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The Maxwell Football Club announced on Tuesday the three finalists for the Maxwell Award and four finalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award.
The prestigious honors recognize the best in college football, with the Maxwell Award going to the nation’s top player and the Chuck Bednarik Award for the top defensive player.
A season ago, the Maxwell Award went to, not surprisingly, DeVonta Smith of Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s wide receiver, a first round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, became the third straight SEC player to win the award following Tua Tagovailoia (Alabama) in 2018 and Joe Burrow (LSU) in 2019. Smith broke a stretch of four straight quarterbacks winning the award.
Zaven Collins from Tulsa received the Chuck Bednarik Award following a season where he had 54 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks and four interceptions.
Traditionally, the award recipients are honored at a gala event in March at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Maxwell Award Finalist: Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh)
Nov 11, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) looks to pass against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pickett is shattering all types of records at Pittsburgh in a senior season where he has thrown for 3,856 yards with 36 touchdowns and six interceptions. Pittsburgh, No. 18 in the most recent College Football Playoff Ranking, has seen Pickett elevate his game this season to the point where he might well be the first quarterback taken in next spring’s NFL draft.
Maxwell Award Finalist: Kennth Walker III (Michigan State)
Oct 9, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back Kenneth Walker III (9) carries the ball past Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive lineman Ifeanyi Maijeh (88) during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Few players let alone running backs have had the impact of Walker on their program this year. With 1,498 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns, Walker has been downright dominant for the ranked Spartans. The Wake Forest transfer has topped triple-digit yardage in seven of 11 games this season for Michigan State.
Maxwell Award Finalist: Bryce Young (Alabama)
Nov 20, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) throws against Arkansas at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Another season, another Alabama star being named as a finalist for the Maxwell Award. This is getting redundant…Young, after sitting behind first-round pick Mac Jones last year, Young has been sensational in his first year as the Crimson Tide’s starter. The sophomore has 3,584 passing yards and 38 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
Chuck Bednarik Award Finalist: Will Anderson (Alabama)
Nov 20, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) hits Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) as he tries to run the ball at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
An Alabama player last won the Chuck Bednarik Award in 2017 (Minkah Fitzpatrick) and Anderson certainly has a good claim to win this year. His 13 sacks and 78 total tackles are impressive, showing a linebacker who is more than a pass rush specialist. Only a sophomore, he has been dominant for the Crimson Tide this year.
Chuck Bednarik Award Finalist: Jordan Davis (Georgia)
Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) kneels before the start of a NCAA college football game between Charleston Southern and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.
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Few players have been as dominant this year as the Georgia defensive tackle, who has been disruptive for the No. 1 team in the nation. Despite his position not being lent towards gaudy stats, Davis has 23 tackles and two sacks despite facing double-teams in the interior. A complete defensive tackle who knows and understands his gap assignments well.
Chuck Bednarik Award Finalist: Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame)
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton (14) intercepts a pass intended for Purdue tight end Payne Durham (87) in the end zone during the fourth quarter of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.
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Hamilton is the prototype at his position, covering ground in pass coverage but able to step up and help in the run defense. He has three interceptions and seven passes defended to go along with 35 total tackles. At 6-foot-4, he is the new breed of tall, rangy safety prospects that NFL teams love.
Chuck Bednarik Award Finalist: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)
Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, left, bears down on Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura during the first half. Eug 111321 Uombb 26
Registering 41 total tackles and six sacks as well as two forced fumbles, Thibodeaux has been dominant for an Oregon program that has pent much of the season ranked in the top 10. Thibodeaux has solidified himself as a Day 1 pick with his dominance off the edge.