Drake London & the Biletnikoff

Can USC’s Drake London still win the Biletnikoff Award?

Voters weigh in on whether the injured Trojans’ absence will affect his candidacy for the nation’s top pass catcher

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  On Monday, 10 semifinalists were announced for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to college football’s top pass catcher. Among the nominated receivers and tight ends was USC’s Drake London, whose 2021 campaign came to an abrupt end three weeks ago.

London was in the middle of a scintillating season that was making him a favorite to win the Biletnikoff: 88 receptions and 1,084 yards, including 460 after the catch, for an average of 12.3 yards per reception.

But as he made his seventh and final touchdown reception in the second quarter against Arizona, London’s right cleat got caught in the turf as he spun into the end zone. He pounded on the field in agony after suffering what would later be diagnosed as a season-ending ankle fracture.

So while London was an easy choice to be a Biletnikoff semifinalist, the decision on his eight-game season becomes more difficult as voters narrow the list down to three finalists, with ballots due Sunday.

Some voters were more lenient, though.

“Most schools play FCS games and I don’t consider those stats,” The Oregonian‘s James Crepea said. “The maximum number of games is 15, so eight is still more than half a season and thus statistically relevant to me.”

Where London does make his case still is in his per-game statistics. He is second nationally behind only Western Kentucky’s Jerreth Sterns with 11.0 receptions per game. And London sits third behind Utah State’s Deven Thompkins and Sterns in receiving yards per game with 135.5.

Still, there was a consensus that London was behind the eight-ball because his credentials are etched in stone, while others can continue to build theirs.

“I feel badly for Drake getting injured in the midst of such a great season. I’ll have to weigh how others do in the final weeks vs. the body of work he put up, but I think he’s in a situation similar to Tua Tagovailoa in 2019 when he was injured in the ninth game,” Sports Illustrated‘s Pat Forde said. “That cost him a chance at being a Heisman finalist. … Durability is part of the game and has to be factored into awards, in my opinion.”

“At the moment, I still compare him with everyone else because the games are almost even,” The Athletic‘s Chris Vannini said. “But with each week of not seeing him, he kind of falls out of mind.”

In the week leading up to his injury, London was second nationally with 1,003 receiving yards and 11.3 receptions per game. He fell to third in receiving yards after playing only one half against Arizona.

Even with one or two fewer games played than everyone else on the list, London still ranks eighth in receiving yards and second nationally in total receptions. And he leads the country with 19 contested catches despite missing two games.

“I want a player’s final stats to at least be in the same ballpark as their competitors,” CBS Sports‘ Shehan Jeyarajah said. “When looking at the other competitors, London’s production and impact across eight games more than holds its own. He’s easily cleared that bar.”

ocregister.com

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Rushmore
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Noble Member
Rushmore(@rushmore)
November 19, 2021 1:14 pm

There is no receiver at the college level that is at London’s exceedingly high level. Even in the game where he was defended by repeated muggings he produced. There is no reason to believe that his productivity would have fallen off had he not had that season ending injury. He is deserving of the Biletnikoff as well First Team All-American post season honors. A great Trojan is he.

Last edited 11 days ago by Rushmore
RialtoTrojan
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Noble Member
RialtoTrojan(@rialtotrojan)
November 18, 2021 12:36 pm

An idea that just might work this weekend, have the coordinators trade places. The defensive coordinator can’t stop the run and that’s just what the offense needs is unstoppable runs.
The offensive unit cannot get past the line of scrimmage honestly that is where the defense needs to stop the Bruins-at the line of scrimmage.
See? It works!

Steveg
Member
Mt Rushmore
Steveg(@steveg)
November 18, 2021 4:37 am

Why does the SEC get away with so many cupcake games per season. To me it is a joke.

Golden Trojan
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Diamond Member
Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
November 18, 2021 7:53 am
Reply to  Steveg

Especially in November. A glorified extra bye week, scrimmage. Smart on their part. Maybe the rest of the country should have a cupcake in November. MMMM… cupcakes…who needs pumpkin pie🤗

Steveg
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Mt Rushmore
Steveg(@steveg)
November 18, 2021 11:02 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Hey, cupcakes any time, now is time for pumpkin pie.

Steveg
Member
Mt Rushmore
Steveg(@steveg)
November 18, 2021 6:43 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

We are going to spend it in Fort Worth with our son and his family. Taking my grandson fishing Tuesday, going to wave to RJJ up on shore. lol You have a great holiday too Allen.

UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan(@utahtrojan)
November 17, 2021 9:58 pm

He deserves it, but I don’t see any way that he wins it.

Steveg
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Mt Rushmore
Steveg(@steveg)
November 18, 2021 4:35 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Like Hufanga cannot be replaced, but then Toa can’t either, just great versus bad. Toa’s replacement was much better, Hufanga’s fell short. It always seems it is not a good thing to follow someone great, you just fall short of expectations.