The college football season doesn’t start for over another month, but the past two weeks have been another season of sorts: the announcement of award watch lists.
These lists are, by and large, irrelevant. Players can make the watch list and flame out. Or not make the watch list and end up winning the award (which does happen). Also, some lists are quite inclusive — the Bednarik Award, for example, had 80 players on its watch list.
However, here’s what the watch lists accomplish: they set expectations for certain players and also provide confirmation that they are highly regarded around the country.
Of the numerous awards out there, several Minnesota Gophers made the lists.
Brien Boddy-Calhoun made the most — three. He is on the watch lists for the Bednarik (defensive player of the year), Bronko Nagurski (another defensive player of the year) and Lott IMPACT (character and performance).
Boddy-Calhoun, who will be a reshirt senior and captain of the defense, had 51 tackles last season to go with five interceptions, two tackles for loss, nine passes broken up, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Fellow senior cornerback Eric Murray joins Boddy-Calhoun on the Bednarik and Nagurski watch lists. Murray had 69 tackles in 2014 with an interception, seven passes broken up, a fumble recovery and two blocked kicks.
Punter Peter Mortell also made two watch lists. The first, obviously, is for the Ray Guy Award, given to the nation’s top punter. Last season, Mortell was the Big Ten punter of the year, averaging 45.1 yards per boot. He had 21 punts of 50-plus yards and placed 25 punts inside the 20-yard line. Mortell also is on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list. That award is given out for community service along with athletic and academic achievement.
Finally, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell is on the Butkus Award watch list for the nation’s top linebacker. In 2014, Campbell had 75 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception (which he returned for a touchdown).
Minnesota hasn’t had anyone win a national award since 2006 when Matt Speath took home the John Mackey Award for best tight end. Maxx Williams was a finalist for that award last year.
The trophies in which Minnesota doesn’t have anyone on a watch list are the Maxwell (player of the year), Mackey (tight end), Rimington (center), Lou Groza (kicker), Outland (interior lineman), Jim Thorpe (defensive back), Rotary Lombardi (lineman/linebacker), Biletnikoff (wide receiver), Doak Walker (running back) and Davey O’Brien (quarterback).
Of course, that doesn’t mean a Gophers player still couldn’t win one of those.