As of this writing, five Iowa football players have been named to preseason watchlists:
Alaric Jackson is tabbed as a preseason all-American and first team all-conference nod by Athlon sports, while Tristan Wirfs garnered second-team honors from the same publication. Ihmir Smith-Marsette was named as a preseason first-teamer as a return specialists.
Nate Stanley is on two lists: he’s one of 30 quarterbacks on the Davey O’Brien Award watchlist, given to the nation’s best quarterback. He’s also on the Maxwell Award watchlist, given to the best overall player in the country.
AJ Epenesa is just about everywhere. Most notably the Chuck Bednarik Award watchlist, given to the best defensive player in the country. He’s also a preseason first-teamer conference player and all-American just about everywhere, and is on the Lott IMPACT Trophy watchlist, an award that Iowa’s own Josey Jewell won back in 2017.
Per the website, the award takes skill AND character into account when deciding a winner. Kentucky’s Josh Allen won it in 2018, and Michigan’s Jabril Peppers took the hardware in 2016.
For shits and gigs, here are the last five winners of the Bednarik:
Whatever happened to Scooby?
Here are the last five winners of the Maxwell:
Basically, if Nate Stanley is even a finalist for this, Iowa’s in for something pretty special.
Kyler Murray, Mayfield, Deshaun Watson and Mariota won the O’Brien the past five years, so the same could be said of that award, too.
I bet there will be more watchlists coming. Geno Stone where you at?