Earlier today, the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award and Chuck Bednarik Award were announced by the Maxwell Football Club, which gives out both awards. Included in the nominees were USF running back Marlon Mack for the Maxwell Award, and cornerback Deatrick Nichols for the Bednarik.
For Nichols, this is the first big national recognition for one of USF's most underappreciated players. In his first year as a starter last season, Nichols recorded 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and a sack. He intercepted four passes, running one back for a touchdown, broke up five passes, and forced two fumbles. Nichols was named to the all-American Athletic Conference first team.
Everyone knows Marlon Mack's story by now. The rising junior set the school's single-season rushing record in 2015, piling up 1381 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games. Mack was first team all-American Athletic Conference for the second year in a row. He starts 2016 only 309 yards behind Andre Hall's USF career rushing record, a mark he should top with ease as long as he stays healthy. With Mack’s talent and running backs being very aware of not putting a lot of miles on their odometer before they go pro, there’s a strong possibility that 2016 will be Mack’s last season at USF.
We know preseason watch lists tend to be so long that they become pointless. (Do we really need a Rimington Trophy watch list with 57 centers on it? I think not.) These two, however, are a bit more noteworthy. Having players on what are essentially offensive and defensive player of the year lists is a neat accomplishment.
That being said... there really wasn’t room on these lists for Quinton Flowers or Auggie Sanchez? Come on, man.
The Maxwell Award goes to the college football player of the year and has been awarded since 1937. The Bednarik Award goes to the college defensive player of the year and has been given out since 1995.