Former Autauga Academy star Howard named to Maxwell list
O.J. Howard was among eight in-state players named to the first preseason watch lists released on Tuesday by the Maxwell Football Club.
The former Autauga Academy standout, along with teammate Calvin Ridley, were two of the nine Southeastern Conference players on the preseason list for the 80th annual Maxwell Award, presented to the nation’s top collegiate player since 1937.
Former Crimson Tide tailback Derrick Henry captured the 2015 Maxwell Award.
Howard, one of 40 seniors on the watch list, earned offensive Most Valuable Player honors in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game last January against Clemson.
Ridley, one of 15 sophomores on the preseason list, led the Tide in receiving last year.
Other SEC players on the list include Georgia tailback Nick Chubb, Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs and tailback Jalen Hurd, LSU tailback Leonard Fournette, Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly and Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight (a transfer from Oklahoma) and receiver Christian Kirk.
Also on the list is Appalachian State tailback Marcus Cox, who led his team to its first bowl appearance and a victory over Ohio in the Camellia Bowl, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the process.
Four Alabama players and a pair of Auburn players are among the 90 players on the 22nd annual Bednarik Award, presented to the nation’s top defensive player since 1995.
Alabama was the only school with four selections, led by senior safety Eddie Jackson, the defensive Most Valuable Player in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Fellow senior Jonathan Allen, a defensive lineman, and linebackers Reuben Foster and Tim Williams also made the list.
Auburn senior defensive back Johnathan Ford and junior defensive end Carl Lawson made the list as well, along with 18 other SEC players that make up a group of 53 seniors, 33 juniors and four sophomores.
Tyler Matakevich of Temple won the Bednarik Award in 2015.
Other SEC players on the list include safety Jamal Adams, cornerback Tre’Darious White and linebacker Kendell Beckwith of LSU; defensive end Derek Barnett, linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and cornerback Cameron Sutton of Tennessee; Georgia safety Dominick Sanders; safety Tony Conner and defensive end Marquis Haynes of Ole Miss; Arkansas defensive end Deatrich Wise; linebacker Jarrad Davis, safety Marcus Maye and cornerback Jalen Tabor of Florida; Missouri defensive end Charles Harris; defensive ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall of Texas A&M, along with safety Armani Watts; and Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham.
The Maxwell and Bednarik awards are the first of a 12-day slate of preseason watch lists released by the National College Football Awards Association. On Wednesday, Howard is expected to be among those on the Mackey Award watch list as the nation’s top collegiate tight end. The watch list for the Rimington Trophy will be released as well.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards will be announced Oct. 31, 2016, while the three finalists for each award will be unveiled Nov. 21. The winners will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 8.