Five OU players made the two lists, including three up for the 76th annual Maxwell Award and a pair on there for the 18th annual Bednarik Award.
Quarterback Landry Jones, wide receiver Kenny Stills and former walk-on running back Dominique Whaley were all named to the Maxwell Award watch list given to the nation’s most outstanding player, while field cornerback Demontre Hurst and free safety Tony Jefferson got the nod for players under consideration for the Bednarik, awarded to the nation’s top defensive player.
The Sooners’ three selections for the Maxwell Award makes it one of just four programs in the country and the only one in the Big 12 Conference with at least three selections.
Jones, the newlywed signal caller who returns for his senior season after throwing for 12,379 yards and 93 touchdowns in his first three, joins Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and USC’s Matt Barkley and Robert Woods as the only 2011 Maxwell Award Semifinalists on the preseason watch list.
He enters the season tied with OU running backs coach Cale Gundy for the most career starts by a quarterback at 37 and sits just three victories shy of Steve Davis (1973-75) for the OU career wins record of 32 victories.
Stills prepares for his third season on collegiate ball after hauling in 61 receptions in each of his first two seasons, including eight touchdowns and 849 yards during the 2011 campaign, which ranks 11th all time.
Whaley returns coming off a broken ankle in a 58-17 win over Kansas State a year ago, and he finished the year with 627 yards and nine touchdowns on 113 rushes.
On the other side of the ball, Hurst is coming off a second-team All-Big 12 season in which he recorded 11 pass breakups and 55 tackles.
Jefferson, who made the shift to free under new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops after working at nickel for Brent Venables, led the team last year with four interceptions, including a single-game record three against Ball State.
Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced October 29, and the three finalists for each award will be unveiled November 19.
The winners of the 2011 Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show held December 6.
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 1, 2013.
The watch list candidates have been chosen by the Maxwell Football Club’s selection committee, evaluating past performance and future potential.
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