There was nothing shocking about the players included on the 2012 preseason watch lists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards, which were both released by the Maxwell Football Club on Monday morning.
However, there was one exclusion that left me baffled.
Among the 65 athletes in early discussions for the Maxwell Award, annually given to “America’s outstanding college football player,” were Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Eddie Lacy, as well as Auburn’s Onterio McCalebb. Those three deserve to be contenders, as do top-notch athletes like Tyler Wilson, Aaron Murray, Tyler Bray, Denard Robinson, Montee Ball and Matt Barkley.
No arguments outta me there. Not concerning the Maxwell Award at least.
But let’s move on to the Bednarik Award, which is presented to the nation’s top defensive player.
One quick glance at the preseason watch list didn’t produce any shockers.
As expected, the country’s top two defenses — Alabama and LSU — were represented with four players apiece. Nico Johnson, Robert Lester, C.J. Mosley and Jesse Williams made it from the Tide, while Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Eric Reid and Tyrann Mathieu, last year’s Bednarik winner, are Tigers in the hunt.
Seven other players from the Southeastern Conference were mentioned — two each from South Carolina and Georgia, and one apiece from Florida, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
That means no one from Auburn was deemed worthy enough for the list, and that’s where my problem lies. Yes, the Tigers defense was atrocious in 2011, but that shouldn’t have detracted from Corey Lemonier’s breakout sophomore campaign.
Call me crazy, but 13 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and 9.5 sacks — Auburn only had 22 — should’ve been more than enough to prove the defensive end is capable of being one of the most explosive pass rushers in all of college football.
Of course, these are just preseason lists. They’ll be modified and tinkered with as the college football season plays out. The eventual winner will be named on Dec. 6, a long ways down the road but definitely closer than one might think.
If Lemonier even slightly cares about preseason watch lists, he can use the snub as motivation to be even better in 2012 and show the Maxwell Football Club voters they made an obvious mistake. For all I know, his numbers this season could go downhill, proving me wrong.
We can sit here and debate how good Lemonier will be up until the Tigers take the field against Clemson in the Georgia Dome on Sept. 1, but he should’ve at least been in the preseason mix for the Bednarik Award.
There’s no arguing that.
‰ Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.