Fred Biletnikoff Award

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Fred Biletnikoff Award
Awarded for America's top college football receiver
Country United States
Presented by The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc.
First awarded 1994
Currently held by Amari Cooper, Alabama
Official website

The Biletnikoff Award is presented annually to the nation’s outstanding college football receiver (the award defines receiver as any player who catches a pass) by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc. (TQCF), the creator and sponsor of the award. Consequently, tight ends, slot backs and receivers, inside receivers, running backs, and wide receivers are eligible. In 2013 Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, was the most recent tight end selected as a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist. The Biletnikoff Award is a season, not career, award. The TQC Foundation is an independent, charitable organization that was founded in 1994. Past Chairman and Founding Trustee Professor Walter W. Manley, II, Founding Trustee L. Thomas Cox, Jr., Founding Trustee Rocky Bevis, and Founding Trustee Bob Teel established the award and the TQC Foundation that sponsors it. Many more trustees have contributed to its development as one of the most prominent awards in college football. The idea of a college receiver’s award was not a novel one, as a number of organizations throughout America considered establishing it; however, the TQC Foundation joined the idea to the organization’s vision and created an outstanding award and dynamic organization. The trophy, presented to each winner, is the most beautiful individual award in college football – it has won several national awards for design excellence and aesthetic appeal.[1]

The name Biletnikoff is synonymous with the term receiver. Fred Biletnikoff, a member of the pro and college football halls of fame, was an All-America receiver at Florida State University and an All-Pro receiver for the Oakland Raiders. He caught 589 passes for 8,974 yards and 76 touchdowns in his 14-year Raiders career from 1965 through 1978. Fred was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XI. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation (TQC), Inc., created the Biletnikoff Award in 1994.[2]

Biletnikoff Trophy [3][edit]

The Biletnikoff Award Trophy consists of a figure that is 18 inches high with an antique gold finish. The figure rests on a four-and-a-half-inch thick bronze metallic polished marble base that is twelve inches in diameter. The trophy weighs 56 pounds and is the largest and most beautiful of all the college football-position awards. A creative team of designers, metallurgists, and a world-renowned sculptor, closely supervised by the Foundation, created the magnificent trophy. The Biletnikoff Award Trophy is displayed in the University Center Club, Doak Campbell Stadium, at Tallahassee, Florida, and at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia. The trophy has won several national awards for design excellence, including the best trophy award at the Awards and Recognition Association’s International Award Market in 1998.

The Forward Pass and Fred Biletnikoff [4][edit]

The pastime of kicking around a ball pre-dates recorded history. Ancient savage tribes played a form of primitive football. About 2500 years ago, Corinthians, Spartans, and Athenians enjoyed a ball-kicking game which the Greeks named episkuros. The Romans competed in a similar game termed harpastum, which they transported west when they invaded the British Isles in the First Century, B.C.

The game known in the United States as football derives its existence from the English game of rugby.

Football was played informally on college lawns in the middle decades of the 19th Century and an annual freshman-sophomore series of “scrimmages” began at Yale in 1840. It was not until November, 1869, however, that the first formal intercollegiate football game was played – at New Brunswick, N.J., the Rutgers side defeated Princeton 6 goals to 4. The first professional game was played in 1895 at Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The National Football League was founded in 1921 and merged in 1949 with the All-American Conference and in 1970 with the American Football League.

In the early days of college football, games were played with 25, 20, 15, or 11 men on a side. That varying number of players was standardized to 11 through the efforts of Yales’s Walter Camp at the 1880 football convention. A year earlier, the same Camp was involved in the first recorded forward pass in college football. During the Yale-Princeton game, as he was being tackled, Camp threw a football forward to the Elis’ Oliver Thompson who sprinted to a touchdown. The Tigers of Princeton protested; by tossing a coin, the referee made his decision to allow the touchdown.

It was John Heisman who convinced the Football Rules Committee to legalize the forward pass. For thirty-six years, Heisman coached at a number of schools including Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Pennsylvania, Washington and Jefferson, and Rice. He, Alonzo Stagg, and Pop Warner, three of the greatest coaches from the turn of the century through the 1920s, constituted the “football Trinity”.

Heisman first witnessed a forward pass in 1895 when he scouted a game between North Carolina and Georgia. In order to avoid a blocked punt by onrushing linemen, the Tar Heel punter passed the ball downfield to a teammate who caught it and ran 70 yards for the only touchdown of the game. In response to the Bulldogs’ howls of protest, the referee admitted, “I didn’t see the ball thrown,” thereby allowing an illegal play.

Heisman envisaged the forward pass as the salvation of a sport which had degenerated into dangerous formations and tactics such as the flying wedge and mass plays. After unsuccessfully attempting for 3 years to convince Rules Chairman Walter Camp to legalize the forward pass, Heisman enlisted the valuable support of committee members John Bell and Paul Dashiell instead. Finally, in 1906, the Rules Committee, college football’s governing body, legalized the forward pass. The allowance of the forward pass became the most important development in football since Camp’s introduction of scrimmage, the system of downs, and the modern scoring system. The turning away from the unimaginative and brutal mass attack and, instead, toward the open, fast-striking offense with the pass as a weapon appealed to players and spectators alike.

