The Maxwell Football Club announced its watch lists for the 81st annual Maxwell Award and the 23rd annual Chuck Bednarik Award, and six Ohio State Buckeyes found their way onto the too-early radar for the organization.
On the offensive side, competing for the Maxwell Award will be quarterback J.T. Barrett and running back Mike Weber. Barrett has spent many pre-seasons being named to watch lists, and with this being his last season in Columbus, he’s bound to make it count. During his time with the Buckeyes, Barrett has earned 23 school records, including being the only three-time captain in Ohio State history.
While he may be less experienced than Barrett, rusher Mike Weber is also expected to have a big season this year. He’s coming off of a freshman season that was capped with the Big Ten's Thomson-Randle El freshman of the year award, following a performance that made him just the third Ohio State freshman to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season (1,096 yards) while scoring nine touchdowns and averaging 6.0 yards per carry.
Over on defense, there is a mix of young and old competing for the Bednarik Award, including linebacker Jerome Baker, defensive ends Nick Bosa and Tyquan Lewis, and cornerback Denzel Ward.
Lewis, the fifth-year senior, is hoping to add another bit of hardware to his collegiate resume, building off of his current reign as the Big Ten Smith-Brown defensive lineman of the year.
The Silver Bullets were loaded last season, and despite Denzel Ward not getting a start in 2016 — behind Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley — the cornerback still lined up for 468 snaps, among the three-man rotation. He’s expected to be a critical component to the team’s defense in 2017 and could end up improving on his nine pass breakups, which tied for the team-lead last year.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced Oct. 30, 2017, followed by an announcement of the final three for each award on Nov. 20. The winners of the 2017 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on December 7, 2017.