Commentary

The Nation's Best: Sixth Annual Herbie Awards

Updated: August 28, 2007, 9:44 AM ET
By Kirk Herbstreit | Special to ESPN.com

It's the sixth anniversary of the Herbies, and we're celebrating with one of the top classes of award winners. This list has everything to do with the playmakers, the hogmollies, the difference makers and, in short, just great college football players. It has nothing -- nothing -- to do with their pro potential.

Herbies are given to the best college football players, coaches, teams and fans from across the nation.

Also, this is just my list. These are my choices and not everyone will agree. That's the beauty of it. Let the second-guessing begin.

So, without further ado, the sixth annual Herbie Awards.

Best Running Backs
1. Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
Adrian Peterson ran away with a Herbie.
2. Michael Bush, Louisville
3. Marshawn Lynch, California
4. Darren McFadden, Arkansas
5. Jamaal Charles, Texas

Best Wide Receivers

Jeff Samardzija was a catch for the Irish.
1. Jeff Samardzija, Notre Dame
2. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
3. Dwayne Jarrett, USC
4. Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State
5. Chansi Stuckey, Clemson
6. Derrick Williams, Penn State
7. DeSean Jackson, California

Top Offensive Linemen
1. Ryan Kalil, C, USC
Ryan Kalil is a menace on the line.
2. Jordan Grimes, G, Purdue
3. Brian Daniels, G, Colorado
4. Justin Blalock, T, Texas
5. Ryan Harris, T, Notre Dame

Top Tight Ends

Greg Olsen gives the 'Canes a lift.
1. Greg Olsen, Miami
2. Matt Spaeth, Minnesota
3. Zach Miller, Arizona State
4. Joe Newton, Oregon State
5. Matt Herian, Nebraska

Top Quarterbacks
Old School (Classic dropback style) New School (Run and pass like Michael Vick)
1. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame 1. Troy Smith, Ohio State
2. Brian Brohm, Louisville 2. Drew Stanton, Michigan State
3. Chad Henne, Michigan 3. Pat White, West Virginia
4. Drew Weatherford, Florida State 4. Drew Tate, Iowa
5. Kyle Wright, Miami 5. Willie Tuitama, Arizona

Top Defensive Ends Top Defensive Tackles
1. Gaines Adams, Clemson 1. Frank Okam, Texas
2. Quentin Moses, Georgia 2. Quinn Pitcock, Ohio State
3. Tim Crowder, Texas 3. Baraka Atkins, Miami
4. Lawrence Jackson, USC 4. Brandon Mebane, California
5. Adam Carriker, Nebraska 5. Sedrick Ellis, USC
6. Mkristo Bruce, Washington State
Larry Birdine, Oklahoma

Top Outside Linebackers Top Inside Linebackers
1. Paul Posluszny, Penn State 1. Anthony Waters, Clemson
2. Rufus Alexander, Oklahoma 2. Desmond Bishop, California
3. Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech 3. Brandon Siler, Florida
4. Brian Toal, Boston College 4. Corey McKeon, Nebraska
5. Ali Highsmith, LSU 5. H.B. Blades, Pittsburgh
6. Patrick Willis, Ole Miss

Top Cornerbacks Top Safeties
1. Daymeion Hughes, California 1. Michael Johnson, Arizona
2. Leon Hall, Michigan 2. Kenny Phillips, Miami
3. Antoine Cason, Arizona 3. Brandon Meriweather, Miami
4. Justin King, Penn State 4. LaRon Landry, LSU
5. Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State 5. Michael Griffin, Texas

Movin' On Up Headin' On Down
Arizona Florida
Clemson Kansas State
Miami LSU
Michigan Oregon
Nebraska Texas A&M
Pittsburgh UCLA
Tennessee

