With football season fast approaching, watch lists have been curated to highlight players with the potential to be the best at their respective position in 2017. Those lists have included a host of South Carolina’s most talented players, including quarterback Jake Bentley and linebacker Skai Moore. In case you don’t know what each award means (I even had to google what the Wuerffel award was,) we have a tracker here for you!
Davey O’Brien Award: Jake Bentley
This award is given to the nation’s best quarterback, and it should come as no surprise that Jake Bentley is on the list of 30 players named to the watch list. After taking over mid-season, Bentley provided a consistent and effective presence for most of the season, as seen in the Tennessee game. If Bentley can continue to make strides behind a more experienced offense, he could find himself in the race to win the prestigious award.
Maxwell Award: Jake Bentley, Deebo Samuel
The Maxwell Award goes to the “all-around best player in college football.” Deebo Samuel, with his rushing, receiving, and kick-return prowess, will have a featured and diverse role in the offense this season barring injuries. Jake Bentley is building off a promising freshman campaign with a talented offense around him. Both players are in good positions to put up good numbers, and with the benefit of a full season’s worth of stats could push to be a finalist.
Biletnikoff Award: Deebo Samuel
Deebo Samuel has established himself as one of the premier receivers in the SEC, so it makes sense that he is on the watch list for the Biletnikoff award, which goes to the best receiver in the nation. Samuel has the ability to move the ball in a variety of ways, and will certainly be in the running for the award if he plays the way he did in the Birmingham Bowl (14 catches, 190 yards, 1 TD.)
Hornung Award: Deebo Samuel
An award given to the most versatile and high-performing player in college football, it seems like Deebo Samuel was built for the award. As mentioned earlier, Samuel is dangerous any time he has the ball in his hands, whether it is from outside the hashes, in the slot, in the backfield, or when returning kicks. He is an all-purpose yardage machine, similar to past winners like Tavon Austin and Odell Beckham Jr.
Mackey Award: Hayden Hurst
Named after NFL Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey, the award goes to the top tight end in the country. After a productive season despite instability at the QB position for half the year, Hayden Hurst has established himself as arguably the best tight end in the SEC. It will be interesting to see if a full season of catching passes from Jake Bentley will be enough to catapult him into serious consideration for the award.
Rimington Trophy: Alan Knott
Awarded to the best center in college football, Alan Knott is among 70 players on the Watch List. Knott will be expected to hold down the middle of the offensive line in what could be a very good rushing attack, and should be a leader to the younger players on either guard position beside him.
Nagurski and Bednarik Trophy: Skai Moore
Back from injury, Skai Moore is looking to reclaim his spot as one of the best linebackers in the country. Taking home the Bednarik and/or Nagurski trophy, awarded to the best defensive player in college football, will do this. With Moore’s blend of athleticism, instincts, and production, he should be a serious candidate for the award.
Wuerffel Trophy: Antoine Wilder
Awarded to the player "who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement,” Antoine Wilder is on the watch list likely because he was Gamecock Football’s community service player of the year last season. With a record 108 players on the watch list, it’s a good feeling to see that many top players giving back.
Doak Walker Award: Rico Dowdle
Dowdle had a fine season as a freshman and is poised to take the next big step as a sophomore. The Doak Walker Award is given to the top RB in the nation and was first presented in 1990.