In one of the surest signs that the college football season is quickly — or not so quickly, depending on your level of anticipation — gaining on us, one of the most prestigious awards in the game has released its 2011 watch list.
The Maxwell Football Club announced Tuesday morning the 66-person-strong watch list for the 75th edition of the Maxwell Award. Not included in that list is last year’s winner Cam Newton, who left Auburn a year early and ultimately become the number one-overall pick in the April NFL draft.
There are, however, returning semifinalists for the 2010 award, including Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles, Baylor QB Robert Griffin, Oregon RB LaMichael James, Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, Boise State QB Kellen Moore, and Michigan QB Denard Robinson.
Conference-wise, the SEC tops all leagues with 12 players on the list, followed closely by the Pac-12 (11) and the Big Ten (10). The Big 12 was next with eight, followed by the ACC and Mountain West with six and five players, respectively.
Both the Big East and Conference USA totaled four players apiece. Incidentally, the former receives an automatic BcS bid while the latter, as well as the MWC, doesn’t.
The Maxwell Award has been given to America’s outstanding collegiate football player since 1937 and is named in honor of sportswriter Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell. Semifinalists for the Maxwell Award will be announced Oct. 31 and the three finalists will be unveiled Nov. 21. The winner will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 8th.
Here’s the complete watch list courtesy of the Maxwell Football Club: