As we prepare for the 2011 NCAA football season, a pair of Pitt Panthers were tagged with some preseason honors.
Junior running back Ray Graham has been put onto the Maxwell Award watch list and senior defensive end Brandon Lindsey was named to the Bednarik watch list, the Maxwell Football Club announced.
Graham, who will be given his first opportunity as the Panthers feature back, is one of 66 players on the list for the Maxwell, which is given to America’s most outstanding college football player.
Coming into his junior year with the Panthers, Graham has rushed for 1,271 yards and 12 touchdowns on 209 career carries. He could be set to have a big season in new Pitt head coach Todd Graham’s “high octane” offense.
Lindsey is one of 65 players named to the watch list for the Bednarik, awarded annually to the nation’s top defensive player.
After biding his time behind former defensive ends Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus, Lindsey made an impact in 2010 when given the opportunity. After an injury to Romeus created more playing time for Lindsey, he rewarded the Panthers with a 51-tackle, 10-sack campaign.
Both men will be looked upon to have a big 2011 season for the Panthers.
Graham will receive a ton of touches as he settles into the role once occupied by Dion Lewis. With his explosiveness and big-play ability, there is no reason to believe that Graham can’t put together a solid statistical season for the Panthers.
In the case of Lindsey, expect him to continue to get to the quarterback in the same fashion as his predecessors did. He will likely move around a bit in Graham’s defense, but Lindsey should also put together another big season.
With the 2011 season only a few months away, Graham and Lindsey are just a pair of Panthers to keep an eye on as the Panthers attempt to make a run at the Big East title.