Four get early attention
UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State football had total of four players on the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award and the Bednarik Award, which were revealed Monday.
Junior running back Saquon Barkley and junior quarterback Trace McSorley are among the candidates for the Maxwell Award for the National Player of the Year, while senior safety Marcus Allen and senior linebacker Jason Cabinda are nominees for the Bednarik Award for the National Defensive Player of the Year.
Penn State is tied for the national lead among all colleges and universities with its seven Maxwell Award winners. The Nittany Lions’ four Bednarik Award recipients are the most of any school in the nation.
The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. Maxwell, has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell’s contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official.
The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995. Chuck Bednarik, former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame
Barkley is a preseason first-team All-American for Sporting News, Lindy’s and Athlon Sports. Additionally, he was named the No. 5 player in FBS by SI.com and earned the No. 1 spot on Sports Illustrated’s “Feldman’s Freaks” list heading into the 2017 campaign. Barkley was stellar in 2016, claiming Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year and the Chicago Tribune Silver Football for the Big Ten’s best player last season.
Barkley was named to the All-Big Ten first team by the coaches and media, which made him a unanimous first team choice. Barkley led the Big Ten and was fifth in the FBS in total touchdowns (22) and was tops in the conference and 21st nationally in all-purpose yards (140.86 ypg).
His 1,496 yards in 2016 broke the Penn State sophomore season record and rank fifth on the single-season charts. Barkley heads into his junior season 12th on Penn State’s career rushing yardage list (2,572) and 10th in career rushing touchdowns (25). Just the eighth player in program history to have multiple 1,000-yard seasons, Barkley had a streak of 14 consecutive games with at least one rush of 20 yards snapped at Rutgers, a streak that was the second-longest in college football in the last 20 years.
McSorley was also a second-team All-Big Ten choice by the conference’s coaches and media, while also being named the Big Ten’s Breakout Player of the Year by Athlon Sports and the Maxwell Football Club’s Bryan Westbrook Tri-State Player of the Year. He earned the Grange-Griffin Most Valuable Player award as MVP of the Big Ten Championship game after throwing for a Big Ten Championship game-record 384 yards and four touchdowns. McSorley turned in one of the top quarterback campaigns in program history, breaking the Penn State season record for passing yards (3,614), passing touchdowns (29) and total offense records (3,979). McSorley threw TD passes to 10 different receivers, marking the first time since 1971 a Penn State quarterback found 10-plus pass catchers for scores. He has thrown a touchdown in a school-record 15 consecutive games.
Allen, who is also on the 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list, was selected third-team All-Big Ten by the conference’s coaches and honorable mention by the media panel last season. He made a team- and career-high 110 tackles on the season to become the first Penn State safety to lead the team in tackles since Shawn Mayer (144) in 2002.
Cabinda also earned a spot on the 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list. A 2017 team captain, Cabinda garnered third-team All-Big Ten accolades from the conference coaches, despite missing five games due to injury. He posted eight tackles or more in all nine games he played in last season.