BYU's Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams, Utah's Dres Anderson and Utah State's Chuckie Keeton were named to the Maxwell Award Watch List released Monday.
The Maxwell Award is given annually to a college football player deemed the best in the country, as determined by the Maxwell Football Club. Semifinalists for the award will be named on Nov. 3, followed by three finalists on Nov. 24, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 11 during the "Home Depot College Football Awards Show."
The Cougars' backfield tandem of quarterback Hill and running back Williams return for their junior seasons in 2014. The dual-threat Hill finished last season 10th in the FBS in total offensive yards per game with 329.4. He rushed for a team-high 1,344 yards, an average of 103.4 per game, and 10 touchdowns; Hill also passed for 2,938 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2013.
Williams is BYU's top returning running back after rushing for 1,233 yards and seven touchdowns last season. That included a 219-yard effort against Nevada in the season finale. He is currently 10th on BYU's all-time rushing list with 2,008 rushing yards.
The Utes' top wide receiver Anderson had a breakout junior season in 2013, catching 53 passes for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns. His 18.9 yards-per-catch average was tops in the Pac-12 and 12th in the country. Anderson also had eight rushes for 30 yards and a touchdown and returned kickoffs for the Utes, finishing the year averaging 105.3 all-purpose yards per game.
Keeton returns for his final season as Utah State's starting quarterback after having his junior year cut short by injury. Before a knee injury against BYU knocked him out the remainder of the 2013 season, Keeton threw for 1,388 yards, 18 touchdowns and two interceptions last season; he has thrown for 5,961 yards, 56 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his Aggie career while also rushing for 1,153 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is first all-time in Utah State history with a .665 career completion percentage, and his 56 touchdown passes are second in school history.
A total of 76 players made this year's watch list, including Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, last year's Heisman Trophy winner and a Maxwell Award finalist. Also on the list are four other semifinalists from 2013, including Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.
Former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer is the lone player from a Utah college to win the Maxwell Award, earning the honor during his junior season in 1990.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron won the 2013 Maxwell Award, while Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o won it in 2012.
BEDNARIK AWARD WATCH LIST: Utah State junior linebacker Kyler Fackrell was named to the 76-man Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List, also released Monday.
The Bednarik Award is given annually to the nation's top defensive player, as determined by the Maxwell Football Club. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was selected 13th overall in this year's NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams, won the 2013 Bednarik Award.
Fackrell was named an honorable mention Sophomore All-American by College Football News last season after recording 87 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He had a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown against Hawaii in 2013, and Fackrell has six career double-digit tackle games, including a career-high 13 against BYU last year.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @brandonljudd
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company