Indiana University senior wide receiver Shane Wynn has been named to the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff and Paul Hornung Awards. The 5-foot-7, 167-pound speedster has plenty of experience and talent to take home one or both of the awards. During his three seasons as the starting slot receiver, Wynn has totaled 133 receptions for 1,490 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is expected to add significantly to those totals in his final season, but how great do they have to be for him to win these awards?
The Biletnikoff Award, which is given to college football’s most outstanding pass-catcher, will be the tougher one for Wynn to win. This is not because Wynn is not capable of producing the required statistics, but because high-profile awards such as this one are rarely given to players who are on teams with a losing record. This same notion comes into play with the voting of the all-American and all-conference teams. Although IU’s chances of becoming bowl eligible may be greater than ever this year, the team’s history suggests they will likely have a losing record once again.
Past recipients of the Biletnikoff Award include current NFL wide receivers Justin Blackmon, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson. All of which had overly impressive receiving statistics. The same goes for last year’s winner, Oregon State University wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who had 120 receptions for 1,670 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2013. Wynn is certainly talented enough to put up similar numbers, but in the right offensive system.
All of the past winners I mentioned, including Cooks, were far and away the number one offensive option for their teams. IU has many talented options on offense which will likely hinder Wynn’s chances of having eye-popping stats. Cody Latimer, currently a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, hauled in 72 receptions for 1,096 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2013 as a junior at IU. Those great receiving statistics only helped Latimer to be named to the Belinikoff’s semifinalist list, but he was eventually eliminated once the finalists were named.
It would not shock me at all if Wynn has similar numbers in 2014, but his chances at being just a finalist for the award will be the same as Latimer’s unless the Hoosiers increase their number of wins from last year (5) and become bowl eligible.
Wynn has a much greater chance at winning the Paul Hornung Award, which is given to college football’s most outstanding versatile player. Although this award has existed for just four seasons, it has already had a wide variety of recipients. The first two winners were primarily defensive players but also contributed in other aspects of the game, but the past two winners were wide receivers who contributed in the run game and as return specialists. Odell Beckham Jr., last season’s winner, had 57 receptions for 1,117 yards and 8 touchdowns, as well as 5 rushes for 58 yards for Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2013. He also had 141 yards on 14 punt returns, and 806 yards on 30 kick returns.
I am certain that Wynn can have similar, if not better, statistics this season. He had 46 receptions for 633 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 12 yards and a touchdown on 4 rushing attempts. Wynn has also shown that he can produce as a return specialist. He had 98 yards and a touchdown on just 8 punt returns last season. He also had 415 yards on just 18 kick returns and he even returned a kickoff for a touchdown as a true freshman in 2011. Since he is the only returning starter at receiver, Wynn will likely be the focal point in the passing game, especially early on. He will also be the primary kick and punt returner this coming season. As long as he can stay healthy, Wynn should be at least a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, if he does not actually win it.
Similar to the Biletnikoff Award, the Paul Hornung Award seems to select players who are on winning teams as the winners. Wynn will only make the semifinalist list for the Biletnikoff Award due to the abundance of talent on the IU offense. However, I do think that he should be a finalist and has a good chance at winning the Paul Hornung Award, especially if IU becomes bowl eligible in 2014.