Joe Burrow, A.J. Brown, and the SEC All-Alumni Awards

Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Welcome to the 11th Annual NFL Alumni Awards! Once again I use the NFL's no-longer-pretending-to-be-amateurs collegiate pipeline to gauge major conference program strength, assess who is up and who is down at the ever-volatile pro level, and start arguments, because one thing lacking in today's sports media environment is contrived conflict!

We begin with the conference that has won the national title 13 times in the last 17 years, including 2022, the almighty Southeastern Conference. The Georgia Bulldogs are the first national champions to repeat since the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide, another SEC program. It just so happens that 2012 was also the first year I began handing out the Alumni Awards, so the symmetry is fitting.

(You can follow the links to see the 2012-to-2016 winners, as for tidiness reasons we are only listing the last five below. Here is last year's SEC article.)

Georgia Bulldogs (42 alumni in the pros, per ESPN)

2017: Todd Gurley, RB, LAR
2018: Todd Gurley, RB, LAR
2019: Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
2020: Roquan Smith, LB, CHI
2021: Matthew Stafford, QB, LAR
2022: Roquan Smith, LB, BAL/CHI

The Bulldogs have always assembled rafts of talent in Athens, but they have gone to new heights under Kirby Smart and his insane recruiting budget. Any school that can see a record 15 players drafted (including five first-rounders) and still effortlessly repeat as champs has waves and waves of ballers on campus. There was, naturally, plenty of competition for the Between The Hedges Trophy, including Nick Chubb, fellow running back D'Andre Swift of Detroit, Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas, and rookies Travon Walker of Jacksonville (ER), George Pickens of Pittsburgh (WR), and Jamaree Salyer of the Chargers (OT). But Smith towered above the other Bulldogs, even after getting traded at midseason from the Bears to the Ravens.

Alabama Crimson Tide (62)

2017: Mark Ingram, RB, NO
2018: Julio Jones, WR, ATL
2019: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
2020: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
2021: Trevon Diggs, CB, DAL
2022: Quinnen Williams, DT, NYJ

Alabama may not have won the title last season, but it remains the champ of sending players to NFL rosters. There was plenty of quality among the immense quantity, including Trevon Diggs. Tua Tagovailoa might have won had he stayed healthy, and his main man in Miami, Jaylen Waddle, was close too. Fellow wideouts Amari Cooper and Devonta Smith had excellent seasons in Cleveland and Philly, respectively. Josh Jacobs was even better than the perennial contender Derrick Henry, but neither could corral the trophy. Big uglies Jonah Williams of Cincinnati and Landon Dickerson of Philadelphia had arguments, as did players at all three levels of defense—Commanders linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, linebacker C.J. Mosley of the Jets, and Denver corner Patrick Surtain II. But Big Q stood high above the Tide, with a dominant season in the trenches for the Jets.

Arkansas Razorbacks (21)

2017: Alex Collins, RB, BAL
2018: Trey Flowers, DE, NE
2019: Dre Greenlaw, LB, SF
2020: Frank Ragnow, C, DET
2021: Hunter Henry, TE, NE
2022: Frank Ragnow, C, DET

Back from injury to claim his second Woooo Pig award, Ragnow eased past Greenlaw for the Trophy.

Auburn Tigers (25)

2017: Cam Newton, QB, CAR
2018: Dee Ford, LB, KC
2019: Braden Smith, G, IND
2020: Cam Newton, QB, NE
2021: C.J. Uzomah, TE, CIN
2022: Derrick Brown, DT, CAR

Big D powered his way past Jets edge rusher Carl Lawson and a host of corners (Bucs teammates Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis, Roger McCreary of the Titans, Jonathan Jones of the Patriots) for his first War Eagle.

Florida Gators (38)

2017: Carlos Dunlap, DE, CIN
2018: Mike Pouncey, C, LAC
2019: Joe Haden, CB, PIT
2020: D.J. Humphries, T, ARI
2021: Kyle Pitts, "TE," ATL
2022: Trent Brown, T, NE

Gators are as plentiful on pro rosters as they are in the Okefenokee Swamp, but few are apex predators. Pitts still can't find the end zone and was hurt, CJ (Henderson) and C.J. (Gardner-Johnson) struggled with boo-boos as well, and even the great Evan McPherson's Hall of Fame candidacy hit a speed bump. Brown was hardly among the league's best left tackles but he did enough to snag the big prize in Gainesville.

Kentucky Wildcats (22)

2017: Larry Warford, G, NO
2018: Larry Warford, G, NO
2019: Za'Darius Smith, LB, GB
2020: Za'Darius Smith, LB, GB
2021: Josh Allen, LB, JAX
2022: Josh Allen, LB, JAX

Back-to-back Big Blues for the "other" Josh Allen. Sadly for the lesser known Bills quarterback, we don't give a Wyoming award.

