The watch list for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award was released Wednesday, consisting of 39 players from all 11 FBS football conferences (Independents included).
Among the included players are last year's recipient and five other returning semifinalists. Despite numerous attempts, no player has won the award twice since Oklahoma's Jason White in 2003-04.
Here is the full 2014 watch list:
|Terrance Broadway||Senior||UL-Lafayette||Sun Belt|
|Shane Carden||Senior||East Carolina||C-USA|
|Connor Cook||Junior||Michigan State||Big Ten|
|Devin Gardner||Senior||Michigan||Big Ten|
|Everett Golson||Junior||Notre Dame||Independent|
|Garrett Grayson||Senior||Colorado St.||MWC|
|Christian Hackenberg||Sophomore||Penn St.||Big Ten|
|Connor Halliday||Senior||Washington St.||Pac-12|
|Grant Hedrick||Senior||Boise St.||MWC|
|Taylor Heinicke||Senior||Old Dominion||C-USA|
|Matt Johnson||Junior||Bowling Green||MAC|
|Chuckie Keeton||Senior||Utah St.||MWC|
|Taylor Kelly||Senior||Arizona St.||Pac-12|
|Trevor Knight||Sophomore||Oklahoma||Big 12|
|Sean Mannion||Senior||Oregon St.||Pac-12|
|Braxton Miller||Senior||Ohio St.||Big Ten|
|Bryce Petty||Senior||Baylor||Big 12|
|Dak Prescott||Junior||Mississippi St.||SEC|
|Joel Stave||Junior||Wisconsin||Big Ten|
|Bo Wallace||Senior||Ole Miss||SEC|
|J.W. Walsh||Junior||Oklahoma St.||Big 12|
|Jake Waters||Senior||Kansas St.||Big 12|
|Davis Webb||Sophomore||Texas Tech||Big 12|
|Jameis Winston||Sophomore||Florida St.||ACC|
Need some favorites to look out for?
Here are five guys who stick out as particularly good candidates, along with one looming sleeper and some other names to watch.
Jameis Winston, Florida State
Like a title belt in boxing, the Davey O'Brien Award (and Heisman Trophy) belongs to Jameis Winston until someone comes and takes it from him. He is the rightful favorite to repeat in 2014.
Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw are gone, but three-time leading receiver Rashad Greene returns alongside a deep group of talented (albeit unproven) playmakers. Keep an eye on true freshmen Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph to emerge during fall camp.
Marcus Mariota, Oregon/Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Lumped together because they were both finalists for the award in 2012, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Ohio State's Braxton Miller are favorites to compete for the Davey O'Brien once again in 2014.
Both are losing a number of their top weapons—whether it be backfield mates or receiving targets—this season, but as dual-threat quarterbacks on teams projected to compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff, it is hard to find a pair of more qualified candidates.
Brett Hundley, UCLA
Speaking of dual-threat quarterbacks expected to compete for a spot in the playoff, UCLA junior Brett Hundley has been good—and borderline great—these past two seasons despite never really getting a fair shake. The offensive line has crumbled due to injuries in front of him, and the playmakers have been so-so at best.
This year, Hundley should have the best supporting cast he's had in this three years as a starter. He should also have a defense capable of winning the Pac-12 and competing for a national title. Combined with Hundley's talent, that is the recipe for an award winner.
Bryce Petty, Baylor
Baylor's offense continues to run in the post-Robert Griffin III era, and if last year was any indication, Bryce Petty has a chance to be every bit as good as the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner.
The Bears defense is a question mark once again—albeit not in the same way it has been in recent years—and the stable of playmakers around Petty, led by senior receiver Antwan Goodley, is amenable to a huge statistical season from the senior quarterback.
Sleeper: Davis Webb, Texas Tech
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury made the news this offseason when he told Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com that his quarterback, Davis Webb, a true sophomore who didn't even start in Week 1 last season, has the potential to become a top-five NFL draft pick.
Webb is 6'5" with an accurate arm and has been adding weight to a slender-ish frame this offseason. He also plays in a passing-heavy system with talented playmakers around him and a defense that will necessitate some shootouts to win games.
Webb finished No. 12 in ESPN's Total QBR metric last season.
Other Names to Watch: Taylor Kelly (Arizona State), Trevor Knight (Oklahoma), Nick Marshall (Auburn), Dak Prescott (Mississippi State).
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT