The 2016 season is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start previewing players who could be in the discussion for college football’s most prestigious awards when the season is all said and done.
The preseason watch list for the Walter Camp Award (given to the collegiate football player of the year by the NCAA coaches and sports information directors) was revealed on Friday and plenty of Big Ten players made the list.
Here’s a look at the Big Ten players who were named to the Walter Camp Award preseason watch list, along with a preview of what to expect from them this season.
J.T. Barrett, quarterback, Ohio State: It’s finally Barrett’s time to shine in Columbus, Ohio after competing with Cardale Jones last season. The dual-threat quarterback will have to lead a Buckeyes offense that lost some serious star power from last season. Barrett has also been named to the Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award watch lists.
C.J. Beathard, quarterback, Iowa: Beathard played a supporting role behind Iowa’s powerful running game last season. He could assume a featured role in the offense this season. In fact, his offensive coordinator gave him some serious praise earlier in the summer. He is also on the Maxwell Award and O’Brien Award watch lists.
Justin Jackson, running back, Northwestern: Jackson practically carried Northwestern’s offense last season, finishing second in the Big Ten with 1,418 rushing yards. Jackson will likely be the focal point of the Wildcats offense once again and could break the 1,500-yard plateau this season. Jackson was also named to the Maxwell Award watch list.
Desmond King, cornerback, Iowa: King is one of the best cornerbacks in the country. He recorded 72 tackles, picked off eight passes and broke up another 13 throws last season. He’s a shutdown corner with enough talent to make a run at several awards. He was also named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list. He was also last year’s winner Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s best defensive back and will get a chance to defend his honor.
Jourdan Lewis, cornerback, Michigan: Lewis is a lockdown cornerback whom opponents better be careful when targeting. Lewis broke up 20 passes last season with two interceptions. He should give King a run for his money as the conference’s best cover corner. Lewis also appeared on the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award watch lists.
Raekwon McMillan, linebacker, Ohio State: McMillan should be in the running for this award until the very end. He recorded 119 tackles, four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks last season. But with an abundance of Ohio State’s defensive talent moving on, McMillan is now the face of the unit. McMillan has also been named to the Butkus Award, Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy watch lists.
Jabrill Peppers, safety, Michigan: The versatile defender should play more of a linebacking role in Michigan’s remodeled defense. There aren’t many things Peppers can’t do. He 45 tackles and broke up 10 passes last season, but his defensive upside might be limited depending on how much offense he plays this season. His versatility has helped him land on the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy watch lists.
Anthony Walker, linebacker, Northwestern: He might get no love because of who he plays for, but Walker should not be underestimated as one of the country’s best defenders. He recorded 120 tackles and led the Big Ten with 20.5 tackles for loss last season. This is Walker’s fourth watch list, adding to appearances on the Bednarik Award, Butkus Award and Nagurski Trophy lists.