The Maxwell Football Club announced its watch list for the Maxwell Award, given annually to "America's outstanding collegiate football player" (note: 64 of the 65 watch-list nominees are quarterbacks, tailbacks or wideouts, and the only other guy is Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert, so yeah).
While the Big Ten put 14 players on the Bednarik Award watch list, there are only eight Big Ten players on the Maxwell watch list. If anything, that undersells what a defense-heavy conference this'll be in 2012. Because really, while there are eight players on the watch list, there's probably only two that'll be in any serious contention for the Maxwell Award itself.
Here's the full list, and a breakdown follows afterwards.
QB Denard Robinson, Michigan: Well, of course Denard Robinson is going to be on this list. It's the last season for the dynamic Michigan quarterback, and while he can be maddening in his limitations as a passer, he's also a revelation as a runner.
How his evolution as a quarterback continues will be interesting, but there's no question his other-worldly production will continue—so long as he stays healthy.
RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin: And, of course, Montee Ball is going to be on the list too. Ball registered 39 total touchdowns last year, which is some Barry Sanders-level performance. He could be an even bigger part of the offense in 2012 with Danny O'Brien replacing Russell Wilson at QB and WR Nick Toon off to the NFL.
The touchdown total will probably drop, because come on, but his yardage may climb. Either way, Ball's likely at least a semifinalist for this award.
RB Silas Redd, Penn State: We do like Silas Redd as a workhorse back, and he proved his ability to fill that role last year, as Penn State raced out to an 8-1 record. The problem is that Penn State wasn't exactly scoring a lot of points or dominating any decent competition in that span, and there's little better about the offensive personnel this year. Tailbacks on low-octane offenses get no Maxwell love.
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan: Toussaint is probably going to put up some solid numbers now that he's going to have a full season as Michigan's feature back; if his numbers as a starter in 2011 were extrapolated to a 13-game year, he'd have put up 1,482 yards and 11 touchdowns (~10.9 if you want to be a jerk about it).
That'd be a heck of a year, but the obvious problem is that this isn't Toussaint's offense; it's Robinson's. Robinson is the one who's going to be logging far more total yards per game—maybe even more rushing yards if he breaks a few big plays—and second fiddles get no Maxwell love.
WR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin: To be clear: Abbrederis probably belongs nowhere near a Maxwell Award watch list. But among the QBs, RBs and WRs in the conference, Abbrederis is probably the best player left out of this group of 65.
Abbrederis isn't bad by any stretch—he's going to be absolutely essential for the Badger offense to succeed, as a matter of fact—but if anybody tells you that Abbrederis might be the best offensive player in the nation, it's okay to hit them. You're doing that person a favor.