The Maxwell Football Club released its 75-player watch lists for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation’s top overall player, and the Bednarik Award, designated for college football’s top defensive performer.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o won both awards last season. Former teammate Stephon Tuitt appears on both lists, as he tries to replicate the feat only Te’o achieved as winner of both the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards.
Of course, South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a decided favorite to complete the sweep. Clowney is generating considerable buzz this off-season. Bovada has Clowney’s odds for the Heisman Trophy at 10/1, unprecedented territory for a defense-only player.
Te’o set the foundation for defensive players, navigating into uncharted territory when he was runner-up to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for the Heisman, and winner of the Maxwell.
Interestingly, Te’o is not the first Maxwell Award winner to not win the Heisman. Far from it.
In fact, since 2000, only two players have claimed both individual honors: Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in 2007, and Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in 2010.
Manziel’s quest to become just the second-ever two-time Heisman winner coincides with a journey to pull off the rare National Player of the Year sweep.
Key to Manziel’s production is offensive tackle Jake Matthews, who also appears on the Maxwell Award watch list. An offensive lineman taking home the prestigious honor would be landmark, but recent years have suggested awards voters are becoming more open to casting non-traditional ballots.
A handful of contenders for the Third Annual SaturdayBlitz.com Ty Detmer Award are included on the Maxwell Award watch list. They are Fresno State’s Derek Carr, Marshall’s Rakeem Cato, Central Michigan’s Zurlon Tipton, Buffalo’s Branden Oliver, Nevada’s Cody Fajardo, San Jose State’s David Fales, Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton, Ball State’s Keith Wenning, La.-Monroe’s Kolton Browning and Toledo’s David Fluellen.
The 2012 Detmer Award winner, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, also appears on the Maxwell watch list.
BYU Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy is a preseason Bednarik and Detmer Award candidate.