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No award, but UF's Nelson happy

The whirlwind week ended without a trophy, but not without a lifetime of memories for Florida cornerback Reggie Nelson.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior from Melbourne began the week as a finalist for two top honors, the Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski awards.

On Thursday night, the Thorpe went to Texas senior Aaron Ross, but as he walked the red carpet at the Walt Disney World Resort, Nelson said he was thrilled just to be considered among the nation's best.

"It really didn't matter, I lost to a great player," he said. "He wouldn't be here tonight if he wasn't a great player. You can't take nothing away from him. It was just an honor to be among them."

Nelson, who had six interceptions during the regular season, was named to the Walter Camp defensive All-America team.

Nelson's week started in Charlotte, N.C., at the Nagurski ceremony, he returned to Gainesville to take a final exam in Urban Sociology then headed for Orlando, where today he taped the Football Writers Association All-America show.

"It's been real, real tiring, but I'm just making the best of it," Nelson said. "This is a once in a lifetime chance, so I'm just taking advantage of it. I'm just enjoying life right now."

Arkansas' Darren McFadden became the first from the SEC since Georgia's Garrison Hearst in 1992 to win the Doak Walker Award for best running back.

"I was very nervous getting up there," the sophomore said. "This is considered to be the greatest running back in America, so this is a great honor to me."

Ohio State senior Troy Smith won the Davey O'Brien national quarterback award, though Notre Dame's Brady Quinn beat him out for the Maxwell Award as the best all-around player.

"I'm extremely overwhelmed," Smith said. "I can remember Vince Young winning the award and it meant so much to me then (last year). It means even more to me now."

Antonya English can be reached at

Home Depot award winners

Biletnikoff (wide receiver): Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Butkus (linebacker): Patrick Willis, Mississippi

Davey O'Brien national quarterback: Troy Smith, Ohio State

Doak Walker (running back): Darren McFadden, Arkansas

Jim Thorpe (defensive back): Aaron Ross, Texas

Lou Groza (kicker): Arthur Carmody, Louisville

Maxwell (best all-around player): Brady Quinn, Notre Dame

Maxwell Football Club defensive player of the year (Chuck Bednarik Trophy): Paul Posluszny, Penn State

Outland Trophy (interior lineman): Joe Thomas, Wisconsin

Ray Guy (punter): Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor

Times staff writer Antonya English voted only on the Doak Walker Award. Here is how she voted: 1. Darren McFadden; 2. Mike Hart, Michigan; 3. Steve Slaton, West Virginia.

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