Another day and another set of Michigan State football players showing up on the preseason watch lists for college football awards.
Today, the preseason lists were unveiled for the Outland Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top interior lineman and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy that honors the nation’s top defensive player. Five different Spartan players showed up on the two watch lists.
Let’s start with the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman, either on offense or defense, and has two Spartans named to its preseason watch list.
First up is Jack Allen, a redshirt junior center. Allen started the final 12 games at center for MSU last year as a sophomore and was named second team All-Big Ten by the media and to the ESPN.com Big Ten All-Bowl Team for his performance in the Rose Bowl win over Stanford. As a freshman in 2012 Allen started 12 games, played in all 13 games and earned Freshman First Team All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America and the Sporting News. Allen is also on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, presented to the nation’s best center.
Jack Conklin, a redshirt sophomore, was also named to the Outland watch list. Conklin started 13 games for MSU last year as a freshman, including 10 at left tackle. He was named as a Freshman First Team All-American by The Sporting News, CollegeFootballNews.com and the Football Writers Association of America. Conklin was also named to ESPN.com’s Big Ten All-Freshman Team and was an Academic All-Big Ten pick.
The only player from Michigan State to win the Outland Trophy was Ed Bagdon back in 1949.
Up next is the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the best defensive player in college football. Last year, Darqueze Dennard was named as one of the five finalists for the award that was won by Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald. This year three Spartans made the preseason watch list for the award.
Number one on the list for the Spartans is none other than Bane himself, Shilique Calhoun. Calhoun burst onto the scene last year with Michigan State, won the Big Ten’s Defensive Lineman of the Year Award, was named First Team All-Big Ten and also Second Team All-American. Calhoun led Michigan State with 7.5 sacks and four fumble recoveries and was second on the team with 14 tackles for loss. He led all of college football and tied a modern MSU record with three defensive touchdowns.
Also making an appearance on the Nagurski watch list is senior safety Kurtis Drummond. Drummond has started 21 straight games at safety for the Spartans dating back to his freshman season of 2011. For his career, Kurtis has 161 tackles, 10 pass break-ups and eight interceptions. He ranked second on the team last year with 91 tackles and tied for the team lead and second in the Big Ten with four interceptions. He was named a First Team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and Second Team All-Big Ten by the media.
The final Spartan to watch for the Nagurski Trophy is junior cornerback Trae Waynes. Last year Waynes started all 14 games at corner opposite Thorpe Award winner Darqueze Dennard. He picked up 50 tackles, broke up five passes and picked off three others, including one in the Rose Bowl against Stanford. Waynes will have big shoes to fill this year as he takes over as the number one corner role from Dennard.
The trio of Calhoun, Drummond and Waynes were also selected to the Bednarik Award watch list. That award is presented to college football’s defensive player of the year.