|Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports|
|Clemson's Vic Beasley is among the highly regarded defensive prospects for 2015.|
We're 49 days away from the start of the 2014 college football season, meaning fans are desperate to read any kind of news related to college football.
(Well, good news, anyway. The issue: Chances are if a specific player is being written about at this time of the year, it's not for anything laudatory.)
Anyway, the presenters of various college football awards have started releasing their "watch lists" for the season. Thursday saw the release of watch lists for the Nagurski (top defender) and Outland (top interior lineman) trophies. There are 81 players on the Nagurski list and 64 on the Outland list. Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald won both awards last season.
While this is considered the "Year of the Quarterback" in the Pac-12, the league also had the most players on the Nagurski list (18, to the SEC's 16), with Stanford and Washington having four each. Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley, Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory are the headliners. NFL Media draft analyst Bucky Brooks recently wrote that Beasley could "thrive in a Von Miller-like role" in the NFL.
Almost a third of the players on the Outland list (19) play for SEC schools, and four league schools had three players apiece (Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina and Texas A&M). The list is headed by four offensive tackles: LSU's La'El Collins, Florida State's Cameron Erving, Texas A&M's Cedric Ogbuehi and Iowa's Brandon Scherff.
The organizers of the Lou Groza (top kicker) and Ray Guy (top punter) awards releasted their lists Wednesday. One of those on the Groza list is Florida state sophomore Roberto Aguayo, who won the award last season. Arizona State's Zane Gonzalez, Oklahoma's Michael Hunnicutt, USF's Marvin Kloss, San Jose State's Austin Lopez and Georgia's Marshall Morgan also are on the list. Gonzalez led the nation with 25 field goals last season; Hunnicutt was second with 24. The Guy list features, among other, Texas A&M's Drew Kaser, Idaho's Austin Rehkow and Michigan State's Mike Sadler. Rehkow is the leading returning punter in the nation; he averaged 47.8 yards per attempt (with 75 attempts) as a freshman last season.
The Mackey Award (top tight end) and Rimington Trophy (top center) organizers released their lists Tuesday. Perhaps the most intriguing name on the Mackey list is Oklahoma's Blake Bell, who started eight games at quarterback last season and moved to tight end during spring practice. Other names on the Mackey list include Iowa State's E.J. Bibbs, Ohio State's Jeff Heuerman, Alabama's O.J. Howard, Notre Dame's Ben Koyack and Florida State's Nick O'Leary. The Rimington list is headed by Oregon's Hroniss Grasu, along with Auburn's Reese Dismukes and Kansas State's Thomas Finney.
The Maxwell (top player) and Bednarik (top defensive player) awards released their lists Monday. Among the players on the Maxwell list: Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (the 2013 Heisman winner -- but not the Maxwell winner, who was former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron), Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, Georgia running back Todd Gurley and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. Also on the list: North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett and Alabama quarterback Jacob Coker, neither of whom has taken a snap for his team. Brissett sat out last season after transferring from Florida, while Coker arrived in Tuscaloosa after transferring from Florida State following the spring semester. Among the players on the Bednarik list: Clemson end Vic Beasley, Michigan State end Shilique Calhoun, Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Nebraska end Randy Gregory and USC end Leonard Williams. Pitt tackle Aaron Donald, a first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams, was the '13 Bednarik winner.
All the watch lists are here; that site will be updated daily as more watch lists are announced.
The Friday watch list announcement will come from the organizers of the Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back).
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.