OMG OMG OMG OMG! Over the next couple weeks all the upcoming awards watch lists are being released! That can only mean that college football season is still over a month away.
In fact, the watch lists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards have already been released. Our wonder dude Rex Burkhead is on the list for the Maxwell, giving annually to the college player of the year.
Unfortunately, given that the watch lists for each award tend to include every possible candidate in order to generate as much publicity as possible, they really don't tell us much about who are the potential best players in the nation.
Also - it isn't that hard to project which of our beloved Huskers will be on what lists before they're released. After the jump are my projections.
Tues., July 10
· Mackey Award (Presented to the nation's most outstanding tight end by the Nassau Co. Sports Commission)
Ben Cotton should be on this list. Cotton is good and could become better this season. Unfortunately, he's not a game changer, and that's what it takes to win this one.
· Rimington Trophy (Presented to the nation's premier center by the Boomer Esiason Foundation)
Given that we don't know who the starting center is.... I'm thinking prolly no Huskers.
Wed., July 11
· Lou Groza Award (Presented to the nation's top place-kicker by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission)
· Ray Guy Award (Presented to the nation's best punter by the Augusta [Ga.] Sports Council)
Brett Maher should make both of these lists, even though he doesn't stand a chance of winning the Lou Groza Award because Lou Groza, his family members, and his dog have a secret hatred of Nebraska. How else could you explain Alex Henery?
Thurs., July 12
· Bronko Nagurski Trophy (Presented to the nation's most outstanding defensive player by the Charlotte Touchdown Club)
· Outland Trophy (Presented to the nation's most outstanding interior lineman by the FWAA)
Name a defensive player other than Will Compton that has any kind of national profile (and honestly, Compton's national profile isn't much because Lavonte David made so many damned tackles last season).
Outland - I could see Spencer Long and Baker Steinkuhler making this list. Honestly, I'm excited about Long. It takes a lot of guts to come out of nowhere and win conference honorable mention honors in your first season of starting, ESPECIALLY as an offensive lineman.
Could either win the Outland? Doubtful. Long is still relatively unknown and while Steinkuhler is a senior, he'd have to have a Ndamukong Suh-like season. I just don't see it in him.
Fri., July 13
· Jim Thorpe Award (Presented to the nation's best defensive back by the Jim Thorpe Association)
Uh. Yeah. Go back to what I said about "national profile".
Mon., July 16
· Butkus Award (Presented to the nation's most outstanding linebacker by the Butkus Foundation)
Will Compton, easily. Compton doesn't need a Lavonte David-type season for Nebraska to be successful, but he does if he wants to make the semifinalist list for this award.
· Rotary Lombardi Award (Presented to the college lineman of the year by the Rotary Club of Houston)
Steinkuhler. Is there a player on either side of the ball that has more to prove than Steinkuhler? Granted, he's spent some time under the shadow of Jared Crick, but after Crick went down with injury last season, it wasn't like Steinkuhler was a line-plugging running back destroyer. This year, Steinkuhler needs to elevate his game to "great".
Tues., July 17
· Biletnikoff Award (Presented to the nation's most outstanding receiver by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation)
Nebraska's receivers are no doubt more exciting and full of potential than they've been in the past, but I don't see any of them getting on these lists. When asked about Nebraska's receivers, the Biletnikoff Award people stated "Nebraska has receivers? Who knew?"
Weds., July 18
· Davey O'Brien Award (Presented to the nation's best quarterback by the Davey O'Brien Foundation)
Taylor Martinez, if for no other reason that it will start endless bickering by Nebraska fans as to whether Martinez should be allowed to start or be shot in a dark alley. Or maybe not shot, but dismissed with a wanting motion while being blamed for everything wrong ever.
THERE'S A DROUGHT IN NEBRASKA, IT'LL BE OVER WHEN MARTINEZ LEAVES THE STATE....
Thurs., July 19
· Doak Walker Award (Presented to the nation's premier running back by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum).
Burkhead, easily, although he doesn't have a chance of winning it. There are simply more explosive backs out there.
Fri., July 20
· Walter Camp Award (Presented to the nation's most outstanding player by the Walter Camp Football Foundation)
Burkhead. If there's an award I'd like to see Burkhead get, it'd be this one. He's a super man. He's what you want your son(s) to be. You'd let him date your daughter. Hell, you'd probably beg him to date your daughter. (HEY REX I HAVE A DAUGHTER. JUST SAYIN')
There's a reason why Burkhead is one of the most loved Nebraska players in recent memory - because he deserves it.