AMES, Iowa – The John Mackey Award, the honor given annually to the nation’s best tight end, announced its eight semifinalists on Monday and Iowa State star E.J. Bibbs made the cut.
It’s a great honor for the senior co-captain, but it shouldn’t come as a shock. Bibbs has been putting up All-America numbers for the Cyclones all season, leading all “power 5” conference tight ends in catches per game (4.4) and touchdowns (7), all against one of the nation’s strongest schedules (Sagarin ranked ISU’s schedule as the ninth-toughest heading into week 13).
Iowa State has never had a player win an individual national award throughout its history. Yes, even Troy Davis didn’t get one. Maybe one of the most perplexing snubs ever was when Davis, who was the runner-up in the 1996 Heisman Trophy race to QB Danny Wuerffel, lost the Doak Walker Award to Texas Tech’s Byron Hanspard that season.
Bibbs may not win the Mackey Award either, but when looking at the stats of the other seven semifinalists, his numbers certainly stack up. In fact, you could argue that Bibbs is the cream of the crop.
Let’s take a look.
Mackey Award Semifinalists
E.J. Bibbs (Iowa State) – 40 receptions, 339 yards, 7 TDs, 9 games
Evan Engram (Mississippi) – 27 receptions, 415 yards, 2 TDs, 10 games
Ben Koyack (Notre Dame) – 27 receptions, 289 yards, 2 TDs, 10 games
Jimmay Mundine (Kansas) – 40 receptions, 537 yards, 3 TDs, 10 games
Nick O’Leary (Florida State) – 37 receptions, 406 yards, 2 TDs, 10 games
Jean Sifrin (Massachusetts) – 37 receptions, 539 yards, 5 TDs, 9 games
Clive Walford (Miami Fla.) – 33 receptions, 522 yards, 7 TDs, 10 games
Maxx Williams (Minnesota) – 25 receptions, 373 yards, 7 TDs, 9 games
You also have to consider that Bibbs got off to a slow start after having knee surgery in fall camp. Now at full strength, his productivity has increased throughout the year, tallying 29 catches, 251 yards and 6 TDs in his last five games.
His head coach doesn’t think there is a better tight end in the nation.
“I don’t get up here and speak very often about individuals, but he is deserving of being a finalist for this award,” Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads said. “He likes to play. I think that competitive nature and enjoying the game takes Sunday through Saturday, not just game day, and he enjoys the process of being a college football player.”
The three finalists for the award will be announced on Monday. Let’s hope the selection committee agrees with what Cyclones fans already know. Bibbs is the best.