Nonetheless, for the next seven years the pass was rarely used. Then, in 1913, Notre Dame, through the athletic prowess of Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne, employed the forward pass with substantial success against the United States Military Academy team. After that game, the forward pass occupied a prominent position in offensive strategy. Heisman, Camp, and Rockne would all later be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The throw…the catch…the legal reception. Without a receiver there cannot be a successful pass play. A partial listing of great receivers could very well include Don Hutson, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsh (the late Biletnikoff Award voter), Tom Fears, Dante Lavelli, Raymond Berry, Tommy McDonald, Bobby Mitchell, Lenny Moore, Don Maynard, Paul Warfield, Lionel Taylor, Lance Alworth, Charley Taylor, Johnny Rodgers, Stanley Morgan, Wes Chandler, Lynn Swann, Steve Largent, James Lofton, Art Monk, Irving Fryer, Bob Hayes, Tim Brown, Charley Joiner, Jerry Rice, as well as Biletnikoff Award winners Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson.

Several of the receivers as college players, including Hirsch, McDonald, Mitchell, Moore, Allworth, Taylor, and Rodgers, as well as Nat Moore, were often set in formation as halfbacks or wingbacks – not split from scrimmage.

What of tight-ends who were great receivers? Again, a partial listing could include Mike Ditka, John Mackey, Raymond Chester, David Casper, Kellen Winslow, Sr., Tod Christensen, Jackie Smith, Shannon Sharpe, Tony Gonzalez, and Ozzie Newsome.

All of these receivers had different styles and statures. Some were sprinters, some had remarkable “hands”, some ran patterns as precise as an ice skater’s compulsory figures. What they had in common was the self-discipline, leadership by example, and a commitment to athletic excellence.

Fred Biletnikoff was the consummate receiver – College and Professional Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff. It is small wonder that former Raider coach John Madden emphatically remarked: “Fred tops my list of all-time great receivers.”

Fred, a Florida State University All-America receiver, responded enthusiastically to the creation of the award bearing his name by the Foundation, “I am honored to have such a prestigious award bear my name.” He continued, “I am privileged that my past achievements on the field now are represented by an award that will recognize talented young college football receivers and benefit youth services and scholarships.”

Biletnikoff, who played high school football at Tech Memorial in Erie, Pennsylvania, wore number 25 on his jersey during his playing days with the Oakland Raiders. He played for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League after his Raider playing career. At Tech Memorial, Fred earned letters in baseball and basketball (All-City honors) and was a champion high jumper in track and field.

Professor Walter W. Manley, II

Eligibility and Voting Criteria [5][edit]

Voting Procedures:

Voters will receive an email the day each voting period opens. In that email will be a link to the voting website. Voters must have on their white list to accept emails. The email will detail how long (The voting period at each of the three votes includes many days as a convenience to the busy schedules of our voters) voters will have to make their selection via the online voting system.

Write-in votes:

Any voter may write in any receiver not listed on the Foundation ballot through the vote for the three finalists. There is a designated space on the ballot for writing in candidates.

Candidate Eligibility & Voting Criteria:

The candidate for the Biletnikoff Award defined:

Every Biletnikoff Award candidate must be an active collegiate football receiver (any player who receives a forward pass regardless of position) at an NCAA Division 1 (FBS) institution. For instance, players at positions of tight end, wide receiver, slot back, running back, and any other position in which a player may catch a legal forward pass are eligible to be selected.

Every candidate, to remain a candidate, must not be currently declared ineligible to participate in Division l (FBS) football by the NCAA at the time of any vote of the Biletnikoff Award National Selection Committee.

Every candidate, to remain a candidate, must not be currently ineligible to participate in Division l (FBS) football by decision of the candidate’s institution or team at the time of any vote of the Biletnikoff Award National Selection Committee.

An ineligible player cannot be placed on the watch list and cannot remain on the watch list during that ineligibility; he can be added to or reestablished to the watch list based on proper conduct and on-field performance when his eligibility is restored at the discretion of the Foundation.

Every candidate must display leadership and self-discipline; and he must have a significant, positive impact on his team’s success. Misconduct is a negative indicator of leadership, self-discipline, and positive team influence.

Every candidate must display a commitment to maximize his on-field performance.

In addition, other relevant factors and procedures (such as the ones identified below) may be considered by voters during the selection process.

A voter may consider the quality of the candidate’s opposing teams and the candidate’s team’s strength of schedule, as well as the candidate’s team’s strength of season record during the season he’s a candidate.

A voter may consider the candidate’s statistical performance for the season he is a candidate. The Bilenikoff Award is not a career award. Rather, the Biletnikoff Award is a season award, recognizing the outstanding receiver, regardless of position, in college football for that particular season.

Watch List Additions:

The Foundation, when appropriate, will add receivers to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List (based upon performance and criteria as stated in the Eligibility and Criteria section above) without prejudice up to the commencement of voting by the Biletnikoff Award National Selection Committee.

