The Daily's preseason watch list: Mackey Award, Rimington Trophy
The Daily's Mackey Award watch list
Jacob Peterson, Wisconsin
Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Joseph Fauria, UCLA
The Daily's Rimington Trophy watch list
Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
Ben Habern, Oklahoma
2012 watch lists
The Daily's picks for which players will appear on the following college football preseason watch lists:
• Maxwell Award
• Bednarik Award
• Mackey Award
• Rimington Trophy
• Lou Groza Award
• Ray Guy Award
• Bronko Nagurski Trophy
• Outland Trophy
• Jim Thorpe Award
• Butkus Award
• Rotary Lombardi Award
• Biletnikoff Award
• Davey O'Brien Award
• Doak Walker Award
• Walter Camp Award
Starting July 9, the National College Football Awards Association will start releasing preseason watch lists for its various awards, releasing one or two a day for 10 days.
We here at The Daily are going to release our own watch lists over the next nine days, then compare our picks to the association's.
Today, we are revealing our picks for the Mackey Award, presented to the nation's most outstanding tight end, and the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nation's premier center.
Dillon Phillips, assistant sports editor: Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin
Jacob Pedersen was a second-team All-Big Ten selection and semifinalist for the Mackey Award last year. Although Pedersen caught only 30 passes, almost one-third of those catches were touchdown grabs. Pedersen is an invaluable offensive threat in the red zone and can also make an impact with his hand in the dirt in Wisconsin’s run-heavy system.
Kedric Kitchens, sports editor: Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Tyler Eifert is the best pass-catching tight end in the country. In 2011, Eifert was the second-leading receiver for the Fighting Irish — behind 13th overall NFL Draft pick Michael Floyd — with 63 catches for 803 yards and five touchdowns. Eifert provides little in the ways of pass blocking, but he is an elite receiver in the style of former Mackey Award winners Kellen Winslow or Aaron Hernandez.
Tobi Neidy, senior football writer: Joseph Fauria, UCLA
Notre Dame could have two of the top tight ends in college football right now, but the Fighting Irish let senior Joseph Fauria slip off to join the Bruins in 2009. And so far, Fauria has made a lasting impact for the UCLA offense. The 6-foot-7, 258 pound tight end was second on the team last season with 39 receptions for 481 yards and six scoring receptions, the most scoring receptions for any Bruin player since 2005. Another factor that will make Fauria a player to watch this season is that he will most likely see more playing time with the departure of fellow tight end Cory Harkey to the NFL.
Phillips: Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
Travis Frederick was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season, as he anchored one of the nation’s best offensive lines on a team that finished eighth in the country in rushing. At 6-foot-4, 328 pounds, Frederick has impressive size for an interior lineman, especially at the center position — where mobility and agility are of paramount importance — and looks to play a crucial role in the continuing success of a team know for its smash-mouth, power running game.
Kitchens: Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
The Oregon Ducks were fifth in the nation a year ago in rushing, averaging just under 300 yards per game. That was in large part due to a strong offensive line anchored by then redshirt freshman Hroniss Grasu. Grasu was a second team All-Freshman selection and with the steady stream of incredible runners that are flowing into Oregon, he will have a real chance to impress.
Neidy: Ben Habern, Oklahoma
As the starting center for OU in 14 games during the 2010 season, senior Ben Habern led offensive linemen with 1,070 snaps and 123 knockdowns to become an All-Big 12 honorable mention. Perhaps the only negative about this 6-foot-4, 292 pound senior is his injury record, including two season-ending mishaps during his first two years as a Sooner. But if Habern can stay healthy and continue to perform that the level he did during the 2010 season, look for Habern to be mentioned with the likes of the top centers in the league.