July 8, 2014 10:08:34 AM
Three Mississippi State and two Ole Miss football players earned watch list recognition from three national individual college football awards, the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) announced Monday.
MSU junior quarterback Dak Prescott and Ole Miss senior quarterback Bo Wallace are up for the Maxwell Award, which is presented annually to America's College Player of the Year since 1937.
MSU junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney and Ole Miss senior free safety Cody Prewitt were named candidates for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is awarded to college football's National Defensive Player of the Year.
MSU senior wide receiver Jameon Lewis was named to the watch list for the Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse. It goes annually to college football's most versatile player.
Prescott heads into his junior campaign as one of the nation's top dual-threat quarterbacks. He shattered the MSU single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback last season while throwing for 1,940 yards and 10 touchdowns. He leads all returning Southeastern Conference quarterbacks in career rushing yards (947) and career rushing scores (17).
Wallace, entering his third season as the Rebels' starting quarterback, makes the Maxwell Award watch list for the second-straight year. The Pulaski, Tennessee, native who has claimed bowl game MVP honors each of the past two seasons has also been named preseason All-SEC by Phil Steele, Athlon and Lindy's. He enters his senior year ranked second in school history in total offense (7,085 yards) and passing (6,340 yards) and first in passing efficiency (140.2) and completion percentage (64.3).
McKinney, who was also named to FoxSports.com's "Freaks" athlete list on Monday, is MSU's leading returning tackler after racking up 71 a season ago. ESPN.com recently ranked the 6-foot-5 McKinney the top linebacker in the SEC for the upcoming season.
Prewitt earned first-team All-America honors as a free safety last year when he led the SEC and ranked among the nation's leaders with six interceptions. Many of the preseason college football magazines have projected the Bay Springs native to repeat as an All-American in 2014. He was also a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive back.
Lewis' versatility will once again be on display this season. He is the SEC's leading returning receiver after making 64 receptions for 923 yards last season. He also averaged 23.5 yards per kick return, a mark that ranked fifth in the league. Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced Nov. 3, while the three finalists for those awards will be unveiled Nov. 24. The winners of the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 11 at Walt Disney World.
The MSU and Ole Miss players weren't the only players from the SEC recognized.
Arkansas running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams were named to watch list for the Maxwell Award. Last season, Collins was named SEC freshman of the year. He finished the season with 1,026 yards on 190 carries with four touchdowns. Williams finished last season with 900 rushing yards and four touchdowns, also adding seven receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers and Kentucky senior defensive end Alvin "Bud" DuPree were named to the watch list for the Bednarik Award. Flowers was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2013 after recording 44 tackles, with five quarterback sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception and two pass breakups. DuPree, a second-team All-SEC pick by The Associated Press last season, led Wildcats with seven sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss as a junior. He led SEC defensive linemen with 61 tackles and ranked sixth in sacks.