Biletnikoff Award Preview
By: Andrew Bowen
Simply put, Austin Carr has had an incredible 2016 season. And because of it the Wildcats’ senior receiver is one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given each year to the nation’s best wide receiver. Carr, along with Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma and Isaiah “Zay” Jones of Eastern Carolina, were announced as the three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award.
But the question for Wildcat fans is, does he have a chance to win the award?
Carr’s senior season has been nothing short of phenomenal. His 12 touchdown receptions lead the Big Ten and set a Northwestern school record. He’s amassed 1,196 yards on 84 receptions this year. He leads the Big Ten in both of these categories commandingly – the next best receivers have 951 yards and 65 receptions, respectively.
In addition to his statistics, Carr has been arguably the Wildcats’ most valuable offensive asset. Northwestern’s senior wideout has only been held without a touchdown in 4 games this season. He leads the Big Ten, arguably one of the best, if not the best, football conference in the nation this season, in every valuable receiving statistic.
But the other two nominees have had terrific seasons too.
Zay Jones of Eastern Carolina has had an astounding 2016 campaign. Seriously, his season has been inconceivably good. Jones has snagged 158 receptions for a jaw dropping 1,746 yards; leading the country in both statistics. The next closest receiver has 300 fewer receiving yards than Jones. Despite his out-of-this-world numbers, Jones’s statistics are a bit inflated. He has over 100 more receptions than the next receiver on his team. (No, that number isn’t a typo).
In addition, Eastern Carolina’s quarterbacks have also thrown the ball about 100 more times total than Clayton Thorson this year. Eastern Carolina has a pass-happy offense that primarily targets one receiver, Jones. In contrast, Northwestern fields a more balanced offense with the running game taking up a larger percentage of the total offense.
Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma, the other finalist, has also posted an impressive 2016 campaign. He leads the Big 12 conference with 1,354 receiving yards from 70 receptions. Westbrook also has the most touchdowns of the three finalists with 15.
Despite having better overall statistics than Northwestern’s Austin Carr, Westbrook is also catching passes from a Heisman-candidate quarterback in Baker Mayfield, who’s compiled more passing yards and touchdowns than Clayton Thorson this year.
And unfortunately for Wildcat fans, Austin Carr is a long-shot to win the Biletnikoff award this season. Despite being arguably the most valuable player in the Big Ten, his stats simply don’t compare to the astronomical numbers put up by Jones or Westbrook.
Still, Wildcat fans can cross their fingers and wait with bated breath to see if their standout senior receiver can take home some hardware. And even if he doesn’t, at the very least, Carr has surely put up a season for the ages, there’s no denying that.