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 John Mackey Award (given to the nation’s best tight end) was revealed on Tuesday and plenty of Big Ten players made the list.
Here’s a look at the Big Ten players who were named to each the Mackey Award preseason watch list, along with a preview of what to expect from them this season.
Jake Butt, senior, Michigan: Butt is the best tight end in the Big Ten and should be very much in the running for this award. He caught 51 passes for 654 yards and three touchdowns last during his junior season. He will play a bigger role in Michigan’s offense this season no matter who is under center.
Cethan Carter, senior, Nebraska: Carter is an up-and-coming talent after being named an All-Big Ten honorable mention. He caught 24 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns and will be an underrated asset within Nebraska’s potentially explosive passing game.
Mike Gesicki, junior, Penn State: Gesicki makes this list despite catching only 13 passes last season. His role in the offense should increase as a junior after starting eight games as a sophomore.
George Kittle, senior, Iowa: Kittle led Iowa with six touchdown receptions, despite only starting in six games. He caught 20 passes for 290 yards last season and possesses plenty of upside for his senior campaign.
Brandon Lingen, junior, Minnesota: Lingen caught 33 passes for 428 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore while starting 10 games. He was an All-Big Ten honorable mention, but could earn an All-Big Ten team spot this season.
Josiah Price, senior, Michigan State: Price is already Michigan State’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions. He caught 23 passes for 267 yards and six touchdowns a year ago and will be a key component of Michigan State’s revamped offense.