Jalin Hyatt wins the Biletnikoff Award for college football’s best passer

Jalin Hyatt was so good this season that even post-season college football awards round politics couldn’t stop him. Tennessee’s breakout star wide receiver was named the Biletnikoff Award winner during Thursday night’s Home Depot College Football Awards show on ESPN, confirming his status as the nation’s top pass catcher. Hyatt led the SEC in the three major receiving categories (receptions, yards, and touchdowns), totaled more receiving yards than any other Power 5 wideout, and shared the FBS lead in touchdown catches.

The 6-foot, 185-pound junior from Irmo, SC ousted Ohio State Marvin Harrison Jr. and Iowa State Xavier Hutchinson to become Tennessee’s first Biletnikoff winner—Hyatt was the first Vols finalist for the award in program history.

He finished a breakout season with 67 catches for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns to lead the way to a 10-2 season and one on sixth-ranked Tennessee’s explosive offense, which led the FBS in yards per game, yards per play and scoring place in the orange peel.

Hyatt is 31 yards from the show, which has a yardage record (1,298). Robert Meachem and needed just eight games to break Tennessee’s single-season touchdown record. It had stayed that way since Marcus Nash clinched 13 points in 1997, but Hyatt folded and broke with a two-touchdown performance against Kentucky in late October. His 67 receptions are the most by a Tennessee receiver since Justin Hunter (73) in 2012.

(Photo: Jamar Coach, Knoxville News Sentinel)

This week, Hyatt was unanimously voted to the First-Team All-SEC by the Associated Press, and the league coaches voted him to the First-Team All-SEC as well, making him the first Tennessee receiver since Meachem in 2006 to receive such high recognition received.

The masterpiece of Hyatt’s big season was Alabama’s 52-49 win over Tennessee in October with six catches, 207 yards and five touchdowns. He scored touchdowns for 36, 11, 60, 78, and 13 yards in a dazzling display of speed and big-play skill. It set the singles game Tennessee and equaled the SEC record, a feat last accomplished in 2019 by Alabama’s DeVonta Smith — he later won the Heisman Trophy.

Hyatt had four other 100-yard receiving games against Akron (166), UT Martin (174), Kentucky (138), and Missouri (174) and four other games (Akron, LSU, UT Martin, and Kentucky) with two touchdown catches. He had 11 touchdowns alone in a four-game stretch in October. His high for catches of the season came in the second week of the season in Pittsburgh when he caught 11 passes for 73 yards.

Even in Tennessee’s two losses, he was far from bad — six catches for 63 yards against Georgia and six catches for 65 yards against South Carolina.

Hyatt led the SEC in catches over 20 yards (20) and led all of college football in catches over 30 yards (15), over 40 yards (11), over 50 yards (seven), and over 60 yards (five) – There was no better big-play receiver in the country, and he was nationally top-15 in yards per catch (18.91) compared to Harrison (just inside the top 70 at 16.07) and Hutchinson (outside of the top 100 at 10.94).

In four games against season-ending teams, Hyatt totaled 22 catches for 398 yards (18.09 per catch, 99.5 per game) and seven touchdowns.

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