(WVU Athletics) - West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and inside receiver Tavon Austin are among 65 student-athletes across the nation to be named to the Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List.
The Maxwell Award has been given to America's outstanding collegiate football player since 1937, and is named in honor of sportswriter Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell. The Bednarik Award has been presented to the nation's top defensive player since 1995. A former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, Chuck Bednarik is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of '69 and the NFL Hall of Fame's Class of '67.
The watch lists will once again incorporate a broad spectrum of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs and conferences from coast to coast. Returning Maxwell Award semifinalists from 2011 include USC QB Matt Barkley, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd, Oklahoma QB Landry Jones and USC WR Robert Woods. No program has more athletes on this year's Maxwell Award watch list than USC, which is also represented by WR Marqise Lee and RB Curtis McNeal.
The Bednarik Award watch list features four of last season's semifinalists as well, Kansas State LB Arthur Brown, LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu, Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o and Stanford LB Chase Thomas. It's no coincidence that both of last year's National Championship Game participants, Alabama and LSU, boast four defensive players on this year's watch list. Only Michigan State was able to match the Crimson Tide's and Tigers' total.
The 2011 Maxwell Award winner, Stanford QB Andrew Luck, made himself available for the 2012 NFL Draft, where he was selected No. 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts. The latest Bednarik Award winner, Mathieu, on the other hand, joins Penn State's Paul Posluszny and Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald as the only recipients in award history to return to school with a chance to defend his title.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced October 29, and the three finalists for each award will be unveiled November 19. The winners of the 2011 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show held on December 6. The formal presentation of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Harrah's Entertainment Atlantic City on March 1, 2013.
The watch list candidates have been chosen by the Maxwell Football Club's selection committee, evaluating past performance and future potential. The Club reserves the right to make additions and deletions to these lists as the 2012 season unfolds. All members of the Maxwell Football Club, NCAA sports information directors, head coaches and selected national media are eligible to vote for the awards.
The Maxwell and Bednarik Awards are members of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game's predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association's official website at NCFAA.org.
The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 12-day period this month. Fifteen of the association's 21 awards select a preseason watch list, and this is just the second time the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award's preseason candidates.