The Maxwell Award is given to the best collegiate player each year while the Bednarik award is for the best defensive player. Notre Dame had three players included across the two watch lists: senior quarterback Everett Golson on the Maxwell Award list and sophomore Jaylon Smith and junior cornerback Keivarae Russell on the Bednarik Award list.
Notre Dame might feel aggrieved to only have 3 players included as many of their opponents this season have more. Heisman Trophy incumbent Jameis Winston is one of six quarterbacks included on the Maxwell Award watch list that Notre Dame will face this season, so Smith and Russell will have plenty of opportunities to justify their watch list inclusion.
And Everett Golson will get a tough reintroduction to college football from many defenses the Irish face, but in particular from Stanford. The Cardinal placed four players included on the Bednarik Award watch list.
The Irish will face 10 teams this season with a player on either list with Stanford and USC both having six included across the two lists:
Rice -- DT Christian Covington (Bednarik Award)
Michigan -- DE Frank Clark, LB Jake Ryan (both Bednarik Award), QB Devin Gardner, WR Devin Funchess (both Maxwell Award). *Of note, former Irish star left tackle Zack Martin offered that Michigan’s Clark was the best player he faced last fall.
North Carolina -- DE Norkeithus Otis (Bednarik Award)
Navy -- QB Keenan Reynolds (Maxwell Award)
Northwestern -- RB Venric Mark (Maxwell Award)
Notre Dame has a rich history with the Maxwell award with six of its players having won it a total of seven times. Recent winners for the Irish include Manti Te’o (2012), who was the first defensive player to win the award since Hugh Green at Pittsburgh in 1980, and Brady Quinn (2006).
Notre Dame’s Johnny Lattner is also one of only two players to win the award multiple times (1952 and 1953) along with Florida’s Tim Tebow (2007 and 2008). Manti Te’o’s Bednarik Award win in 2012 is the only time a Notre Dame player has won the award since its inception in 1995.