By John P. Lopez (@LopezOnSports)
As the college football season begins to separate pretenders from contenders, so, too, have the game’s biggest playmakers begun to stake claim to the title of the nation’s best, “X-Factor.”
Among clear contenders for the inaugural Dante Hall Award, which recognizes college football’s most impactful player shorter than 6-feet tall, are Oregon game-breaker Charles Nelson and upstart Washington’s John Ross. The twosome coincidentally faced off last Saturday in what would be a Huskies romp, but each has racked up huge X-Factor performances.
The award will be presented in Houston in December, benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, and honors players who not only contribute offensively, but also can be game-changers on special teams. The award’s namesake was a four-year starter at Texas A&M University, accumulating 3,078-yards from scrimmage and 1,629-yards as a return man. As a professional, Hall was named to the 2000-2010 NFL All-Decade Team, twice earning first-team All-Pro honors, and finishing his career with 14,386-yards and 24 touchdowns.
Thus far, Nelson and Ross have more than lived up to the standard — Nelson ranking as the nation’s leader in combined return yardage, while adding 31 receptions for 285-yards. Ross, meanwhile, already has accounted for nine touchdowns receiving, one rushing and added a 92-yard kickoff return for a TD.
Numerous other X-Factor type players dot the latest watch list, including North Carolina’s T.J. Logan, with five rushing TDs, two receiving and a 95-yard kickoff return for a score. Explosive Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, Houston’s D’Eriq King and Pitt’s Quadree Henderson also have put together explosive seasons already, and are among 36 players on the latest watch list.
Any FBS player who is listed UNDER 6-feet-tall on official depth charts is eligible. Candidates must participate on offense and any special teams. We invite nominations throughout the season.
|Desmon White||5-7, 160||TCU|
|Christian Kirk||5-11, 200||Texas A&M|
|Charles Nelson||5-8, 170||Oregon|
|John Ross||5-11, 196||Washington|
|Tim White||5-11, 185||Arizona State|
|De’Mornay Pierson-El||5-9, 185||Nebraska|
|Kade Harrington||5-9, 192||Lamar|
|Speedy Noil||5-11, 200||Texas A&M|
|T.J. Logan||5-10, 190||North Carolina|
|Kermit Whitfield||5-8, 182||Florida State|
|Dontre Wilson||5-10, 195||Ohio State|
|Isaiah McKenzie||5-8, 164||Georgia|
|Tyrell Johnson||5-7, 165||Arizona|
|Jesus Wilson||5-11, 176||Florida State|
|Cameron Batson||5-9, 175||Texas Tech|