Clayton Thorson, Paddy Fisher, and Joe Gaziano received some preseason recognition as each Wildcat was named to the watch list for a couple prestigious college football awards.
Thorson was named to the Maxwell Award watch list. The Maxwell Award honors the best all-around player in college football. Thorson was one of 41 (!) quarterbacks on the watch list. Trace McSorley, Brian Lewerke, Shea Patterson, and Nate Stanley were also named to the watch list, which gives you an idea of how voters see Thorson slotting in among Big Ten quarterbacks. Penn State running back Larry Johnson was the last Maxwell Award winner from the Big Ten in 2002.
In 2017, Thorson and Justin Jackson were named to the Maxwell Award watch list before the season.
Gaziano and Fisher earned nods on the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list. The Bednarik Award goes to the best defensive player in the country.
Fisher was one of two sophomores named to the watch list following a standout freshman campaign where he led all FBS first-year players in tackles and was named Big Ten Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.
Gaziano will try to build on a sophomore campaign where he led the Big Ten with eight regular season sacks. The redshirt junior also knocked down five passes and forced four fumbles.
Preseason watch lists don’t mean much; it seems like nearly every Power 5 team is represented, but it’s nice to see Northwestern’s standout players earn some national recognition.
Plus, watch lists are a surefire sign football isn’t too far away.