On Tuesday night, Evan Engram finally received some well-deserved recognition for his outstanding senior season. Engram became the first tight end to ever win the Conerly Trophy, an award given annually to the best college football player in the state of Mississippi. It was a fitting tribute to perhaps the greatest tight end in Ole Miss football history. Engram holds both the career and single-season Ole Miss records for most receptions, yards, and touchdowns by a tight end.
Of course, the Conerly Trophy wasn’t the only award Engram was expected to contend for after this season. After leading the nation’s tight ends in receiving yards and finishing second in receptions and touchdowns, Engram was expected to be a shoe-in as a finalist for the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate tight end. Unfortunately, the selection committee didn’t appear to bother with facts or data and Engram was snubbed despite seemingly possessing the nation’s strongest statistical resume. Instead, they named Alabama’s O.J. Howard, Clemson’s Jordan Leggett, and Michigan’s Jake Butt.
Let’s take a quick look at how Engram stacks up against the finalists:
|National Rank Among Tight Ends|
|Evan Engram||O.J. Howard||Jordan Leggett||Jake Butt|
The selection of Howard over Engram is particularly egregious. The two tight ends play in the same division and are used similarly within their respective offensives, yet Engram finished the year with twice the yards and four times as many touchdowns (8:2), despite playing in one less game.
In an attempt to justify Engram’s snub, some pointed to criteria for the award that state: “a player should be a ‘true tight end’ in the style of John Mackey, play on the interior line with blocking responsibilities and possess the potential to play tight end on the professional level.” Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork quickly took to Twitter to dispel the notion that this requirement ought to disqualify Engram:
Admirably, Engram himself took the news graciously:
Wow! Thank you for all the support but I got my award when I woke up this morning! Congrats to the finalists! Well deserved— Eazy E (@EvanEngram) November 22, 2016
No award will likely ease the pain of a 5-7 senior season, but Engram can take solace in the fact that his performance this year likely raised his draft stock. After a disappointing junior season in which he posted the lowest yards per reception and least touchdowns of his career, Engram worked to develop his rapport with Chad Kelly in the offseason and established himself as the focal point of the Rebel offense in his senior campaign. At 6-3 and 235 pounds, Engram’s size and blocking ability are a concern for some NFL scouts. However, his speed and route- running, as well as his proven record of productivity as a four-time All-SEC tight end, could make him a dangerous receiving tight end at the next level. For now, Engram appears to be projected as a second or third round pick, but he’ll have an opportunity to improve that with a strong performance in the Senior Bowl. In the meantime, congratulations on the trophy Evan, and thank you for four damn good years.