BY AARON BRENNER | firstname.lastname@example.org
CLEMSON — Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins acknowledged as two of the best players in college football isn’t much of a surprise.
Vic Beasley on the national radar is.
With 76 players named to the Maxwell Football Club’s Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List, Boyd and Watkins have plenty of company.
Both the quarterback and wide receiver were on the 2012 preseason list, along with departed wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back Andre Ellington. Boyd is one of six 2012 Maxwell semifinalists back on the 2013 list, joined by three quarterbacks (Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller), Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee.
Boyd is the reigning ACC Player of the Year, and Watkins was national freshman of the year in 2011 before a relative sophomore slump last year.
Defending national champion Alabama has four players on the list: McCarron, tailback T.J. Yeldon, receiver Amari Cooper and linebacker C.J. Mosley. Texas A&M and Arizona State each have three representatives; Clemson is one of 13 schools with two players on the radar, joined in the ACC only by Miami (QB Stephen Morris, RB Duke Johnson.)
The ACC has eight players on the list; joining the Clemson and Miami representatives are Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs, North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner, Syracuse tailback Jerome Smith and Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas.
The SEC’s 16 representatives narrowly edged the Pac-12′s 15 to lead the nation.
Mid-majors are finding their diamonds in the rough earning more preseason recognition, with 18 players from non-automatic BCS qualifiers getting some love.
Beasley is a breakout candidate, one of ten ACC players on the Bednarik Watch List. The Tigers’ junior defensive end led the team last year with eight sacks, ranking fourth in the league.
2012 ACC Champion Florida State has three Bednarik candidates, but no Maxwell profiles.