Mark It Down
CONFERENCE CHAMP SLEEPER
ACC Atlantic Clemson
By far Tommy Bowden's most talented team on both sides of ball. Can Will Proctor get it done?
Boston College
Steady Eddie on Chestnut Hill.
ACC Coastal Miami
After massive changes to coaching staff and being kicked around in the offseason, look out for the 'Canes.
Virginia Tech
Defense alone will keep the Hokies in every game. Will they have enough offense to win the league?
ACC Champ Miami
Big East Louisville
I love West Virginia and Rich Rodriguez, but something always happens to the team in this conference that is wearing a bull's-eye.
Pittsburgh
The much maligned Tyler Palko has leadership and ability. Along with H.B. Blades, the Panthers are a threat.
Big Ten Ohio State
The Buckeyes have the most electrifying offense in nation, and despite nine new starters on defense, they will have one of fastest defenses in the nation as well.
Michigan
Following a 7-5 season and the ridicule that goes along with it, the Wolverines have too much pride not to come out swinging.
Big 12 North Nebraska
Bill Callahan has the Huskers believing; Zac Taylor is the difference.
Colorado
It may not be this year, but it won't take Dan Hawkins long to work his magic.
Big 12 South Texas
The Horns just need their young QB to distribute the football to a bevy of talent.
Texas Tech
Mike Leach's team is always competitive. This year, he gets Texas in Lubbock.
Big 12 Champ Texas
Pac-10 USC
Despite obvious losses, there is one constant: Pete Carroll.
Arizona
In his third year, Mike Stoops has built a nasty defense and may have the Pac-10 offensive player of the year in Tuitama.
SEC East Tennessee
Talent isn't the question. It's all about chemistry.
South Carolina
Don't forget about the Ol' Ball Coach nestled away in Columbia. By SEC standards, it's a manageable conference schedule and it's the Gamecocks' second year in Steve Spurrier's system.
SEC West Auburn
The Tigers are incredibly athletic on defense, and with Brandon Cox and Kenny Irons on offense, the Tigers will be the team to beat.
Arkansas
Every third year I love Woo Pig Sooey. This happens to be the third year. Go Hogs!
SEC Champ Auburn
Conference USA East UCF
Conference USA West UTEP
Conference USA Champ UTEP
MAC East Kent State
MAC West Northern Illinois
MAC Champ Northern Illinois
Mountain West Champ BYU
Sun Belt Champ UL Lafayette
WAC Champ Boise State

Top True Freshmen

Florida State's Myron Rolle is living up to the hype.
C.J. Gable, USC
Percy Harvin, Florida
Brandon Minor, Michigan
Myron Rolle, Florida State
Sam Shields, Miami
C.J. Spiller, Clemson
Chris Wells, Ohio State
Kenny Wilson, Nebraska
Al Woods, LSU
Sam Young, Notre Dame

What's My Name: Players who will be household names by October

Willie Tuitama is a name you'll know.
Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma
Nate Longshore, Cal
Brandon Ore, Virginia Tech
Raymell Rice, Rutgers
Javon Ringer, Michigan State
Nate Swift, Nebraska
Rendrick Taylor, Clemson
Travis Thomas, Notre Dame
Lawrence Timmons, Florida State
Willie Tuitama, Arizona



Favorite Play Callers
1. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame
Charlie Weis makes coaching look good.
2. Jeff Tedford, Cal
3. Steve Sarkisian, USC
4. Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia
5. Al Borges, Auburn
6. Bobby Petrino, Louisville

Best Defensive Minds

Gene Chizik will be counted on in the Horns' title defense.
1. Gene Chizik, Texas
2. Jon Tenuta, Georgia Tech
3. Vic Koenning, Clemson
4. Mark Stoops, Arizona
5. Jim Heacock, Ohio State
6. Bud Foster, Virginia Tech



Best Game-Day Coaches Top Future Coaches
1. Pete Carroll, USC 1. Gene Chizik, Texas
2. Mack Brown, Texas 2. Steve Sarkisian, USC
3. Jim Tressel, Ohio State 3. Rob Spence, Clemson
4. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame 4. Frank Cignetti, North Carolina
5. Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia 5. Kevin Steele, Florida State



Best Student Sections
Student sections gain respect from me for originality, support (noise) and organization.
1. Penn State -- After witnessing the whiteout last year and seeing Paternoville, I'm a 100 percent believer that the Nittany Lions have the best student section in the nation.
2. Notre Dame -- High points for T-shirt coordination for every home game and for its overall support.
3. Texas A&M -- Even though its team has fallen on hard times, based on my criteria, the Aggies student section still scores high points in all categories.
4. Michigan -- Based solely on outstanding organization (although it loses points for the smart-aleck factor). I do, however, admire its energy.
5. Florida -- The Swamp is one of my favorite places in the country to watch a game. The student section creates a ton of energy that is evident from the field.



