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The national media recognizes Iowa’s biggest playmakers before the season starts

Michigan v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The national media reminded us this morning that Iowa has one game-changing player on each side of the ball by way of naming Akrum Wadley to the Maxwell Award watch list and Josey Jewell to the Bednarik Award watch list.

The Bednarik Award is given to the nation’s best defensive player, while the Maxwell Award is given to college football’s best overall player at the conclusion of the season. It’s basically the Heisman, but some think it has a little more credibility since media members, coaches and members of the Maxwell club do the voting for the Award instead of past winners and fans for the Heisman.

Two former Hawkeye players have a Maxwell Award in their trophy cases. Nile Kinnick won it in 1939 (the same year he won the Heisman) while Chuck Long won it in 1985.

Jewell was a finalist for the Butkus Award (best linebacker) last season, so it’s no surprise he’s on the list for Bednarik. Desmond King was named to the preseason list for the Bednarik last year, but no Iowa player has been given the trophy in its 22-year history.

These preseason Award lists are obviously smoke and mirrorsy since no one has played a snap yet, but those who helm the Bednarik and Maxwell foundations are giving Big Ten players a lot of love. Eleven Big Ten players were named to the Maxwell watch list, while 15 are on the Bednarik watch list.

  • Penn State: RB Saquon Barkley, QB Trace McSorley.
  • Ohio State: QB J.T. Barrett, RB Mike Weber.
  • Northwestern: RB Justin Jackson, QB Clayton Thorson.
  • Rutgers: WR Janarion Grant.
  • Michigan State: RB LJ Scott.
  • Minnesota: RB Rodney Smith.
  • Michigan: QB Wilton Speight.
  • Iowa: RB Akrum Wadley.

Those are some pretty good players, but I’ll take Wadley over all of ‘em. Here’s the full Maxwell preseason watch list:

As for the other B1G defenders on the Bednarik watch list ... I’ll take Jewell over all of those guys, too:

  • Penn State: S Marcus Allen, LB Jason Cabinda.
  • Ohio State: LB Jerome Baker, DE Nick Bosa, DE Tyquan Lewis, CB Denzel Ward.
  • Minnesota: DE Steve Richardson.
  • Wisconsin: DT Conor Sheehy, LB Jack Cichy.
  • Michigan: DE Rashan Gary, DT Maurice Hurst.
  • Maryland: LB Jermaine Carter.
  • Indiana: LB Tegray Scales.
  • Northwestern: S Godwin Igwebuike.
  • Iowa: LB Josey Jewell.

We don’t expect the preseason hype for Iowa players to end here.