Player Privacy:

The Foundation refrains from publicly discussing the inclusion or omission of individual candidates on the watch list as a measure of respect to the candidate’s privacy.

Composition of the Distinguished National Selection Committee:

The Biletnikoff Award National Selection Committee consists of over 290 esteemed sports writers, analysts, and commentators who cover college football on a national, regional, or conference level, past award winners of the Biletnikoff Award, and distinguished receivers, players, and coaches of the past. Foundation Trustees do not vote and have never voted.

Secret and Secure Ballot and Voting Integrity:

The Foundation does not reveal the vote of any individual selection committee member; however, any selection committee member may reveal his or her own vote. All votes will be submitted electronically via a secure online ballot voting system supervised by a prominent CPA firm.

The Foundation does not publicly comment on specific voting results regarding any receiver beyond reporting the identity of the semi-finalists, the finalists, and the winner.

Trustees do not vote. The Foundation has immense respect for the wisdom of the voters of the National Selection Committee, considered one of the best in college sports. The Foundation provides a highly detailed ballot through which the will of the voters can be fully expressed.


The FanVote posted on the website (equivalent to a vote of one national selection committee member) will count as one additional vote during each voting period for the semifinalists, finalists, and winner.


Year Winner School
1994 Bobby Engram Penn State
1995 Terry Glenn Ohio State
1996 Marcus Harris Wyoming
1997 Randy Moss Marshall
1998 Troy Edwards Louisiana Tech
1999 Troy Walters Stanford
2000 Antonio Bryant Pittsburgh
2001 Josh Reed LSU
2002 Charles Rogers Michigan State
2003 Larry Fitzgerald Pittsburgh
2004 Braylon Edwards Michigan
2005 Mike Hass Oregon State
2006 Calvin Johnson Georgia Tech
2007 Michael Crabtree Texas Tech
2008 Michael Crabtree Texas Tech
2009 Golden Tate Notre Dame
2010 Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State
2011 Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State
2012 Marqise Lee USC
2013 Brandin Cooks Oregon State
2014 Amari Cooper Alabama


The Biletnikoff Award winner receives his trophy before 600 patrons at the annual Biletnikoff Award Banquet at the University Center Club at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. The 2016 banquet will be held on Saturday, January 30, 2016.[6] The banquet was hailed by 2014 keynote speaker Dick Vermeil, as well as by 2013 keynoter Larry Csonka, as “the best banquet in college sports.”

The banquet has featured distinguished keynoters of profound character and accomplishments including Bart Starr, Dick Vermeil, Larry Csonka, Steve Largent, Mike Ditka, Don Shula, Dan Reeves, Archie Manning, Ron Jaworski, Gene Stallings, Bill Curry, Jim Kelly, Jerry Kramer, Joe Theismann, and Dan Fouts.

The banquet also recognizes the Foundation’s scholarship recipients who are annually provided by the Foundation well over $900,000 in college and vocational scholarships and benefits. The Foundation’s charitable mission is the provision of college and vocational scholarships to North Florida high school seniors who have overcome significant barriers to achieve at the highest academic and extra-curricular levels.[7]

Scholarships [8][edit]

Determination, Focus, Perseverance, Courage, Self-discipline, and Leadership

The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc., the creator and sponsor of the Biletnikoff Award, celebrates these foregoing qualities on the football field through the Biletnikoff Award, which recognizes college football’s outstanding receiver, regardless of position. The Foundation also recognizes and rewards these same qualities in our community by providing financial assistance through scholarships to deserving Leon County’s and nine area counties’ graduating high school achievers. This scholarship program recognizes the students’ excellence in academic and extra-curricular activities. Foundation scholars have succeeded in spite of significant physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and other challenges faced during their young-adult lives. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation evaluates their academic achievements, character, involvement in school and community activities, as well as the “nature of the challenges they have overcome.”

Beginning in 1999, the largest scholarship awarded was named the Tracey Biletnikoff Scholarship, in honor of Fred and Angela Biletnikoff’s deceased daughter. The Foundation has established another significant scholarship, The Foundation Trustees’ Scholarship, which carries the commendation of all the past and current leaders of the Foundation. Finally, the Foundation has established a third scholarship in memory of Brooks Rogers, son of Honorary Trustee Sam Rogers, Jr., and his wife Laura.

Applications are accepted from High School seniors residing in Florida’s Leon, Madison, Jefferson, Wakulla, Gadsden, Liberty, Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin, and Jackson counties.


  1. ^ "About the Biletnikoff Award «  Biletnikoff Award". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  2. ^ "The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc., Announces the 2015 Biletnikoff Award Watch List «  Biletnikoff Award". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  3. ^ "About the Biletnikoff Trophy & Ring «  Biletnikoff Award". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  4. ^ "History of the Forward Pass «  Biletnikoff Award". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  5. ^ "Candidate Eligibility & Voting Criteria «  Biletnikoff Award". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  6. ^ "Date & Location «  Biletnikoff Award". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  7. ^ "The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, Inc., Announces the 2015 Biletnikoff Award Watch List «  Biletnikoff Award". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  8. ^ "About the Scholarships «  Biletnikoff Award". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 

External links[edit]