“It’s cold!” CSU receiver Michael Gallup exclaimed as he settled into his room on Wednesday.
The Rams leading receiver is not talking about the dip in temperatures here in Colorado but the weather in his home state of Georgia, where the 2017 ESPN College Football Awards show will be held Thursday night at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior is one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, the annual honor given to the nation’s most outstanding receiver in college football.
Oklahoma State’s James Washington and West Virginia’s David Sills V, who both play in the Big 12 Conference, are the other two finalists for the award.
“Great players that put up great numbers this year. James Washington leads the country in almost every category, David has 18 touchdowns. They’re both just great players.”
Washington, a senior for the Cowboys, leads the nation in receiving yards (1,423) and in receiving yards per game (118.58). He is tied for sixth with 12 receiving touchdowns.
Sills, a junior, is the national leader in touchdown catches (18) but hit just below the thousand-yard mark this year (980) with the Mountaineers.
According to Gallup, Washington is the favorite to win the award.
“The impact he has on his team in that conference, even with two other receivers that hit almost 1,000 yards, and he still leads the team,” Gallup said. “He’s a deep ball threat, he’s a great player and a good character person off the field.”
Even though he’s right up there with Washington and Sills, Gallup is not one to boast about his accomplishments. The Monroe, Georgia, native ranks third in receptions per game (7.8) and fifth in receiving yards (1,345) and receiving yards per game (112.1). While he recorded only 7 touchdowns through the air this season, Gallup’s presence is felt every time he steps onto the field.
“The impact that I had on our team, having a good run offensive wise… I think I did a lot to put us in a good position,” Gallup said only after he credited his teammates for helping him along the way.
Gallup joins Rashard Higgins as the second CSU player to be named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Higgins was up for the award in 2014 after leading the nation in receiving yards (1,750) and touchdown catches (17).
“Rashard has about every single record at CSU as a receiver. To be put in the same conversation, that’s a big deal.”
Alabama’s Amari Cooper, who was the nation’s leader in receptions (124) and second in yards (1,727) and touchdowns (16), beat out Higgins for the award in 2014.
Even though no receiver outside of the five power conferences has won the Biletnikoff since Louisiana Tech’s Troy Edwards won it in 1998, Gallup is excited to give himself and CSU more exposure.
“A lot of people don’t really known CSU or know us as a big football program. To get my name out there, it’s a big deal. Getting that exposure is a great thing in the long run.”
Gallup’s sister, brother, and best friend will join him for Thursday’s award ceremony before rejoining his team in Fort Collins on Friday. Colorado State (7-5, 5-3 in Mountain West) is currently preparing for their December 16 showdown with Marshall (7-5, 4-4 in Conference USA) in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. Kick-off is set for 2:30 p.m. at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque and will air on ESPN. It will be CSU’s fifth consecutive bowl game, tying their longest bowl streak set back from 1999 to 2003.
Following their bowl game, Gallup will participate in the Senior Bowl college all-star game in Mobile, Alabama, on January 27. That game will be televised at 12:30 p.m. on NFL Network.
For now, Gallup plans to enjoy his time in Atlanta, meeting the other nominees, interacting with the media, and getting all fancy for the awards show.
“I like dressing up, I don’t get to do it often,” Gallup said with a chuckle.
The ESPN College Football Awards Show airs Thursday night at 5 p.m. on ESPN.