The Maxwell Award has announced its ‘watch list’ for the upcoming 2017 season. The list is composed of the top names in college football who will try and show their star power for this coveted accomplishment.
The Big Ten has once again showed the amount of star power they have by having several names featured on the list. Not only from the powerhouses of Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, Michigan, and Michigan State, but the likes of Minnesota, Northwestern, and Rutgers were also given some love from the press.
Let’s take a look at who made the list:
Saquon Barkley (RB/Penn State)
Saquon Barkley had a marvelous Sophomore season, which followed up a great Freshman season nicely. Barkley in his two years for Penn State has rushed for 2572 yards and 25 touchdowns. Putting up numbers like that in your Freshman and Sophomore seasons is unreal, and just shows how great of an athlete Barkley is. Expect big things from the junior this upcoming season.
JT Barrett (QB/Ohio State)
It has felt like JT Barrett has been with Ohio State for at least 6 or 7 years now, right? Well, this will surely be his last as he heads into his senior year trying to make one last title run. Barrett who has thrown for 6381 yards and rushed for 2645 yards, is electrifying in all assets of the game, and with all the talent around him, he’s sure to have another big year.
Janarion Grant (WR/Rutgers)
There aren’t many bright sides to Rutgers football, but amongst the few they have, Janarion Grant heads that list. Grant can do it all, from receiving to getting a hand off in the backfield, and rounding it out by being one of the most electrifying returners in college football. Coming off an injury shortened season, Grant was granted one more year of eligibility by the NCAA, and he looks to make the most of the opportunity.
Justin Jackson (RB/Northwestern)
Justin Jackson hasn’t received the love he deserves. In 3 seasons he has put 3 1000 yard performances, 1187 yards his Freshman year, 1418 yards his Sophomore year, and 1524 yards his Junior year, you can expect another explosion from Jackson in 2017.
Trace McSorley (QB/Penn State)
McSorley helped lead Penn State to a Rose Bowl appearance this past year in his first season leading the Nittany Lion offence. McSorley threw for 3614 yards and 29 touchdowns. With all the attention focusing around Barkley, do not be surprised if Trace McSorley balls out in 2017.
LJ Scott (RB/Michigan State)
LJ Scott is heading into his junior season in East Lansing, and is looking to break out and show what he’s got. Scott has ran for 1693 and 17 touchdowns in his two seasons at MSU, and is ready to double those numbers in 2017. In a Mark Dantonio offense where the likes of Javon Ringer, Edwin Baker, Le’Veon Bell, and Jeremy Langford have come in and made names for themselves, don’t be surprised if LJ Scott has a record shattering season.
Rodney Smith (RB/Minnesota)
The Junior from Minnesota, Rodney Smith is another sneaky talent in the Big Ten. A good combination of size and speed, Smith has shown he can play in his short time at Minnesota. Smith took over the featured role this past season, where he ran for 1158 yards and 16 touchdowns, following a Freshman season that consisted of 670 yards and 2 touchdowns. I don’t know how well Smith will fit with PJ Fleck’s system, but I do know Fleck has a nice asset to work with.
Wilton Speight (QB/Michigan)
Wilton Speight had a successful first season as the Wolverine’s signal caller in 2016. Speight threw for 2538 yards and 18 touchdowns. Under Jim Harbaugh’s guidance I don’t think anyone will be surprised if Speight breaks out with a monster season in 2017.
Clayton Thorson (QB/Northwestern)
Pat Fitzgerald may have finally found the recipe for a record breaking season at Northwestern. With Justin Jackson manning the backfield, and Clayton Thorson as the man leading the offense, the Wildcats are going to be a tough test for whoever crosses their path in 2017. Thorson, who has a cannon of an arm, has thrown for 4704 yards and 29 touchdowns in two seasons at Northwestern. Northwestern is poised for a huge year to come.
Akrum Wadley (RB/Iowa)
Akrum Wadley is coming off of his first season as the featured back in Kirk Ferentz’s offense at Iowa. Wadley scampered for 1081 yards and 10 touchdowns in that season, and will only get better in 2017. As we’ve learned over the years, Iowa rely’s heavily on the running backs to successfully run their ground and pound style every week.
Mike Weber (RB/Ohio State)
The Detroit native Mike Weber is going into his Sophomore season with the Buckeyes. Like Carlos Hyde, and Ezekiel Elliott before him, Weber is ready to explode in this Urban Meyer offense. Weber shows some of the same characteristics as Hyde and Elliott before him, but still needs to improve to get to their level.
The Big Ten is ready to have another electrifying season, and these guy’s are ready to do their part in making that happen.