Given that 2013-2014 wasn't exactly a banner year in Boston College athletics history, the Male Athlete of the Year award was one of the few awards that really had more than one absolute marquee, slam-dunk choice. There were really only two choices - Andre Williams and Johnny Gaudreau - and one might expect it would be a close vote. But in the end, Andre Williams took the award in a runaway.
While it's no slight to what Johnny Gaudreau accomplished in winning the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's best player, Andre Williams' sensational, out-of-nowhere rise to putting up one of the best seasons in college football history was a staggering accomplishment, and one that can be credited with helping put BC football back on the map. Everyone knew Johnny Gaudreau was the leading candidate for the Hobey this year, and everyone expected BC to make a deep tournament run. Nobody saw Andre's emergence coming, and very few thought BC would emerge from the shadows of the Spaziani era to immediately make a bowl game in year one under Steve Addazio.
By this point, we all know Andre's tale, but it's worth talking about over and over again, as we will for a long time. Williams ran the ball 355 times for 2177 yards and 18 touchdowns, including an insane stretch where he ran for over 165 yards in 5 consecutive games: 172 at North Carolina, 166 vs. Virginia TEch, 295 at New Mexico State, 339 vs. NC State, and 263 at Maryland. Four of those games resulted in wins for BC, and by the end of that stretch, Williams had locked up the Doak Walker award for the nation's best running back and put himself on the Heisman radar. While a late injury limited his effectiveness at the end of the season and ended any hopes of unseating Jameis Winston as Heisman winner, Williams did collect the Doak Walker and got drafted by the New York Giants.
As a certified puckhead and driver of the Gaudreaubey Baker hypewagon, I'll remember Gaudreau's season for a long time, too - but I did ultimately vote for Williams in this category.
The Final Vote
Andre Williams (football) - 6
Johnny Gaudreau (men's hockey) - 2
Comments from the Panel
Grant Salzano: "This is so difficult. Gaudreau had one of the most incredible seasons in many, many years in all of college hockey. Andre Williams was the whole offense and got people all around the country talking about BC. So, so difficult. I'm trying to put aside my hockey bias, but man, it's going to be a very long time until you see a season like Gaudreau had again. I vote Gaudreau."
Dan Rubin: "This is really tough because BC was graced with two athletes who we might "never see ever again." What Johnny Gaudreau did on the ice was nothing short of miraculous, right down to nearly scoring at the end of the Union game with like 0.7 seconds left on the clock. But there are only two Heisman Trophy finalists in BC program history - Doug Flutie and Andre Williams. Matt Ryan was one in a million, but he wasn't a once in a lifetime achievement, but in the end, he wasn't one of the all-time legends. What Andre did this year, knowing that nine guys would be in the box on every play, puts him in that pantheon. I think BC would've been in the Frozen Four without Johnny Hockey. There's no way BC wins seven games in football without Andre.
[ED NOTE: No, new guy, BC probably would not have made the Frozen Four this year without Gaudreau. Although I suppose we'll never know.]
Individual Game Performance of the Year, later today
Schedule and Awardees:
Monday, July 21
-Best Female Athlete - McKenzie Meehan, Women's Soccer
Tuesday, July 22
-Best Male Athlete - Andre Williams, Football
-Best Individual Performance in a Game
Wednesday, July 23
-Coach of the Year
-Team of the Year
Thursday, July 24
-Best Moment of the Year
-Worst Moment of the Year
Friday, July 25
-Play of the Year
-BCI Post of the Year
Monday, July 28
-Biggest Story of the Year
-Most Disliked Opponent of the Year
Tuesday, July 29
-Game of the Year (football)
-Game of the Year (men's hockey)
Wednesday, July 30
-Game of the Year (men's basketball)
-Game of the Year (all other sports)