The awards watch lists keep pouring out, and after yesterday's seemingly all-inclusive Lombardi list that had well over 100 players on it, the Biletnikoff watch list came out today.
The Biletnikoff Award watch list was a lot shorter—just 50 guys and a veritable who's who of the returning top college football wide receivers. Robert Woods (the electrifying USC Trojan), Jared Abbrederis (the hardworking Badger), Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey of Dana Holgorsen's Mountaineers were on the list to headline the position.
Also on the list were two players looking to rebound in 2012—Roy Roundtree at Michigan and Justin Hunter at Tennessee.
Roundtree took a backseat in 2011 to Junior Hemingway and looks to build on his just 19 catches for the season as he pushes back to the forefront of the Wolverines' passing game.
Justin Hunter is coming back from a more devastating setback—a torn ACL in 2011. Hunter is one of the nation's best returning receivers, and he stands a chance to truly impact the Vols push for a bowl bid.
The folks at the Biletnikoff Awards also made sure to include DeAndre Hopkins on the list. Nuke Hopkins is one of the better wide receivers in the ACC, and the 2010 freshman All-American is set to make waves in year two of Chad Morris' offense.
Oddly enough, Hopkins' running mate, Sammy Watkins, is missing from the watch list. So too is Marqise Lee, the standout wide receiver from the University of Southern California. For Sammy Watkins, signs point to the arrest of the Clemson wide receiver as to "why" he is not on the watch list.
Sammy Watkins not on Biletnikoff Award watch list (best WR) due to his arrest. Award policy.— Greg Wallace (@aimclemson) July 17, 2012
However, as Wallace points out, the sophomore wide receiver can still be added to the list with a solid performance in 2012:
However Watkins could be added to list if he performs well in-season. I'd expect that to happen.— Greg Wallace (@aimclemson) July 17, 2012
An interesting point, although if the Biletnikoff was attempting to push the leadership, self-discipline and positive impact on his teammates criteria, simply leaving Watkins off the list but allowing him to win it does not hold much water—especially with Watkins currently residing on the Maxwell Award watch list, a list that holds a bit more national sway.
Penalizing the kid in June rings pretty hollow, especially since he'll be out there competing to win the award come September.
As for Marqise Lee, the snub is more puzzling. No hollow "self-discipline" clause for the Trojans' sophomore. Instead, Lee, who finished 15th in receiving yards per game in 2011, was simply not worthy of the Biletnikoff's list.
As you can see from the criteria, there are no class limits to making the list. There is also no class stipulation for winners, as Michael Crabtree showed us in 2007 and again in 2008.
So where is Marqise Lee?
Only one sophomore made the 2012 Biletnikoff Award watch list—Matt Miler from Boise State. Miller was the Broncos' second-leading receiver in 2011, posting 62 catches, 679 yards and nine touchdowns. The redshirt freshman was a Freshman All-American who posted some great numbers, albeit numbers that were not quite as good as another Freshman All-American, Marqise Lee. Lee totaled more catches (73), more yards (1,143) and more touchdowns (11).
The Biletnikoff is not a third-year player award. It's a prize to be won by the best wide receiver in the nation. Last year, Robert Woods, a sophomore, was a finalist. Michael Crabtree took home the hardware in his 2007 redshirt freshman season.
While the watch lists got it wrong by not including the standout sophomores that are Sammy Watkins and Marqise Lee, odds are that come season's end the award's voters will get things correct.
There is some stiff competition for the award, and as players from all over fight for the prize, USC's Robert Woods will be pushing to give the Trojans their first-ever Biletnikoff Award winner.
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