The "watch lists" for the awards are coming down the chute, and today we got one of the big ones; the Maxwell Award has put out their watch list.
The award, in essence, is "given to America's outstanding collegiate football player since 1937, and is named in honor of sportswriter Robert W. 'Tiny' Maxwell."
There are a lot of big names on the list, including plenty of running backs. In fact, the ball-toting men in the backfield make up 30 of the 64 watch-list members, or 47 percent. Unfortunately, that does not mean much in the way of predicting one of them to take home the hardware.
While Montee Ball could have the inside track given his absolute touchdown-churning role in Wisconsin's offense, the fact is, quarterbacks win the Maxwell Award more often than not.
That means Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, Tajh Boyd and Logan Thomas are the guys to watch.
As everyone's favorite to win the Heisman, Barkley is going to have to have a stellar season to take home the stiff-arming trophy and the Maxwell. Only Cam Newton and Tim Tebow have carried home both trophies in recent history, and for Barkley, a pro-styled quarterback, a Maxwell win might mean that he's the Andrew Luck of the Heisman ceremony.
That said, the Maxwell is a heck of a consolation prize. If the Trojans can stay undefeated and fight for a BCS title berth, Barkley has a shot to take home the award.
Landry Jones, the Oklahoma Sooners slinger, had a disappointing November in 2011. This year, without Ryan Broyles, the senior has his work cut out for him, but he's a name that folks know pretty well.
The Sooners are in everyone's Top 10 and with Mike Stoops back in Norman, the defense should be much improved. That's a plus for Jones, as he will be in fewer shootouts and more blowouts, looking to run up big numbers throwing to Kenny Stills and setting the pace for the Big 12 as folks expected of him a year ago.
Despite the brutal beatdown in the Orange Bowl, Clemson had a great 2011 season. Outside of the Virginia Tech, NC State, Georgia Tech and West Virginia games, things just came easy for the Tigers. Now, with three of those teams on the schedule again, all in Pickens County, Boyd and his array of weapons are looking to right three of those four losses from 2011.
While Sammy Watkins will get a lot of the headlines, we all know the quarterback gets all the credit, and Boyd is in a system that should draw plenty of praise from the pundits as he piles up yards.
Logan Thomas, the Hokies quarterback, is a bit of a wild card here because the nation does not know a ton about the young quarterback. However, the NFL is already in love with his skill set, which we got to see plenty of in 2011. If the Hokies can navigate their 2012 schedule, then Logan Thomas will be in the Maxwell conversation.
Unlike the other quarterbacks listed here, Thomas has a true dual-threat ability, and as Cam Newton and Tim Tebow showed in the last five years, if you can be an awesome dual threat, then you can take home the Maxwell and the Heisman.