With the doldrums of summer upon us, the countless award watch lists are one of the few bright spots in an otherwise uneventful period. While there are seemingly awards for everything these days, those belonging to the National College Football Awards Association are unquestionably the most prestigious. The Rimington, Outland, Nagurski, Mackey, Bednarik, Maxwell fall under the umbrella of the NCFAA and six Iowa Hawkeyes were fortunate enough to be named to those trophy watch lists.
Junior center Sean Welsh was named to the Rimington Trophy watch list, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding center in NCAA Division I football. The trophy has been awarded since 2000 and is named for Dave Rimington, an outstanding center who once played for the artist formerly known as Nebraska football.
Oddly enough, Welsh has never actually started a game for Iowa at center. After redshirting in 2013, Welsh saw seven starts at right guard and two starts at left guard and was named a first-team All-Big Ten freshman. In 2015 he spent 12 games at left guard and started at right tackle against Northwestern and Stanford. Welsh is expected to take over snapping duties this fall, despite the spring depth chart saying otherwise.
Senior tight end George Kittle was named to the John Mackey Award watch list, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding tight end in NCAA Division I football. Handed out since 2000, the only Hawkeye to previously win the award was Dallas Clark in 2002.
Last season Kittle saw time in all 14 games, recording six starts in a timeshare with the now graduated Henry Krieger-Coble. Staying under the radar early on in the non-conference slate, Kittle broke out against North Texas with 62 yards (on only two catches) and a touchdown. Despite having only one game where he recorded more than two receptions, Kittle became a dependable scoring threat for C.J. Beathard and finished the season with six touchdowns. There was also this highlight against Maryland:
Kittle finished the season with 20 receptions, 290 yards (14.5 YPC) and six touchdowns.
Senior defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson was named to the Outland Trophy watch list, which is awarded to the nation's most outstanding interior lineman by the FWAA. Johnson started all 14 games last season for the Hawkeyes and was a formidable presence on the inside, finishing the year with 45 tackles, 5.5 TFL and four sacks. He received honorable mention All-Big Ten by league coaches and media. Previous Iowa Outland Trophy winners include Cal Jones, Alex Karras, Robert Gallery and Brandon Scherff.
Senior cornerback Desmond King was named to the Bednarik Award watch list and the Nagurski Trophy watch list. Both the Bednarik and the Nagurski are awarded to the best defensive player in college football. Seeing as how you apparently cannot win the Jim Thorpe Award twice, the Maxwell Football Club took it up a notch and tabbed King as the potential defensive player of the year. King's accolades from last season were aplenty: Unanimous consensus All-American, Thorpe Award, Jack Tatum Award, Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, first team All-Big Ten and a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. He tied Nile Kinnick's single-season interception record with eight and finished second in the nation overall. If you need more here's a nice video with some awesome glowstick music:
Junior linebacker Josey Jewell was also named to the Nagurski Trophy watch list. Jewell started all 14 games for Iowa at middle linebacker last season and recorded 126 tackles, 7.5 TFL and four interceptions. He was named a permanent team captain on defense, given the "Extra Heartbeat" Award, the Players Choice Award, the Team Hustle Award (we get it, he has a high motor), Academic All-Big Ten and second team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. A Hawkeye has never won the trophy.
Senior quarterback C.J. Beathard, our savior, was named to the Maxwell Trophy watch list, which is awarded to the best player in college football. Nile Kinnick won the award. Chuck Long won the award. It only seems fitting that Beathard would be in consideration as he epitomizes everything that is great about our beloved football program (and America in general). Nagged by a groin injury last season, Beathard still managed to throw for 2,800 yards and score a combined 23 touchdowns. He also provided us with this beautiful moment:
We shall not speak of the rest of the game.