Indiana players eye trophies in 2016

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

College football is upon us. That means most of the coveted award watch lists in the country are beginning to surface. The Hoosiers have a handful of players being named to these watch lists, which is impressive for an up and coming program. These award watch lists, revealed by each individual association, are compiled of all of the best players at a specific position.

Watch lists can have as many as 90 players on them, such as the Maxwell Award, or as little as 30 players, like the Lou Groza Award. These lists are similar to the Wooden Award, which goes to college basketball’s best player, and is released before the basketball season begins. The lists each get trimmed down to semifinalist on October 31, then to three finalists on November 21, and winners are announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards show in Atlanta in December. Seven Hoosiers are on watch lists for the upcoming season, let’s take a look at some of the awards and talented players.

Maxwell Award

The Maxwell Award, voted by a panel of sportscasters, writers, and coaches, goes to America’s College Player of the Year and is celebrating its 80th annual award. Simmie Cobbs Jr. has been named to this prestigious watch list, along with 89 of the other best players in the country. The only award more illustrious than the Maxwell is the Heisman trophy, annually given to the best player in the country. Cobbs Jr. is one of only three wide receivers on the watch list, giving him high praise for the upcoming season.

Maxwell and Biletnikoff award nominee, Simmie Cobbs. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Maxwell and Biletnikoff award nominee, Simmie Cobbs. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

During his Sophomore season, Cobbs Jr. averaged 18.1 yards per catch and 79.6 yards per game, making him 3rd in the Big Ten in receiving. Cobbs Jr. is also coming off a 1,000 yard receiving campaign in his Sophomore season, garnering much recognition from the rest of the country. College Football guru, Phil Steele, has named Cobbs Jr. to the preseason first team all Big Ten. Some of the past winners to hoist the trophy are Derrick Henry (Alabama), and Marcus Mariota (Oregon), both won the Heisman in the same season. There are also plenty of talented players on the Maxwell watch list, including some of the Heisman finalists from last season, Deshaun Watson (Clemson), Leonard Fournette (LSU), and Christian McCaffrey (Stanford).

Outland Trophy 

The Outland trophy is awarded to the best lineman in college football, both on offensive and defensive sides of the ball. It comes as no surprise that Dan Feeney has been named to this watch list for the second consecutive season. The fifth-year senior decided to come back to finish his final season in Bloomington when most were pegging him as a first round selection in the NFL draft.

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Feeney’s recognition is well deserved, as he has only allowed one sack in 2,719 snaps during his past two seasons with the Hoosiers. The watch list now sits at 70 players, however it will be trimmed down to semifinalists and finalists as the season progresses. Feeney holds many other honors coming into next season after his All-American Junior year. Every site has appointed Feeney as a 1st Team All-American and 1st Team All-Big with great acclaim. However, these accolades aren’t the most impressive honor Dan Feeney has earned this preseason. Phil Steele, Lindy’s and USA Today have all declared Feeney as the #1 offensive guard in the entire nation. Look for Feeney to have a legitimate chance of taking home the Outland trophy come December.

Biletnikoff Award

This award recognizes the top wide receiver in the country, there are 53 players nominated for this seasons watch list. The list includes talented receivers that squared off in the National Championship last season, Calvin Ridley (Alabama), Artavis Scott (Clemson). Hoosier wideouts Simmie Cobbs and Ricky Jones have both been named to this distinguished list.

Jones made the list for the second straight year after finishing last season just shy of 1,000 yards. Ricky was the Hoosiers deep threat during the beginning of the season, hauling in 71 and 57 yarders against Southern Illinois. Previous award winners include NFL speedsters, Amari Cooper (Alabama/Oakland Raiders) and Brandin Cooks (Oregon State/New Orleans Saints).

Doak Walker Award 

Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Doak Walker Award annually goes to the nations top running back, and this year the watch list includes 81 of the best backs in the nation. Indiana’s Devine Redding has made the list after rushing for over 1,000 yards last season. Devine played alongside Jordan Howard, who has declared to enter the draft early and is currently vying for the starting running back position for the Chicago Bears. Redding averaged 4.5 yards per carry along with 9 touchdowns. These numbers are fairly impressive as he split time with Jordan Howard last season and took over for him during his injury plagued year. Another preseason accolade for Redding includes a 3rd Team All-Big Ten selection by Phil Steele and Athlon sports. You might recall a former Hoosier running back that came in 3rd place for the Doak Walker Award in 2014 behind Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman. This is a very talented watch list as it also includes Heisman hopefuls, Leonard Fournette (LSU), and Dalvin Cook (Florida State).

Lou Groza Award

Recognizing the nations top kicker, the Lou Groza Award is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Last seasons award winner, Ka’imi Fairbairn (UCLA) has moved onto the NFL with the Houston Texans and the award is up for grabs. Indiana’s talented young placekicker Griffin Oakes has landed on the 2016 watch list. Oakes converted on 24 of 29 field goals to go along with 53 of 57 extra points, he will need to clean up his extra points this season to have a chance at that award. Griffin also has other recognitions coming into his Junior season, he has been named to the 1st Team All-Big Ten and been recognized as the #6 kicker in the nation, according to Lindy’s. Perhaps the most selective award list of all, the Lou Groza Award, only has 30 players on its watch list, giving Oakes a genuine chance of hoisting the award at the Home Depot College Football Awards. #Griffmadeit

Wuerffel Trophy

Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

Known as the trophy for “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service”, the Wuerffel trophy is one of the most respected in all of the country. It is awarded to the player that combines community service, along with academic and athletic achievements throughout his college career. The list is pretty immense at 88 players, but we are fortunate enough to have one of our Hoosiers on there, senior wide receiver Mitchell Paige.

Paige led the Hoosiers with six touchdowns last season and averaged 52.6 yards per game. Paige’s glory has been unprecedented as he walked onto the Hoosiers football program his Freshman season. Nobody thought anything would come of the 5’7 180lb slot receiver, but he has quietly become one of Indiana’s most influential players. Paige has been extremely active in the Bloomington community, volunteering at local elementary schools and working with the Monroe country youth football program.


The many Indiana players that made preseason award lists shows that the program is on the rise. The Hoosiers are building off a six win season, including a bowl game appearance for the first time since 2007. Indiana was one of the most exciting teams to watch in the country because despite an average record, kept up with some of the nation’s best in games like the Ohio State and Michigan nail biters. Coach Wilson said that they have to make the next step in the process and go from a team that’s exciting, to a team that can consistently win games. They have the talent, and now they have the postseason experience. This year could see Indiana emerge as a Big Ten power.