A year ago, Baker Mayfield earned a clean sweep of the major college football awards before claiming the Heisman.
The prizes handed out Thursday night are usually a good indicator for who will receive the Heisman, and two of this year’s Heisman finalists are in the running for the Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award.
In addition to keeping an eye on the Heisman hopefuls, we should take note of Thursday’s other top honorees, as a good amount of them will be playing in the NFL at this time next year.
The full list of nominees and presenters for Thursday night’s award show can be found here.
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray are two of three finalists for both the Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award.
Tagovailoa and Murray are nominated alongside West Virginia’s Will Grier for the Maxwell, which is handed out to the best overall college football player, while Washington State’s Gardner Minshew joins them in the running for the O’Brien, which honors the nation’s best quarterback.
Normally, the Maxwell and O’Brien trophies give us an idea of which player will land the Heisman two days later in New York City.
However, with Murray and Tagovailoa neck-and-neck in the eyes of some voters, the pair could end up splitting the awards.
In each of the last four seasons, the player who won the Maxwell went on to win the Heisman, with A.J. McCarron being the last player to win just the Maxwell.
The O’Brien went to Deshaun Watson in back-to-back seasons before Baker Mayfield won the award in 2017.
Before that, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, Robert Griffin III, Marcus Mariota and Mayfield took both the O’Brien and Heisman.
The notable absence from both lists is Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, whose late surge propelled him into Heisman discussion, but it was too late to land him in the final three of the other prestigious individual awards.
All 3 Bednarik Award Nominees Expected To Be 1st-Round Picks
If you haven’t familiarized yourself with some of college football’s top defensive players, do so in the coming months as they all declare for the NFL draft.
The first round is expected to be full of defensive selections, and three of them are finalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year.
Alabama’s Quinnen Williams rocketed up draft boards after his monster performance against LSU, and he is one of a few players who could beat out Nick Bosa or Ed Oliver to be the No. 1 overall pick.
Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen and Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins are the other two nominees for the award.
Unlike some of the other awards handed out Thursday night, there’s no clear-cut favorite to win the Bednarik Award, as all three are deserving of the honor.
Allen, who is fourth in the FBS with 14 sacks, could be the top linebacker chosen in April after starring for a Kentucky team that surprisingly won nine regular-season games and is headed for a New Year’s Day bowl.
Wilkins is the most recognizable name of the trio, as he is part of Clemson’s ferocious defensive line that could produce four first-round draft picks.
Alongside Dexter Lawrence, Austin Bryant, and Clelin Ferrell, Wilkins helped the Tigers produce the ninth-best total defense in the FBS and the second-best scoring defense.
Allen has to be seen as a slight favorite to win the Bednarik at the moment after he took home the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Monday night.
In five of the last six seasons, the Nagurski winner has gone on to win the Bednarik, with the lone split coming in 2017 when Minkah Fitzpatrick took home the Bednarik and Bradley Chubb was awarded the Nagurski.