Multiple Cougars recognized by national watch lists
With the college football season just weeks away, anticipation is growing and numerous preseason watch lists are being released for the annual regular season awards.
As of Thursday, five Cougars had been placed on the watch list for eight different awards. Senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. and senior linebacker Steven Taylor each occupy multiple lists.
Senior wide receiver Chance Allen and sophomore center Will Noble are also being recognized at their positions.
Ward’s on-field performance renders him a contender for the Maxwell Player of the Year Award, the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. He will stand out among the field if he can duplicate or improve his 2015 season statistics.
Tallying 21 rushing touchdowns and 17 passing touchdowns last season, the dual-threat quarterback is expected to continue, or even surpass, this level of dominance.
Ward also appears on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list, which highlights players who make significant impacts in their community through service and volunteer efforts. In April, Ward and 13 other players donated their own money to provide water bottles to flood victims in the Greater Houston area.
Defensive leader Taylor finished the 2015 season with 92 total tackles, 10 sacks and two interceptions. His efforts have landed him on the Bednarik Defensive Player of the Year Award and Bronko Nagurski Defensive Standout watch lists.
Taylor will have a heavier workload in 2016, as the Cougars lost defensive staple Elandon Roberts to the NFL Draft.
Senior linebacker Tyus Bowser accompanies Taylor on the Butkus Award watch list, which honors the nation’s top linebacker. Bowser finished the 2015 season with 50 total tackles, five and a half sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
Like Taylor, Bowser’s numbers are expected to increase with Roberts’ absence.
Another impact player from 2015 the Cougars lost was wide receiver Demarcus Ayers, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fortunately, Allen, a 2014 wide receiver transfer from the University of Oregon, is next in line for the lead position.
Allen is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list, which honors the nation’s most outstanding receiver. He is poised for an explosive season and will be a favorite target of Ward.
Allen collected 56 receptions for 752 yards and six touchdowns in the 2015 season. He displayed his big-game potential when he totaled six receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort against the University of Connecticut.
Allen’s two touchdowns in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl helped contribute to the Cougars’ victory on New Year’s Eve.
Sophomore center Noble appeared on the Rimington Trophy watch list last week, which eyes the nation’s best at the position. Noble’s efforts on the offensive line in his first season placed him on the Freshman All-American Team by the Football Writers Association of America.
For each week of the season, the watch lists will get shorter as the players’ performances are reevaluated. With the Cougars looking to continue being champions, these names are a reminder that the nation is paying attention to Houston.