The Daily's preseason watch list: Maxwell Award, Bednarik Award
The Daily's Maxwell Award watch list
Matt Barkley (QB, Southern Cal)
Denard Robinson (QB, Michigan)
Marcus Lattimore (RB, South Carolina)
The Daily's Bednarik Award watch list
Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia)
Tyrann Mathieu (CB, LSU)
Tony Jefferson (S, Oklahoma)
2012 watch lists
The Daily's picks for which players will appear on the following college football preseason watch lists:
• Maxwell Award
• Bednarik Award
• Mackey Award
• Rimington Trophy
• Lou Groza Award
• Ray Guy Award
• Bronko Nagurski Trophy
• Outland Trophy
• Jim Thorpe Award
• Butkus Award
• Rotary Lombardi Award
• Biletnikoff Award
• Davey O'Brien Award
• Doak Walker Award
• Walter Camp Award
Mackey Award (nation's most-outstanding tight end) and Rimington Trophy (nation's premier center)
Starting July 9, the National College Football Awards Association will start releasing preseason watch lists for its various awards, releasing one or two a day for 10 days.
We here at The Daily are going to release our own watch lists over the next eight days, then compare our picks to the association's.
Today, we will are revealing our picks for the Maxwell Award, for the best player in college football, and the Bednarik Award, awarded to the defensive player of the year.
Tobi Neidy, senior football writer: Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal
USC starting quarterback Matt Barkley had better stats than 2012 No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck (Stanford), finishing with 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a 69.1 pass-completion percentage last season and has only gotten exponentially better during his time at USC after finishing his freshman season with 15-14 TD-INT ratio. Barkley could have been a top-five pick this year, according to NFL scouting reports, but instead, this senior QB turned down the money to bring the Trojans back to the national stage, which also makes him the top offensive prospect following the graduation of Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III.
Dillon Phillips, assistant sports editor: Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Denard Robinson has been one of the most electrifying players in college football over the past three seasons. He enters his senior year at Michigan as both a national title contender and a Heisman front-runner. Robinson quickly became a marquee name during his freshman season, when he split time with Tate Forcier in former coach Rich Rodriguez’s vaunted spread option offense. Undersized (he’s listed at 6-foot-1, 193-pounds) and unorthodox (the dreadlocked QB earned the nickname “Shoelace” for playing with his cleats untied), Robinson smoothly transitioned to Brady Hoke’s pro-style offense last year, and his productivity should only improve this season with a year of experience under his belt.
Kedric Kitchens, sports editor: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Marcus Lattimore was one of the most exciting and dynamic players in the country as a true freshman in 2010. As the No. 1 running back recruit in the nation, he turned down offers from several top programs — including the last two national champions, Auburn and Alabama — and stayed near home at South Carolina. Lattimore threw the Gamecocks on his back and took them to a 9-5 season and an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The running back looked like he was on his way to another great season last year before injuring his knee against Mississippi State. He still had 818 yards in seven — really six 1/2 — games. The Gamecocks are on the rise in the SEC, and if Lattimore can bounce back well, he could be a dominant force in the country's most dominant conference.
Neidy: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Frankly, the 2011 season put Georgia’s top linebacker, Jarvis Jones, on the national map. The 2011 consensus All-American and All-SEC first-team member recorded 70 total tackles, 13.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and 49 quarterback hurries after sitting out a year following his transfer from USC. Those stats weren’t just some of the best from the Bulldog program; those numbers also were enough to rank Jones fifth nationally in sacks per game (.96) and tied for 16th nationally in tackles for loss (1.39 per game). With that type of sophomore season, look for Jones to be on several defensive award watch lists going into the 2012 season.
Phillips: Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU
Last season, Tyrann Mathieu finished fifth in the Heisman voting, won the Chuck Bednarik and SEC Defensive Player of Year awards and garnered first-team All-American and All-SEC honors in one the greatest seasons by a defensive player in recent memory. And he was still the second-best cornerback on his team. Yes, LSU was that good last season. While Jim Thorpe Award-winner and sixth pick of the 2012 NFL Draft Morris Claibrone is arguably the better cornerback, Mathieu is the more dynamic player. Few players provided a bigger spark to their team than the "Honey Badger” last season. Known for rocking tinfoil suits and a blond Mohawk, Mathieu possesses the rare ability to break a game open either as a defensive player or a punt returner, and he has swag out the wazoo to boot.
Kitchens: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
Tony Jefferson has been the breakout star of the Sooner defense since stepping on campus two years ago. Last year — despite playing the unfamiliar linebacker position — he recorded 74 tackles and pulled down four interceptions. This year, Mike Stoops has returned as the defensive coordinator in Norman, and one of his first orders of business was to move Jefferson back to his natural position at safety. Stoops makes the strong safety position a focal point of his defenses, harnessing the natural abilities of former Sooners like Roy Williams. Jefferson has the ability to be a ball hawk in the secondary while being a major pass-rushing threat. This Cali kid should be a terror for Big 12 quarterbacks in 2012.