BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Southeastern Conference on Wednesday announced its 2014 football individual awards. The honors were voted on by the league's 14 head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players.
Alabama's Amari Cooper was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Missouri's Shane Ray was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Missouri's Marcus Murphy was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year, Georgia's Nick Chubb was named the SEC Freshman of the Year, Georgia's Chris Conley was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Missouri's Gary Pinkel was named the SEC Coach of the Year. LSU's La'el Collins earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
Cooper, who on Monday was announced as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, has caught a school and SEC-record 115 passes for 1,656 yards with 14 touchdowns, while leading the Crimson Tide to the 2014 SEC Championship and the top seed in the College Football Playoff. Cooper leads the nation this season in receiving yards, while ranking second nationally in receiving yards per game (127.4) and touchdown receptions (14).
Ray, in his first year as a starter for the Tigers, set a school record with 14.0 quarterback sacks and also totaled 21.0 tackles for loss, while ranking fifth on the team with his 61 tackles on the year. He leads the SEC and ranks third nationally in sacks, while also ranking second in the SEC and sixth nationally in tackles for loss.
Murphy is one of the nation's most versatile players and was a first-team All-SEC selection by the coaches both as an all-purpose player and a return specialist. He ranks second in the SEC in all-purpose average (131.9 yards) and is the only player in the nation this season to score touchdowns in all four all-purpose categories - rushing, receiving, kickoff return and punt return.
Chubb was the SEC's top freshman running back this season, ranking among the nation's top-25 in rushing yards with 1,281, including 12 touchdowns. He became the 12th player in Georgia history to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a single season and currently is No. 10 on the school's all-time list. Chubb also has 18 catches for 213 yards and a pair of scores. He ranks second in the SEC in rushing yards per game (106.8).
Conley, a senior wide receiver, holds a 3.32 cumulative grade point average and is on track to receive his bachelor's degree in journalism this month. He has been a member of the SEC Academic Honor Rolls each of his seasons at Georgia and has posted a 3.0 or better GPA in each of his academic terms at UGA, including two terms on the Dean's List. Conley is a member of the 2014 Capital One Academic All-District Team and was a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation's William V. Campbell Trophy and the Wooden Citizenship Cup. He is a member of the American Football Coaches Association's Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and also has been named to the SEC Community Service Team.
Collins becomes the first LSU player to claim the Jacobs Blocking Trophy since Ciron Black garnered the honor in 2009. As an anchor on the LSU offensive line, Collins helped the Tigers rank fifth in the SEC in rushing offense, averaging 219.5 rushing yards per game overall and 199.0 rushing yards per game in conference play. Collins led all LSU linemen in offensive snaps played at 792 and knockdown blocks with 84.5 this season.
Pinkel directed the Tigers to their second consecutive SEC Eastern Division Championship and their second trip in a row to the SEC Championship Game. His Missouri team posted a 7-1 conference record, earning its fifth divisional conference title since 2007, which is tied for the most in the nation during that stretch with Alabama and Florida State. The Tigers have earned a trip to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, which will mark the ninth bowl appearance in the last 10 years for Mizzou.
2014 SEC FOOTBALL AWARDS
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Amari Cooper, Alabama
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Shane Ray, Missouri
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Marcus Murphy, Missouri
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Nick Chubb, Georgia
SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Chris Conley, Georgia
JACOBS BLOCKING TROPHY
La'el Collins, LSU
COACH OF THE YEAR
Gary Pinkel, Missouri