Strong Start

It's "pre-season watch list" week, as the first two of 15 preliminary lists for major college football awards are released. West Virginia is well-represented on Day One with a total of three players on the Maxwell and Bednarik Award pre-season lists.

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is one of 66 players on the Maxwell Award watch list. The Maxwell Award, presented to America's outstanding collegiate football player by the Maxwell Club, has been awarded since 1937 and is named in honor of sportswriter Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell.

Joining Smith on the list from the Big East conference are Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros and running back Isaiah Pead, and Pitt running back Ray Graham.

WVU has two representatives on the Bednarik Award watch list, coming from opposite levels of the defense. Defensive end Bruce Irvin and cornerback Keith Tandy, returning starters from WVU's third-ranked defense of a year ago, represent the Mountaineers in the early running.

The Bednarik Award has been presented to the nation's top defensive player since 1995. A former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, Chuck Bednarik is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of '69 and the NFL Hall of Fame's Class of '67.

Other Big East performers on the Bednarik Award watch list are Pittsburgh linebacker Brandon Lindsey, Connecticut linebacker Kendall Reyes.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced October 31st and the three finalists for each award will be unveiled November 21st. The winners of the 2011 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show held on December 8th. The formal presentation of these awards will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Harrah's Entertainment Atlantic City on March 2nd 2012.

The watch list candidates have been chosen by the Maxwell Football Club's selection committee, evaluating past performance and future potential. The Club reserves the right to make additions and deletions to these lists as the 2011 season unfolds. All members of the Maxwell Football Club, NCAA sports information directors, head coaches, and selected national media are eligible to vote for the awards.

Geno Smith

Bruce Irvin

Keith Tandy

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