Cougars on preseason awards watch lists

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College football’s preseason awards are being announced, and that’s added more to BYU’s fire leading up to kickoff as multiple players have been named to preseason watch lists.

Eathyn Manumaleuna attempts to break up a pass from Jon Hays last season.
Eathyn Manumaleuna attempts to break up a pass from Jon Hays last season.

Senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy has been named to the 2013 Bronco Nagurski preseason watch list, an award given to the nation’s top defensive player by the Football Writer’s Association of America. Van Noy is among a list of notable players: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was a finalist last year, Scott Chrichton of Oregon State and Jordan Hicks of Texas.

Van Noy is also on the watch list for the 2013 Bednarik Trophy, likewise given to the top defensive player of the year. Van Noy is again joined by Clowney along with linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama.

Van Noy is coming off an All-American season in which he recorded a stat in every major defensive statistical category for the second consecutive season, the only current FBS player to do so. Last season he recorded 13 sacks, second nationally, forced six fumbles and recorded 22 tackles for loss.

“I just want to be able to go out there and do the same things I’ve done every year, which is get a stat in every category and change the momentum of the games and help out the team best as possible. And if I do that everything else will fall into place,” Van Noy said.

Senior tight end Kaneakua Friel has been named to the 2013 John Mackey award preseason watch list, given to the nation’s top tight end. Friel joins a list of notable names including Utah’s Jake Murphy, Arizona State’s Chris Coyle and North Carolina’s Eric Ebron.

Friel had 30 receptions and 308 yards in 13 starts last season. Tight ends have typically been a focal point of coach Robert Anae’s offenses in the past. All-Americans Jonny Harline and Dennis Pitta were both very productive senior tight ends under Coach Anae, and Friel hopes to join those ranks this season.

Senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna has been named to the Outland Trophy watch list, an award given to the nation’s top interior lineman by the FWAA. Manumaleuna is slated to start at the nose tackle spot, a position left open when Romney Fuga graduated to the NFL, although it is preferred to have him start on the end spot opposite of Bronson Kaufusi.

“It’s going to be very important when we start camp. … We were thin last year, but this year we have Eathyn,” defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi said. “I would love to leave him out at the four-technique spot. If we had to play tomorrow Eathyn’s got to go inside and play that nose position.”

The nose tackle position is crucial in BYU’s 3-4 defense. If Manumaleuna can be a critical cog in another top-five BYU defense, his chances of winning the award are good.

Senior receiver JD Falslev is on the watch list for the 2013 Paul Hornung award, given to the most versatile player in college football. Falslev is a return specialist for BYU as well as a slot receiver.¬†Falslev is joined on the list by last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, and Quandre Diggs of Texas.

Falslev’s contributions have increased every season he has been with the Cougars. He returned punts sparingly as a freshman, then had 22 returns for 220 yards, including a 67-yard punt return touchdown against TCU as a sophomore. His junior year he amassed 916 all-purpose yards, playing receiver, running back and return specialist. He’ll look to continue that trend this year in whatever role coaches decide to put him in.

“I’m excited to see where my role goes throughout the fall,” Falslev said.

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