Award goes to Oklahoma receiver
The Daily Reflector
Friday, December 9, 2016
The Biletnikoff Award went to the Heisman Trophy finalist. The receiver from big-time program Oklahoma.
Dede Westbrook from Oklahoma beat out East Carolina’s Zay Jones for the Biletnikoff Award on Thursday night, earning the distinction as college football’s “most outstanding receiver” as determined by a national panel of voters.
Westbrook’s 16 touchdown receptions were twice as many as Jones’ eight during the regular season, but the Pirates’ star led the country in receptions (158) and receiving yards (1,746) and late in the season became the Football Bowl Subdivision all-time and single-season leader in catches.
This is the second straight year the honor of the country’s top receiver went to a player from the Big 12 Conference.
Westbrook, a former junior college standout, referenced his two children and the importance of his mother during his acceptance speech on the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN. As part of the show, Jones was named to the Walter Camp All-American first team.
“With my journey, my beautiful mother always kept me motivated,” said Westbrook, who has 74 receptions for 1,465 yards during his senior season. “At times I felt like giving up and I didn't think this route was for me, but she stayed on me and kept pushing me.”
Jones finished with 399 career receptions for 4,279 yards. On Nov. 19 in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, he passed former ECU teammate Justin Hardy to become the FBS all-time receptions leader.
A week later in the Pirates’ season-finale at Temple, he set a new NCAA mark for catches in a season.
The top pass-catcher for the Sooners had a huge October, when he totaled 40 catches for 881 yards and 11 touchdowns in a 5-0 run for OU.
Big plays also have been key for Westbrook. He has 12 touchdowns this year coming from 40-plus yards out.
Oklahoma is 10-2 and on a nine-game win streak heading into the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2. ECU finished 3-9 despite Jones’ stellar play.
The third finalist was Northwestern’s Austin Carr, who made 84 catches for 1,196 yards and 12 TDs.