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Alabama's Derrick Henry highlights Maxwell Award Watch List

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Alabama's Derrick Henry makes the Maxwell Award Watch List after surprising with 100 yards in the Sugar Bowl. (©GettyImages)
Alabama's Derrick Henry makes the Maxwell Award Watch List after surprising with 100 yards in the Sugar Bowl. (©GettyImages).

A squad of young quarterbacks heads a star-studded list of players in contention for this year’s Maxwell Award, which has been given to college football’s player of the year since 1937.

The Maxwell Football Club announced its Maxwell and Bednarik Watch Lists for 2014 this week.

Offensive contenders

Returning Maxwell Award semifinalists include Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. But of the signal-callers, Florida State’s Jameis Winston has to be considered the favorite to win the award after leading his team to a national championship while winning the Heisman trophy last season.

Winston’s squad had two other players on the list, with running back Karlos Williams and wide receiver Rashad Greene joining the redshirt sophomore quarterback. Oregon, Baylor and USC also had three athletes on the list, but Alabama topped them all with four.

One to watch

One player to watch for the Crimson Tide will be sophomore running back Derrick Henry, a former five-star recruit who surprised late last season with 100 yards on only eight rushes in his team’s 45-31 Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma.

Behind the flash of the offensive award winners are the league’s contenders for defensive player of the year.

Defensive contenders

The Chuck Bednarik Award has gone to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995. Its focus this year is on fearsome pass-rushing defensive ends, from Clemson’s Vic Beasley to Southern California’s Leonard Williams.

Georgia landed three linebackers on the list – Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins and Ramik Wilson, though that may speak to the team’s lack of a clear-cut superstar at the position, rather  than suggesting that each of the three are top-flight players.

Only Stanford had more players on the defensive watch list, with four.

The Maxwell Football Club’s selection committee made its selections based on both past performance and future potential. Players will be added to or deleted from the list as the year goes on, which means early-season upstarts will probably break through while bad performers or injured players will fade.

Dates for your calendar

Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Chuck Bednarik Awards will be announced on November 3. The three finalists will be chosen and announced on November 23, followed by a presentation of the winners on December 11.

Awards still matter, as evidenced by the mass publicity attracted by the Heisman Award show in New York each year. In recent days, the Bednarik, Maxwell, Mackey, Rimington, Lou Groza, Ray Guy, Bronko Nagurski and Outland awards and trophies have presented their watch lists.

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