The 2014 Gaskamp Award
The venerable Gaskamp Award celebrates its 16th season and the world waits with bated breath to ponder the preseason candidates. It is not my place to say, but thought leaders have called the Gaskamp Award - "The most prestigious award in all of everything." That’s simply the opinion of the planet’s wisest and best - who am I to judge?
As you'll remember:
Russell Gaskamp was a highly recruited OL prospect from Oklahoma that came to Texas with great acclaim and then gathered dust like a Salt Lake City Planned Parenthood. In 1998 - then a fifth year senior - he was a struck by a meteorite doused in Gamma rays, won the starting center job, played extremely well, and helped Ricky win the Heisman. Thereafter the award goes annually to the senior that no one expects a damn thing from who has spent much of their career marginalized, ignored, downtrodden, or injured. They're often, though not always, goats or players that spark some degree of derision from the fanbase until their breakout year - thereafter they are remembered fondly, even wistfully: "I always knew he'd be a player!"
A smattering of past award winners include:
Get the idea?
Worth noting that Wide Receiver and Defensive Line are the two most frequent surprise positions.
Now, let’s examine the 2014 candidates for the most prestigious award in all of competitive athletics. This year’s field is diabolically compelling. The narratives write themselves. I believe this is most Gaskamp-ripe field in Texas football history. I do not write those words lightly!
Like Nate Jones and Brandon Healy before him, Harris capably fills the need of big-body possession wide receiver that the team sorely lacks. Is it that hard to imagine Harris grabbing 37 balls for 441 yards and 5 touchdowns with Kendall Sanders booted and the freshmen not ready for prime time? His road to Gaskamp is clear: Harris plays a frequent late bloomer contribution position, he cleans up his act in Fall Camp, wins the trust of the staff and gets out from under the Spring doghouse to earn his way into fond remembrance.
Yes, he started some games last year, but he receives the non-contributory special TE exclusion (Bruce Chambers by-law, enacted 2009). If Swaim blocks extremely well from his H-back and in-line blocker roles and nabs 20 catches (four for red zone touchdowns), he’ll be tough to deny.
Do not hold it against him that he didn’t choose swimming.
Like Swaim, Daniels receives the non-contributory special TE exclusion grant (Chambers citation above) despite starting a number of games and participating in others as a 3rd TE. If Daniels grabs the job and some red zone touchdowns to boot, he’s got Gaskamp written all over him.
A rally from sloth and JUCO decadence to the NFL makes a great story. If he can return from suspension and lock down a tackle spot and throw down ten games of exemplary play, he might earn a NFL selection in 2015 along with his Gaskamp. The Gaskamp will be far more valuable.
Almost the perfect candidate. Amazing physical talent in a constant state of injury and has been since high school. Can this Porsche spend one year out of the shop? If he can, he’s probably a starting nickel, if not cornerback. Do you know how much a badass third cornerback would help this defense? Gaskamp.
The one glaring weakness in the Longhorn kicking game is punter. Russ has spent four years booming every third punt into a West Side Alumni section Diet Sprite a net seven yards past the line of scrimmage. If he develops into a one year Ray Guy, don’t think I won’t award the Gaskamp to a kicker. Because I will. Don’t call my bluff. I’m a wild card.
The QB-WR-TE-WR-QB-WR-TE-QB filled in admirably as the #3 QB in the Spring game, but he most likely gets on the field as a reliable receiving option. Or perhaps injuries besiege the QB position and Texas has its own Paul Thompson lead the team to the Big 12 Title. It could happen. In fact, it’s probable! Even more important than the Big 12 title, the Gaskamp would belong to Onyegbule.
The highly rated linebacker recruit photographs awfully mean, but he hasn’t shown much between the sidelines. How does his Gaskamp come about? Injuries at LB or WDE create an opportunity and he rocks the back half of the schedule with 7 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. I gave it a shot.
Just perfect. So many amazing Gaskamp profiles, but Demarco checks every box. Coveted and overhyped, then discredited and relegated to the dust bin of fan memory. His path forward is simple: he rips the SLB job from Peter Jinkens in camp and unveils an awesome senior season to the tune of 92 tackles, 2 interceptions, 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. The ultimate Gaskamp narrative is fulfilled - hype hero to goat to on-field redemption - and he secures a prize more important than the Nobel, Fields Medal and Pulitzer combined.
Are Mykkele Thompson (frequently criticized) and Jordan Hicks (frequently injured) eligible? Tough calls. But I must rule no. I will hear counterarguments as both do fulfill major elements of Gaskampiness, but they’re also both clear bedrock starters who have played a number of games for the Horns. I just can’t allow it. I’m sorry. The field is already loaded, people.
Who wins the Gaskamp in 2014? Or will the award....BE SHARED? Whhhhhaaaat? The plot thickens. Choose now. Choose wisely. The most coveted prize celebrating the human condition can not be awarded lightly. And if you think you’re certain, if you’re convinced you've identified your man, think again. For it is the nature of Gaskamp to award the unexpected and unanticipated.
2014 Longhorn Football Prospectus: Thinking Texas Football
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