LSU Tigers (50)

2017: Deion Jones, LB, ATL
2018: Jamal Adams, S, NYJ
2019: Tre'Davious White, CB, BUF
2020: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
2021: Joe Burrow, QB, CIN
2022: Joe Burrow, QB, CIN

Jefferson was incredible once again, and fellow wideout and former Baton Rouge teammate Ja'Marr Chase was too despite missing some time with a bum hip. But so long as Joey B. is Joe Brrrr, the Purple Tiger Trophy will have a home at the Burreaux Residence.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (28)

2017: Fletcher Cox, DT, PHI
2018: Fletcher Cox, DT, PHI
2019: Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
2020: Chris Jones, DT, KC
2021: Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
2022: Chris Jones, DT, KC

For a defensive tackle to beat out a quarterback for the Alumni Award, he has to have a special season. That applies with Jones, who had 15.5 sacks and got the Chiefs to the Super Bowl with an amazing playoff stretch.

Missouri Tigers (17)

2017: Sheldon Richardson, DT, SEA
2018: Sheldon Richardson, DT, MIN
2019: Mitch Morse, C, BUF
2020: Mitch Morse, C, BUF
2021: Mitch Morse, C, BUF
2022: Mitch Morse, C, BUF

Four straight for the Electric Morseman, his only real competition being Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton.

Ole Miss Rebels (26)

2017: Evan Engram, TE, NYG
2018: Eli Manning, QB, NYG
2019: A.J. Brown, WR, TEN
2020: (TIE) A.J. Brown, WR, TEN and DK Metcalf, WR, SEA
2021: DK Metcalf, WR, SEA
2022: A.J. Brown, WR, PHI

Yet again the Initials Boys, A.J. and DK, battled it out for the Reb. Brown was the clear choice between the two in 2022, pulling ahead of Metcalf in Alumni Awards, 2.5-1.5.

South Carolina Gamecocks (27)

2017: Jadeveon Clowney, LB, HOU
2018: Stephon Gilmore, CB, NE
2019: Stephon Gilmore, CB, NE
2020: Javon Kinlaw, DT, SF
2021: Deebo Samuel, WR/RB, SF
2022: Deebo Samuel, WR/RB, SF

Deebo's 2022 wasn't anything like his astounding 2021, but it was easily enough to get another Cock into his trophy case.

Tennessee Volunteers (25)

2017: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
2018: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
2019: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
2020: Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
2021: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/RB, ATL
2022: Trey Smith, G, KC

Alvin Kamara and Cordarrelle Patterson had arguments once more, but Trey Smith played extremely well for a much better team, allowing him to swipe the Vol from his better-known fellow alums.

Texas A&M Aggies (28)

2017: Von Miller, LB, DEN
2018: Von Miller, LB, DEN
2019: Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
2020: Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
2021: Myles Garrett, DE, CLE
2022: Myles Garrett, DE, CLE

Garrett is now four Aggie Awards shy of Miller, who got the next best thing—enormous guaranteed dollars—when he signed with Buffalo last offseason. Garrett almost perished in a midseason car accident that he was fortunate to walk away from, so he is one of the few Alumni Award winners who can put his victory in perspective.

Vanderbilt Commodores (11)

2017: Casey Hayward, CB, LAC
2018: Zach Cunningham, LB, HOU
2019: Zach Cunningham, LB, HOU
2020: Zach Cunningham, LB, HOU
2021: Casey Hayward, CB, LV
2022: Trent Sherfield, WR, MIA

The third receiver in South Beach, Sherfield didn't amass huge numbers, but it was enough to get him past weak competition out of Nashville for the 'Dore Awar'.


9 comments, Last at 28 Feb 2023, 4:39pm

#1 by Alec B // Feb 20, 2023 - 11:36am

Is Hurts a Sooner? Claimed by nobody?

Points: 0

#2 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 20, 2023 - 2:21pm

Think the trend is last team they played with so OK. But if Bama is include AP2 QB is probably > AP1 DL

Points: 0

#3 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 20, 2023 - 3:25pm

Russell Wilson won the Wisconsin award for a few years, so yes Hurts is a Sooner by that metric.

Points: 0

#5 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 21, 2023 - 8:09am

Sooner. If Alabama can claim Hurts, then OSU can claim Burrow.

Points: 0

#8 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 24, 2023 - 12:30pm

He wouldn't even win for OSU this year, which is nuts. What a program.

Points: 0

#4 by laflamablanca87 // Feb 20, 2023 - 3:36pm

I would argue that both Bolton and Markus Golden had better seasons than Mitch Morse. 

Points: 0

#7 by All Is On // Feb 21, 2023 - 11:58am

I know that you annually do these round-ups for the Power 5 and I think they're an interesting way to see what the talent pipeline looks like. I wonder if it'd be worth doing some kind of assessment of schools outside of the Power 5 and maybe even the FCS. Something like an All-Group of 5 team or an All-FCS team. Could be interesting!

Points: 1

#9 by RickD // Feb 28, 2023 - 4:39pm

I'd give the nod to Jefferson over Burrow.  Not that taking Burrow is wrong, per se.  Just that I see "best WR" as a harder goal to reach than "#6 QB".   Jefferson's season was insanely good.  

Points: 0

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