Prettiest Coeds
1. All SEC schools
It doesn't matter where, when or who is playing. This argument is closed.
2. Do we really need a No. 2? Is it even possible?
Honorable Mention:
Florida State, Texas, Arizona State, Clemson



All Uniform Team: Players who just look good in their uniform
Offensive Team Defensive Team
QB - Brady Quinn, Notre Dame DE - Gaines Adams, Clemson
RB - Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma DE - Quentin Moses, Georgia
RB - Darren McFadden, Arkansas DT - Frank Okam, Texas
WR - Dwayne Jarrett, USC LB - Desmond Bishop, Cal
WR - Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State LB - Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech
WR - DeSean Jackson, Cal LB - Paul Posluszny, Penn State
C - Dan Mozes, West Virginia LB - Rufus Alexander, Oklahoma
G - James Marten, Boston College CB - Antoine Cason, Arizona
G - Rueben Riley, Michigan CB - Josh Pinkard, USC
T - Sam Baker, USC S - Kenny Phillips, Miami
T - Joe Thomas, Wisconsin S - LaRon Landry, LSU

Top 10 GameDay Locations
1. Ohio State -- Rabid fans and one of the top programs in the nation. And I get to have my kids on the set. Plus, the GameDay crew has fallen in love with City Barbeque.
2. USC -- I'm pretty shocked to put a Pac-10 school on this list, but Pete Carroll, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush have made our L.A. stops extremely memorable. Can the legacy continue without Matt and Reggie?
3. LSU -- Some of the best fans in the country, an unbelievable tailgate scene and a great Friday dinner at Ruffino's.
4. Florida -- When the Gators are good, there is not a more vocal crowd in the country
5. Penn State -- The Nittany Lions are supported by the best student section in America.
6. Auburn -- Like most SEC schools, Auburn has a rabid fan base and a Chick-Fil-A really close to our set.
7. Virginia Tech -- Frank Beamer's fan base adores its Hokies and is always very accommodating to College GameDay -- not to mention a Friday lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings topped off by a blizzard from the DQ.
8. Alabama -- We have a great setup at the quad. Very friendly tailgaters offering delicious BBQ. But most important, 'Bama has by far the best security service we get anywhere on the road. Note to fans: It would be wise to be on your best behavior when Chris, Lee and I are walking with our officers in Tuscaloosa.
9. Notre Dame -- I'd like to welcome the Irish back to the list. Outside of the obvious tradition and ambiance of South Bend, the Irish faithful are borderline obnoxious with their regained swagger and love for their school.
10. Oklahoma -- Even though the Sooners are coming off a down year, Norman has been a consistent stop for GameDay. Oklahoma has a highly supportive fan base. And there is nothing like a dinner at Pearl's the night before a big game

Favorite Airports
Ranking based on expediting passengers and cleanliness.
1. Austin, Texas -- Clean and always great service.
2. Starkville, Miss. -- The Golden Triangle has just one gate, which means it doesn't take long to get your bags.
3. Tallahassee, Fla. -- Easy in and out. Very quick access to school.
4. Phoenix -- The only potential pitfall is the length of time to claim your bag -- otherwise high marks.
5. Gainesville, Fla. -- Very quick ride to the hotel and stadium.

Favorite Restaurants
1. Lil' Dooey in Starkville, Miss. (Hands down, the best barbecue in the country.)
2. Cypress Inn in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (The chicken with white barbecue sauce is a must.)
3. El Arroyo in Austin, Texas. (Great Tex-Mex.)
4. Ruffino's in Baton Rouge, La. (Phenomenal combination of Cajun and Italian.)
5. Hyde Park Steakhouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Best steak I've ever had.)



Kirk Herbstreit is an analyst on ESPN's College GameDay. Chat with Kirk Herbstreit every Thursday during the season.

Kirk Herbstreit

College Football analyst
Kirk Herbstreit has been an ESPN college football studio analyst since August 1996. Herbstreit, who joined ESPN in September 1995 as a college football sideline analyst for ESPN2, is also a game analyst for ESPN's Thursday night college football telecasts.