I poke some fun at the preponderance of “Watch Lists” we are forced to endure this time of year. The threshold for some of these awards seems to be little more than merely being a returning starter at a major program. Plus, there are sometimes goofy requirements (the Rotary Lombardi’s are as follows: “A player should be a down lineman on either offense or defense or a linebacker who lines up no farther than five yards deep from the ball”).
That said, I shouldn’t be so harsh in marginalizing some nice little recognition for some of these players – particularly ones who aren’t going to win it and who aren’t going on to pro careers. Sure, they’re silly, space-filling PR vehicles for schools and quarterback clubs from across the country. But that doesn’t mean that most of these players named aren’t worthy of some praise.
Also, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that a team’s strengths can be gleaned merely from a peek at which one of its players are on what watch lists.
Take Penn State. The Nittany Lions are deepest at running back and tight end (hence, two players each on the Doak Walker and Mackey Award watch lists). They have one proven, experienced player each on both the offensive line (Donovan Smith) and at linebacker (Mike Hull). Smith and Hull are on watch lists – no one else is, though.
#Watchlistwatch is also a barometer of how some of a team’s players are viewed from outside the blue-and-white bubble. For example, sure, those who watched Penn State game-in and game-out last season took note of Jordan Lucas’ brilliance. Validation came in the form of a Bednarik trophy watch list appearance. But while Adrian Amos’ versatility and athleticism stood out in 2013, will he be immortalized in form of a “watch list” recognition?
Penn State players’ appearances on preseason watch lists so far:
- Bill Belton (Walker Award – Nation’s Top Running Back)
- Kyle Carter (Mackey Award – Nation’s Top Tight End)
- Christian Hackenberg (Maxwell Award – College Football MVP, O’Brien Award – Nation’s Top Quarterback)
- Mike Hull (Butkus – Nation’s Top Linebacker)
- Jesse James (Mackey Award – Nation’s Top Tight End)
- Jordan Lucas (Bednarik – Defensive Player of the Year, Thorpe – Nation’s Top Defensive Back)
- Donovan Smith (Outland Trophy – Nation’s Top Interior Lineman)
- Zach Zwinak (Walker Award – Nation’s Top Running Back).