Texas Football: 5 Longhorns Appear on Final Round of National Award Watch Lists
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The final round of national award watch lists has come out with five Texas football players named preseason contenders, including three repeats. It would be great for the program if any of them simply contend.
Joining their teammates on national watch lists are Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley while David Ash, Jackson Jeffcoat and Mason Walters continue to add more to their resumes.
The addition of the two wideouts makes it 10 players that have made national watch lists. But with none them considered a true favorite, just having a few of them simply contend would be great for the program. This is especially true on defense, which grossly lacked star power in 2012.
Here are the five Longhorns to make the second round of watch lists, followed by the most egregious snubs from the entire cycle.
QB David Ash (O'Brien Award)
Winning the O'Brien Award would be great for Ash, but even falling just short would be a major accomplishment for him and the program.
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David Ash has been named to the 2013 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award Watch List, his fourth appearance on a major watch list this offseason. Just like the others, it is going to take a transcendant campaign to become the third Texas quarterback to win the award.
For Ash to win this award, he will definitely have to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark and put up at least 30 touchdowns while making a BCS run. That has been the formula for winning the award the past 10 years, with the exceptions being Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Troy Smith.
That means Ash has to throw for 301 more yards, account for nine more touchdowns and get Texas around two more wins. All doable, but even that might not be enough if quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller each run for over 1,000 yards in addition to their gaudy passing numbers.
The odds are certainly stacked against him, but Ash finishing in even the top five for the award would mean that he and Texas had a great season. In the end that is all that really matters.
WR Mike Davis (Biletnikoff Award)
The Biletnikoff Award will be a stretch for Mike Davis even if he does break the 1,000-yard mark.
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For the third straight season, wideout Mike Davis has been named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list for the nation's best receiver. For him to win it, he will have to do something no Longhorn has done in four years and then some.
In 2012, Davis was one of Texas' most potent offensive weapons. He fell just 61 yards shy of being the team's first 1,000-yard receiver since 2009, and is expected to remain David Ash's favorite target in 2013.
Davis seems destined to finally eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, but he will have to do much more that that to win to be school's first Biletnikoff Award winner. Each of the past five winners have easily surpassed 1,100 yards and scored well over 10 touchdowns, meaning Davis would have to at least double his career total.
Major Applewhite's offense is expected to give Davis more room to work with this season, so he has the potential to explode. Unfortunately this is a team loaded with skill players, and his eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark will be the ceiling for his senior season.
Jackson Jeffcoat (Lombardi Award, Walter Camp Award)
Jackson Jeffcoat is one of the few players in the country capable of giving Jadeveon Clowney a run for his money.
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Adding to his appearances on the watch lists for the Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award is Jackson Jeffcoat, who has also been named a candidate to win this year's Rotary Lombardi Award as the nation's best lineman as well as the Walter Camp Award for the nation's best player.
Jeffcoat is certainly capable of contending for both awards. He has a rare blend of speed and power off the edge, which has allowed him to sack and/or pressure the quarterback 26.5 times in 26 career games.
Still, he will have to step it up a notch and, to beat the dead horse, stay healthy. It will take at least 15 sacks to top Jadeveon Clowney, the favorite for the Lombardi Award, along with about five forced fumbles and 10 more tackles for loss.
These are all feats Jeffcoat is capable of when he is fully healthy, which he is currently. Fingers crossed that it lasts, because he will be in the mix for the Lombardi Award if he is.
If he wins it, that feat alone should give him a chance at the Walter Camp Award, but even then it would be a long shot. Only three defensive players have won it in its 45-year history.
WR Jaxon Shipley (Biletnikoff Award)
Shipley's hands and athleticism should make him a favorite for next year's Belitnikoff Award.
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Joining Mike Davis on the Biletnikoff Award watch list is Jaxon Shipley, who can cement himself as a favorite for next year's award.
Shipley may not be the deep threat that Davis is on the other side, but he is every bit as talented. He has the best hands and feet on the team, which allow him to make even the toughest catches look routine.
He is, however, more of a possession receiver and is not Ash's favorite option on the downfield bombs. That will keep his yardage down at least until Davis moves on to the NFL, and likely keep him out of serious contention in 2013.
But 2014 should be a different story. Shipley has the speed to develop as a downfield threat, and will easily be the team's most experienced receiving threat as a senior. He should be a Biletnikoff favorite as a result.
RG Mason Walters (Lombardi Award)
Historically, the Outland Trophy has not been kind to interior offensive linemen like Mason Walters.
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Making his second appearance on the Lombardi Award watch list is Mason Walters, the team's star right guard. Unfortunately, the recognition stops there as this is not an award that favors offensive linemen.
Walters, who is also on the Outland Trophy Watch List, is the rock of an offensive line that could undergo major change this season. The team has brought in a new starting left tackle and every other position up front is up for grabs. Except for Walters' who will be an All-Big 12 player in leading the improved unit back from a down 2012 season.
But that will not be enough to put Walters in contention for the Lombardi Award. The last time an offensive lineman won it was Orlando Pace in 1995 and 1996, and he was one of the best left tackles in the history of the game.
If Walters played left tackle this may be a different story. For now, he will have to settle for a great senior season.
Johnathan Gray led all Big 12 freshman with 701 rushing yards last season. Where is he on the Doak Walker Award Watch List?
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QB David Ash (Walter Camp Award): David Ash has been named to the Heisman watch list, the Maxwell Award watch list, the CFPA Offensive Award watch list and the aforementioned O'Brien Award watch list. For a quarterback to be named to these illustrious lists but be left off the one for the Walter Camp Award is puzzling.
LB Jordan Hicks (Butkus Award): Hicks' absence from the Butkus Award watch list is also puzzling. How can a player be named to the watch list for the nation's best defensive player, yet be left off the one for the nation's best linebacker? Someone owes him an apology when Texas has a top-25 defense again this season.
RB Johnathan Gray (Doak Walker Award): This is a joke. Gray led all Big 12 freshmen with 701 rushing yards last season, yet has been left off the watch list for the nation's premier running back. By comparison, TCU sophomore B.J. Catalon ran for 139 fewer yards and did not run for a single touchdown last season yet made the list.
RB Malcolm Brown (Doak Walker Award): Brown is certainly less of a snub than Gray due to his health. But if Baylor's Glasco Martin, who does not even have 1,000 career yards and is playing behind Lache Seastrunk can make it, why not Brown?