Seven MAC Student-Athletes Named to Maxwell Award Watch List
The Maxwell Football Club today announced the watch list for the 77th annual Maxwell Award. Named in honor of Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell, the award has been given annually to America's College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell’s contributions to the game of football were extensive, including as a player, a sportswriter and an official.
Representing the MAC on the 2013 Maxwell Award Watch List are Kent State RB Dri Archer; Ohio RB Beau Blankenship, Toledo RB David Fluellen; Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch; Buffalo RB Branden Oliver; Central Michigan RB Zurlon Tipton and Ball State QB Keith Wenning.
Archer, who missed the 2011 season, came storming back in 2012 with a Kent State single-season record 23 touchdowns (16 rushing, 4 receiving, 3 kick returns). His 9.0 yards per carry led the nation as did his 36.9 yards per kick return.
Blankenship garnered Second Team accolades after he was named to the All-MAC Second Team and Phil Steele All-MAC First Team following a breakout 2012 campaign. During his junior season, Blankenship rushed for a single-season school record 1,604 yards on the ground. He also rushed for 15 touchdowns, four of which came in the Independence Bowl, which tied the single bowl game record as he went on to earn Co-Offensive MVP honors with his high school teammate, Tyler Tettleton.
Fluellen set the tone for the Rockets offense last year with 1,498 yard rushing on 259 carries (5.8 avg.) with 13 rushing touchdowns for a 124.8 yards per game average. Fluellen led MAC running backs in yards per game (124.8), ranked fourth overall in rushing yards (1,498) and his 13 rushing touchdowns ranked seventh in the conference.
Lynch proved his versatility last season becoming the first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in NCAA history to pass for more than 3,000 yards (3,138) and rush for more than 1,500 yards (1,815) in a single season. Last season, the Chicago native ranked fourth in the nation in rushing and had more 100-yard games (12) than any other player in Division I. Lynch led the Huskies to a 12-game winning streak, including a double overtime win over Kent State, and a berth in the 2013 Orange Bowl. Lynch, who finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting last year, earned second team All-America honors from the Associated Press and Phil Steele's Magazine last season and won the Vern Smith Leadership Award as MAC MVP. NIU has launched a Heisman Trophy campaign for Lynch for 2013 centered around the theme, "Jordan Lynch for 6," including a website, www.JordanLynchfor6.com.
Oliver is the first player in Buffalo school history to be named to the Maxwell Award watch list and is on the list for the second straight year. A season after setting the single-season rushing record, Oliver fought through an injury-plagued campaign in 2012, but still led the Bulls in rushing with 821 yards in just seven games. The senior running back averaged 117.3 rushing yards per game in 2012 to rank fourth in the Mid-American Conference.
Tipton burst onto the college football scene in 2012, putting together one of the greatest rushing seasons in Central Michigan football history. His 1,492 rushing yards, the most by a Chippewa running back in 16 years, are fourth all-time in the CMU single season record book and his average of 115.1 yards per game ranked No. 14 in the nation. He finished the season strong, recording seven straight 100-yard games, including a 101-yard effort in Central Michigan’s win over Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Tipton was a regular in the end zone in 2012. His 19 rushing and 20 total touchdowns are tied for the second most ever by a Chippewa and his average of 9.2 points scored per game ranked him No. 20 in the NCAA in 2012.
Wenning was named to the All-MAC Second Team in 2012 and was a two-time MAC Player of the Week. He enters his senior season second in career passing yards (7,254) and first in career pass attempts (1,144) at Ball State. He started 33 straight games before missing the 2012 regular season finale with an injury, but returned to start the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl. A 2013 team captain, Wenning received Ball State's John Magnabosco Most Valuable Offensive Player Award as a junior. Also a team captain as a junior, Wenning's name has shattered many of the school's single season marks. Wenning ranked 31st in the nation last season with 257.9 passing yards per game. He completed 301-of-460 passes for 3,095 yards in 2012 with 24 TD passes. Wenning set the school record for pass completions in a single season and career last season. Wenning has passed for 7,254 career yards and is only the second player in Ball State history to surpass the 7,000-yard passing plateau.
