Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dennis Pitta Remains Mackey Award Front Runner

With week 11 in the books, the Nassau County Sports Commission, released its list of 8 semi-finalists for the Mackey Award given to the nation’s top tight end. Despite stringing together a number of quiet games over the past couple of weeks, Dennis Pitta is still very much in the mix, and must be considered at least a favorite to be included in the list of three finalists to be released on Monday, Nov 23. A big game against Air Force (9 catches, 113 yards last year) could be what puts him over the top.

As we have been following this race on this site, it is worth mentioning that of the eight semi-finalists, three had appeared in my front runner list, two as contenders, and three as darkhorses (see

Here is how they stack up:

name, yr, school (record)        G   rec   yds  TD  rec/g   yds/r  yds/g
Dennis Pitta, Sr, BYU (8-2)       10    45   624    5    4.50    13.9    62.4
Cody Slate, Sr, Marshall (5-5)   10    50   607    4    5.00    12.1    60.7
Aaron Hernandez, Jr, Fl (10-0)  10    46   571    2    4.60   12.4     57.1
Dorin Dickerson, Sr, Pitt (9-1)   10    43   496   10   4.30    11.5    49.6
Ed Dickson, Sr, Oregon (8-2)    10    37   488    5   3.70    13.2     48.8
Anthony McCoy, Sr, USC (7-3)   8     17   382   1    2.13    22.5     47.8
Kyle Rudolph, So, ND (6-4)        9     33   364   3    3.67    11.0     40.4
Tony Moeaki, Sr, Iowa (9-2)      7     26   302   4    3.71    11.6     43.1

This is a great group of tight ends and it will be difficult for the commission to narrow this field down to just three. All of them except Aaron Hernandez have been named Mackey Tight End of the Week at least once, with Pitta (3—2009, 2008x2), Slate (3—2009x2, 2007), and Moeaki (2—2009, 2007) with multiple recognitions. I am going to go ahead and take a crack at narrowing this down (prior to this weekend’s pivotal games)…

First we will eliminate the last three on this list. McCoy only has 17 catches (though a high 22.5 yds/catch average) and USC has suffered a few embarrassing losses of late. Rudolph is only a sophomore and is a notch below the other five in stats; Notre Dame is also in a funk. Moeaki has only played in 7 games so far, and Iowa’s season has also lost a bit of its early luster, which would have helped his cause.

We will call the first five, then, the front runners and can make a case for each of them.
Dennis Pitta leads in yards and yards/game. He is tied for second in TDs and right at the top (third) in receptions. He has been named TE of the week 3 times and voters will remember his clutch 4th down catch against Oklahoma.

Cody Slate has also been named TEOW 3 times, including twice this season. He leads in catches and is right in the mix in yards and TDs. His liability is his team’s 5-5 record in CUSA.

Aaron Hernandez is right near the top in just about every category and is a key player on the number one team in the country. With only two touchdowns this season and also being a junior, it is somewhat easier to find reasons to leave him off the list of final three.

Dorin Dickerson immediately stands out for his 10 touchdowns. His yards and receptions are also comparable. However, he racked up 4 of those TDs against Yougstown St and Buffalo. With Pitt enjoying a breakout year, he has been the beneficiary of some additional media love.

Ed Dickson has quietly been a big part of Oregon’s comeback this season. His yards and touchdowns have been on par with this group, although his number of receptions lags just a bit.

Narrowing the field of five-I think that Hernandez will be the first one left off the list of five for the reasons mentioned above. Of the remaining four, it will depend somewhat on this weekend’s performance. Pitta has less to prove and with at least an average game, will likely be in; a big game could solidify his finalist status. For Slate (due to 5-5 record) and Dickson (late bloomer), I believe that it will come down to their game this weekend vs. SMU and Arizona, respectively. Dickerson has a bye, but could slip in should neither of the other two impress. But should they both have big games, either Pitta or Dickerson could find themselves without a chair when the music stops on Monday.

Dennis Pitta (big game against Air Force, make-up for not including him as a finalist last year)
Cody Slate (high NFL potential, big game over SMU)
Ed Dickson (will have a chance to impress vs AZ, while Dickinson has bye. Also, was initially listed as a front runner in this column, so he gets the nod)

On the other hand, a few minutes on the website of the award and it is obvious that they are big on NFL potential and validation, and at the end of the day, that may be the unspoken, but final, criteria. In that scenario, where stats don’t matter, how will Pitta Stack up? Feel free to share your thoughts…

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