The football team looks to have a strong year with seven players being named to multiple pre-season watch lists that honor the nations top players.
Riley Nelson was named on the Davey O’Brien Quarterback Award and Maxwell Award watch lists. The O’Brien Award goes to the nations top quarterback for the year. There are 34 different players named to the watch list. BYU has the most O’Brien award winners with four. Jim McMahon won in 1981, Steve Young in 1983 and Ty Detmer is one of three players to win the award twice in 1990 and 1991. Other members on the watch list include Matt Barkley (USC), Tajh Boyd (Clemson) and Denard Robinson (Michigan).
The Maxwell Award goes to America’s Most Outstanding football player. Nelson is one of 23 quarterbacks and 65 players overall to be included on the list. Other members of the list include 2011 semifinalists Barkley, Boyd, Landry Jones (Oklahoma) and Robert Woods (USC). BYU has one Maxwell winner, Detmer, who won the award in 1990.
Running back Michael Alisa was named to two preseason watch lists. Alisa was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list and as an All-State AFCA Good Works team nominee. The Doak Walker award goes to the nations top running back. Alisa is one of 52 preseason candidates that include Montee Ball from Wisconsin, Rex Burkhead from Nebraska, Zach Line from SMU and Joseph Randle from Oklahoma State. Former BYU standout, Luke Staley won the award in 2001 when he led the nation in scoring and yards per carry while third in total rushing yards.
The Good Works team is one of the most prestigious off-the-field honors for football players. It is a select group of players committed to making a difference in their community. Nelson was named as nominee to the 2010 team as well.
Cody Hoffman was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list. The award is given annually to the most outstanding wide receiver in college football. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club (TQC) Foundation, Inc., the Florida-based creator and sponsor of the Biletnikoff Award, released the watch list. The award has a season long voting process before being announced in December. It has been around since 1994 and previous winners include Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
Braden Hansen has been named to the Lombardi and Outland Trophy Award watch lists. The Outland Trophy goes to the nation’s best interior lineman. The list includes 71 players who are centers, tackles or guards on both sides of the ball. Hansen was also chosen as a Phil Steele Preseason All-American.
Kyle Van Noy joins Hansen on the Lombardi Award watch list and was named to the Nagurski Award watch list as well. The Lombardi award goes to the nations top lineman or linebacker. The candidates earned a place on the Official Watch List by earning All-American honors last season, being named last season to their respective all-conference first team as determined by the conference’s head coaches, being projected to be an All-American or first team all-conference player for the coming season, or by nomination approved by the nominations committee.
The Nagurski Award is given annually to the nation’s best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Every NCAA Division I Bowl Subdivision conference and independents BYU and Notre Dame are represented on the list that is led by 30 standout linebackers. Van Noy is one of 84 players on the watch list.
Uona Kaveinga was named to the Butkus Award watch list. The Butkus Award is given annually to the nations top linebacker. Kaveinga is one of 51 candidates representing 38 different teams across the country. The Butkus award goes to the top players in professional, college and high school football so they can promote the Butkus’ I Play Clean™ program, which encourages players to eat well, train hard and play with attitude. Manti Te’o of Notre Dame is the only returning finalist, after having won the inaugural High School Butkus Award in 2008. Jarvis Jones of Georgia is a returning semi-finalist.
Riley Stephenson was named to the Ray Guy Award watch list. The award goes to the nations top collegiate punter. Stephenson is one of 25 players named to the list. Other members of the list include Ian Campbell (UTEP), Steven Clark (Auburn), Bobby Cowan (Idaho), Richie Leone (Houston), Pat O’Donnell (Cincinnati), Jackson Rice (Oregon), Brian Schmiedebusch (Bowling Green) and Brad Wing (LSU), as well as 2011 Ray Guy Award winner Ryan Allen of Louisiana Tech.