PROVO — BYU tight end Dennis Pitta will find out tonight if he is the recipient of the 2009 John Mackey Award.

The senior from Moorpark, Calif., is one of three finalists for the award, which is given annually to the nation's top tight end. The winner will be announced during The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards show, which begins at 5 p.m., and will be televised live by ESPN.

Pitta is one of three finalists for the award, along with Pittsburgh senior Dorin Dickerson and Florida junior Aaron Hernandez.

The awards show will be held in Orlando, Fla., but Mackey Award finalists were not invited to participate.

The John Mackey Award was established in 2001. "In addition to demonstrating outstanding athletic prowess on the field, the award also stands for positive sportsmanship-like behavior, good academic standing and exceptional leadership abilities," according to the award's Web site.

"It's definitely an honor to be recognized in that way, to be on the national scene at your position," Pitta said of being a finalist for the award. "But one thing I do understand is this isn't an individual game and I didn't earn it by myself. It's a team sport and I wouldn't be where I'm at if it weren't for (quarterback) Max (Hall) and everyone else in our offense that has allowed me to contribute in the way that I have."

Past Mackey Award winners include Missouri's Chase Coffman (2008), USC's Fred Davis (2007), Minnesota's Matt Spaeth (2006), UCLA's Marcedes Lewis (2005), Virginia's Heath Miller (2004) and Miami's Kellen Winslow II (2003).

Pitta is No. 1 in the nation among tight ends in receiving yards (784), total catches (57), yards per catch (13.8) and yards per game (65.3). He is second in touchdowns (7).

During BYU's 26-23 overtime victory over Utah, Pitta surpassed Austin Collie as the Cougars' all-time leader in receptions. Collie had 215 catches and Pitta now has 216.

BAUMAN HONORED: Senior linebacker Matt Bauman was one of 16 players honored Tuesday by the National Football Foundation at its annual awards dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Bauman received an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship from the NFF. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow received the Campbell Trophy as the nation's top scholar-athlete.

"I'm grateful for the Foundation having an award that recognizes the demands both in the classroom and on the field," Bauman said from New York City. "It's definitely an honor to be here. It's an honor to represent a university that I love and I appreciate all they've done for me at BYU."

BOWL TICKETS ON SALE: Las Vegas Bowl tickets are now available to season ticket holders and the general public. BYU faces Oregon State on Dec. 22 at 6 p.m.

Tickets in the BYU allotment are $65, which includes all fees. BYU students can request up to two bowl tickets by filling out an application at the Marriott Center ticket office.

Maaco Bowl Las Vegas

BYU (10-2) vs. Oregon St. (8-4)

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Dec. 22, 6 p.m., Sam Boyd Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: 102.7 FM, 1160 AM

e-mail: jeffc@desnews.com