The SEC is expected to be the central focus of the college football season once again this year. As it always is, of course.
Some of the best players in the country are in the SEC and they are expected to stay that way even as the preseason becomes the regular season becomes award season. It is good to be on the initial list of players to watch.
The Maxwell Football Club released its preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award, given to the best college football player in the country. The SEC has nine players on the watch list as the season gets ready to start.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette, the former Heisman front runner from last year and a potential Heisman winner this year, leads the way for the conference. Fournette is expected to have another big season after his season rushing for 2,206 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns. Fournette is perhaps the best running back in the country and an explosive, highlight-creating player. With the Tigers poised for a big season as a team, Fournette will be a favorite in many award shows.
Tennessee, Alabama and Texas A&M have two players on the watch list each.
The Volunteers, the preseason favorites to win the SEC East and dark horse to win the SEC outright, have running back Jalen Hurd and quarterback Joshua Dobbs on the list. Both are expected to have big seasons to help Tennessee take a step forward as a program and compete for the conference title. They could cannibalize each other’s statistics and hurt each other’s award stock, but the Tennessee offense will go as far as they take them.
Alabama receivers O.J. Howard and Calvin Ridley are also on the list. Ridley 1,045 receiving yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman last year. He will be a focal point of Alabama’s offense. And tight end O.J. Howard has tallied more than 1,100 yards in his three-year career so far. They are the main targets for Alabama’s passing attack this year.
Texas A&M placed wide receiver Christian Kirk and quarterback Trevor Knight on the list. Knight transferred from Oklahoma last year, where he struggled to see the field. But Knight is considered a still strong quarterback prospect. And Kevin Sumlin has done well with quarterbacks.
A player like Kirk has certainly could help his candidacy. He had 1,009 receiving yards as a freshman last year and was used in kickoff returns to great effect too. Kirk could be in store for a strong sophomore year.
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly also made the list after throwing for 4,042 yards and 31 touchdowns last year in Oxford following his transfer from Clemson.
The final SEC player on the list is Georgia running back Nick Chubb. Chubb’s season last year was cut short by an injury, but he is still considered one of the top running backs in the country. He tallied 747 yards and a nation-best 8.1 yards per carry in six games last year.
If he is healthy, Chubb will almost certainly be at the front of several awards lists like this one as the season goes on.
These eight SEC players will all put in big years for their team without doubt and could very well be lifting this award in December when all is said and done.