If you are feeling like college football is still far away, well it might not be as far as you think, as the first “Watch Lists“ have been released, with plenty more on the near horizon. The first two that have come out are the Maxwell Award and the Bednarik Award, which are both overseen by the Maxwell Football Club. The Maxwell Award has been given to “America’s outstanding college football player” since 1937 while the Bednarik Award has handed to the “nation’s top defensive player” beginning in 1995. Looking at both the North Carolina football program have two candidates when it comes to the offensive side and one for the defensive one. In a year that the program does not see the post season being able to have players in these list might just give the fan base and the recruits things to think about. And for a new head coach like Larry Fedora this can only be a good thing in the long run.
For the Maxwell Award it’s the back field duo of quarterback Bryn Renner (6’3″/215 lbs) and tail back Giovani Bernard (5’10″/205 lbs). The gunslinger threw 239 for 350 (68.3%) for 3,086 yards and a single season school record 26 TDs. And all of this while being hampered by bone spurs during the year. The then sophomore ranked 1st in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 10th in the nation in pass efficiency with a 159.4 rating. While Bernard rushed for a UNC freshman record 1,253 yds, along with 13 rushing TDs, which earned the young man first team All-ACC honors. The running back became the first Tar Heel to run for more than 1,000 yards since 1997, bringing back the thought that UNC could once again become known a RB University. To be noted that both these young men had to deal with a team that was being handled by basically a lame duck coach and you can see how these numbers could shoot up in the new offense under coach Fedora.
For the Bednarik Award the only player out of Chapel Hill is senior 6’3″/240 lbs line backer Kevin Reddick. The then junior was second on the team with 71 tackles (39 solos), six tackles for losses and a sack last year. The line backer also had two double digit tackles games, one against Georgia Tech, which he recorded ten, and the other one versus arch rival North Carolina State, where he chimed in for a dozen. All of this is pretty impressive, especially if you add that the senior missed games due to injuries last season.
For both awards the semi finalists will be announced October 29. Afterwards the three finalists will then be revealed November 19. The winner will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show held on December 6. However the formal presentation of both awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Harrah’s Entertainment Atlantic City on March 1, 2013.
As far as the conference look at these two awards it is very interesting to see that North Carolina Football has two out of eight of the players from the ACC when it comes to the Maxwell Awards. In all there is a total of 65 players on this list right now, with 30 running backs, 23 quarter backs, 11 wide outs and just one tight end. While for the Bednarik Award the conference has a total of ten players on the list. The total number on the list is 65 as well, with 20 line backers, 17 corner backs, 14 defensive end, eight defensive tackles and six safeties. On both list the top team for the conference has three players on it, on the Maxwell it is Clemson, while for the Bednarik it’s a pair of schools, Florida State and Virginia Tech.
And while names can (and will be) added or subtracted from the lists, it is pretty sure that out of these names the finalists and winner of these two awards are among the names shown. Could it be one of the Tar Heels? I doubt it, but never say never, since with a new offense could someone like Bernard have an even better season than he did in 2011? Only time will tell. As I do with all the present and former Heels let me congratulate the three young men rappresenting the North Carolina Football program and wish them the best of luck in the upcoming season.