget how good he was last year.” – Michael Stern

“Ohio State’s too easy of a pick, so I went with Connor Cook.” – Nick Scoliard

“If Cardale Jones does get the nod at QB for OSU, I think he puts up huge numbers this season.” – Jason Dorow

Big Ten Coach of the Year: Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Will Meyer be named Big Ten Coach of the Year after missing out last season? Photo Credit: US Presswire
Will Meyer be named Big Ten Coach of the Year after missing out last season? Photo Credit: US Presswire

Voting totals: Meyer 7, Jim Harbaugh 4, Paul Chryst 2, Mark Dantonio 1, Pat Fitzgerald 1.

What they’re saying:

“In Pat Fitzgerald we trust, pure NU bias and optimism with this selection.” – Lorenzo Gudino

Paul Chryst leads Wisconsin back to the conference title game in his first year without Melvin Gordon, which is no easy task.” – Michael Stern

“The best coach (Urban Meyer) coaches the best team in the conference. Makes sense that he wins Coach of the Year, right?” – Zach Pereles

“Let’s rectify the fact that the coach (Urban Meyer) who won the national championship didn’t win his conference’s coach of the year last season” – Ben Goren

Jim Harbaugh will lead Michigan football back towards their treasured past and make a lot of noise in college football this year.” – Sam Rudnick

Urban Meyer will win Big Ten Coach of the Year, because when you go 12-0, you should win the award.” – Ari Ross