The Maxwell Award is handed out annually to college football’s player of the year, as voted by the Maxwell Football Club. There are 76 players on the preseason watch list — 10 from the Big Ten.
One of the 10 players on the list is Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon III. He certainly has a chance to take home the prestigious award. But he’s eyeing an even bigger award; the Heisman Trophy. Only one Badger has ever won the Maxwell Award and that was Ron Dayne in 1999. But Wisconsin has had a player named as a semi-finalist for the award for the last three years. Russell Wilson (2011), Montee Ball (2012) and MGIII himself (2013), as a sophomore no less. He was named a semi-finalist despite James White, technically, being the starter for the majority of the season. But White is in the NFL now and MGIII has the spotlight to himself this fall.
But there is a lot of competition for the Maxwell Award. Jameis Winston was a finalist last year as a freshman and is certainly going to be the favorite to take home the award this year. Especially if Florida State has as good of a season in 2014 as they did last year.
But there is some hefty competition for MGIII within the Big Ten as well. If he can take home the Maxwell it will be a major indication that the Badgers are headed for a big-time bowl game — maybe even for a slot in the new college football playoff.
Ah, playoffs in college football. How exciting.
The other nine Big Ten players named to the Maxwell Award watch list are:
RB Ameer Abdullah – Nebraska
QB Connar Cook – Michigan State
WR Stefon Diggs – Maryland
WR Devin Funchess – Michigan
QB Devin Gardner – Michigan
QB Christian Hackenberg – Penn State
RB Jeremy Langford – Michigan State
RB Venric Mark – Northwestern
QB Braxton Miller – Ohio State
In my opinion, MGIII’s biggest competition for the Maxwell Award within the Big Ten has to be Braxton Miller and Ameer Abdullah. Both players have the potential to play at an elite level for the entirety of the 2014 season. I expect Michigan State to fall back down a notch in competitiveness this fall. And Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State simply won’t be relevant enough for any of their stars to take home the award. Of course, I’ve been wrong before once or twice so we’ll see how it shakes out.
I’m not a betting man, but if I was, MGIII would be the player I’d throw my money down on. On paper he has to be the favorite to win the award (out of the Big Ten teams). He’s simply the most explosive back in college football. Combine that with Wisconsin’s run-first philosophy, dominant offensive line and a relatively soft schedule … I mean come on, we could see some video game-esque stats out of him in 2014.
Lets hope he takes home the award. Lets hope he takes home a few. If the Badgers can defeat LSU in week 1, they’ll have the chance to play their way into the college football playoff.