The Maxwell Award watch list will once again incorporate a broad spectrum of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs and conferences from coast to coast. Returning Maxwell Award semifinalists from 2012 include Clemson QB Tajh Boyd, USC WR Marqise Lee, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, Alabama QB AJ McCarron, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller and Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas. The list also showcases six defensive players, and for the first time in Award history three offensive linemen, Michigan OT Taylor Lewan, Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews and Stanford OG David Yankey. Defending National Champion Alabama is the most represented program, with RB T.J. Yeldon, WR Amari Cooper and LB C.J. Mosley joining McCarron.
Last season, Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o made history by becoming the first player to win the Maxwell Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award in the same year. The last defensive player to win the Maxwell Award was Pittsburgh DE Hugh Green in 1980.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced Oct. 29, while the three finalists will be unveiled Nov. 18. The winner of the 2013 Maxwell Award will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 5. The formal presentations of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Harrah's Entertainment Atlantic City on March 7, 2014.
The watch list candidates have been chosen by the Maxwell Football Club's selection committee, which analyzes both past performance and future potential. The Club reserves the right to make additions and deletions to these lists as the 2013 season unfolds. All members of the Maxwell Football Club, NCAA sports information directors, FBS head coaches and selected national media are eligible to vote for the awards. The Maxwell Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 21 awards boast 678 years of tradition-selection excellence.
Player, Position, School, Year
Ameer Abdullah RB Nebraska Junior
Antonio Andrews RB Western Kentucky Senior
Dri Archer RB Kent State Senior
David Ash QB Texas Junior
Anthony Barr LB UCLA Senior
Blake Bell QB Oklahoma Junior
Beau Blankenship RB Ohio Senior
Blake Bortles QB UCF Junior
Tajh Boyd QB Clemson Senior
Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville Junior
Kolton Browning QB UL-Monroe Senior
Ka’Deem Carey RB Arizona Junior
Derek Carr QB Fresno State Senior
Kasey Carrier RB New Mexico Senior
Rakeem Cato QB Marshall Junior
Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina Junior
Brandin Cooks WR Oregon State Junior
Amari Cooper WR Alabama Soph
Stefon Diggs WR Maryland Soph
Kenneth Dixon RB Louisiana Tech Soph
Jeff Driskel QB Florida Junior
Mike Evans WR Texas A&M Soph
Cody Fajardo QB Nevada Junior
David Fales QB San Jose State Senior
David Fluellen RB Toledo Senior
Devin Gardner QB Michigan Senior
Marion Grice RB Arizona State Senior
Todd Gurley RB Georgia Soph
Kevin Hogan QB Stanford Soph
John Hubert RB Kansas State Senior
Brett Hundley QB UCLA Soph
Carlos Hyde RB Ohio State Senior
Duke Johnson RB Miami Soph
Chuckie Keeton QB Utah State Junior
Taylor Kelly QB Arizona State Junior
Marqise Lee WR USC Junior
Taylor Lewan OT Michigan Senior
Jordan Lynch QB Northern Illinois Senior
Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M Soph
Marcus Mariota QB Oregon Soph
Venric Mark RB Northwestern Senior
Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska Senior
Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt Senior
Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M Senior
AJ McCarron QB Alabama Senior
Zach Mettenberger QB LSU Senior
Braxton Miller QB Ohio State Senior
Stephen Morris QB Miami Senior
C.J. Mosley LB Alabama Senior
Adam Muema RB San Diego State Junior
Aaron Murray QB Georgia Senior
Louis Nix III DT Notre Dame Senior
Branden Oliver RB Buffalo Senior
Casey Pachall QB TCU Senior
LaDarius Perkins RB Mississippi State Senior
Keith Price QB Washington Senior
Silas Redd RB USC Senior
Bryn Renner QB North Carolina Senior
Tyler Russell QB Mississippi State Senior
Bishop Sankey RB Washington Junior
Lache Seastrunk RB Baylor Junior
Charles Sims RB West Virginia Senior
Jerome Smith RB Syracuse Senior
Will Sutton DT Arizona State Senior
De’Anthony Thomas RB Oregon Junior
Logan Thomas QB Virginia Tech Senior
Zurlon Tipton RB Central Michigan Senior
Stephon Tuitt DE Notre Dame Junior
Bo Wallace QB Ole Miss Junior
Sammy Watkins WR Clemson Junior
Trey Watts RB Tulsa Senior
Keith Wenning QB Ball State Senior
James White RB Wisconsin Senior
David Yankey OG Stanford Senior
T.J. Yeldon RB Alabama Soph
Zach Zwinak RB Penn State Senior