2012 Maxwell Award Watch List: Breaking Down SEC Contenders

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJuly 9, 2012

Arkansas RB Knile Davis
Arkansas RB Knile DavisStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Maxwell Football Club released its watch list for the Maxwell Award on Monday, which is given to America's outstanding collegiate football player.

Considering the SEC has won six straight national titles and has had the most players drafted in six straight NFL drafts, it should come as no shock that players from SEC schools litter the list.

The Maxwell Football Club apparently doesn't think that Arkansas will miss Bobby Petrino that much, because the Razorbacks lead the SEC with three players named to the list. Quarterback Tyler Wilson, running back Knile Davis and wide receiver Cobi Hamilton all were named. 

Wilson and Davis are both bona fide contenders for the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and virtually every other offensive award. The only problem they face is that they may split votes with each other, which could prevent either from taking home postseason hardware.

Alabama and Tennessee each placed two players on the watch list.

Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy and quarterback AJ McCarron are the representatives of the defending national champs. Lacy is getting a lot of preseason hype, but let's pump the brakes on anointing him being the next great Alabama running back until he proves it as the unquestioned every-down workhorse. 

McCarron, on the other hand, has a good shot of taking home the award. The offensive MVP of the BCS National Championship Game took control of the Crimson Tide offense late last season and was a critical piece of the puzzle in wins over Auburn and LSU to close out the 2011 campaign.

Quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers are the representatives from Tennessee.

Both of them are great players, but Rogers may not even be the best wide receiver on his team. Justin Hunter established himself as one of the top wide receivers in the country before tearing his knee up in Week 3 vs. Florida. In two-and-a-half games, he had 17 catches for 314 yards and two touchdowns. If there's anyone I'm watching this year for Tennessee, it's Hunter.

If you had to pick the favorite to take home the Maxwell Award from the SEC, go with South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. The rising junior has 2,015 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns in a season-and-a-half in Columbia. He's coming off a knee injury, so there is a concern there. But South Carolina is expecting to be a national title contender and Lattimore is expecting to be the workhorse. 

That's a recipe for award season success.

Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, Missouri quarterback James Franklin, Texas A&M running back Christine Michael and Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy were also named to the list. 

For the full Maxwell Award watch list, click here.