<
>

SEC takes home seven awards Thursday

The SEC made out like a fat rat right at "The Home Depot College Football Awards Show" Thursday night.

LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu got things started for the conference by taking home the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given to the nation's best defensive player.

It's hard to argue against Mathieu winning. He was arguably the most exciting player to watch this season, regardless of position. He flew around the field, picking up tackles, stripping balls, batting balls away and genuinely frustrating just about every offensive player he came in contact with.

Quarterbacks had to shift things around in order to direct passes away from him, but that rarely worked. The Honey Badger led LSU with 70 tackles, forced six fumbles, recovered five fumbles and had four non-offensive touchdowns.

He took what he wanted all year, took the Bednarik and is hoping the take the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night.

Joining his partner in crime was fellow cornerback Morris Claiborne, who won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the country's top defensive back. Claiborne led LSU and was second in the SEC with six interceptions and also defended 12 passes. Claiborne might be the best cover corner in the country. A lot was made about Patrick Peterson leaving LSU, but Claiborne made it seem like Peterson never left. It's no surprise that Claiborne is projected to be the top cornerback taken in next year's NFL draft.

Alabama running back Trent Richardson was named the top running back in the country, winning the Doak Walker Award. Richardson led the SEC with 1,583 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. He averaged 137 yards in SEC play and ran for 100-plus yards in nine games this season. He was easily the most valuable player for Alabama this season, and the offense really did go through him.

Like Mathieu, he's headed to New York as a finalist for the Heisman. Can Richardson follow in the footsteps of close friend and former Bama back Mark Ingram?

There was also a very special moment Thursday night when Alabama was awarded the Disney Spirit Award, which is given to the most inspirational team or player. Alabama players received a tremendously loud ovation as they went to receive their award. This team stood as a symbol of hope for the city of Tuscaloosa, Ala., after devastating tornadoes swept through the state of the Alabama and decimated parts of Tuscaloosa.

Long snapper Carson Tinker, who lost his girlfriend during the storm, was interviewed on stage, making for a very powerful moment. Tinker showed such composure and strength as he recounted the months after those devastating storms. The moment touched a lot of people, including LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard, who sent a very supportive tweet for the Alabama program, from his account @LSUShep10.

Here's what Shepard tweeted:

"Watching this segment I look at Bama in a different light.. I'm proud of you boys lets make this game Historic ... Geaux Tigers. #RollTide."

Here are the rest of the SEC award winners:

Outland Trophy (best interior lineman): Barrett Jones, Alabama

The Home Depot Award (Coach of the Year): Les Miles, LSU

Frank Broyles Award (Assistant Coach of the Year): John Chavis, LSU