Kyle Pitts and the Mackey Award snub: A statistical look.

There seems to be little disagreement that Florida tight end Kyle Pitts should have been among the 8 finalists for the 2019 John Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate tight end. Statistically, Pitts clearly belonged in this group. Pitts’ stats are excellent and compare well with any of the top tight ends in the country. Here is a look at how Pitts’ key statistics would stack up to the actual finalists:


Upon standardizing each of the three key categories under consideration (receptions, yards, and touchdowns) and totaling the standardized score, Pitts ranked 6th out of the (now) 9 players. This supports the popular notion that Pitts was snubbed. However, to look at how Pitts alone was snubbed wasn’t enough. I wanted to see how all of the tight ends would stack up to see if the committee got much right at all, or snubbed other players like they did Pitts.

Stats projected for 12 games

Using the top 50 tight ends according to

I set out to project how each player’s statistics would look over 12 games. This helps control for players that have played in fewer games. I removed players with fewer than 8 games and was left with a set of 48 players. Here is the 8 finalists and Pitts’ projected 12 game stats:


The Top 50*

Actually, the top 48. Anyways, what I found was interesting to me. Taking the top 8 of this list would produce a significantly different list than the one the committee came up with. As previously noted, I standardized each of the scores around a mean of zero (producing a z-score). This puts each of the 3 statistical categories in scale with each other. I then added these 3 z-scores to get an aggregate z-score (TOTz). The graph below shows how the top 48 would stack up:


The top 8 in this analysis still include Pitts (at #8). However, it appears as if Cole Kmet (Notre Dame) and Kylen Granson (SMU) have also been snubbed. In summary, going by receiving statistics alone, the top 8 Mackey Award finalists should be:


I’m sure the committee is looking at more than just receiving stats, but I honestly have no idea what their criteria are. It doesn’t appear to be level of competition, as Giovanni Ricci of Western Michigan is on the list. However they are deciding it, receiving statistics should be a significant consideration. All in all, however, I don’t see how they justify leaving Pitts off the list.

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