COLUMBIA, S.C. (July 10, 2017) — The Maxwell Football Club announced its watch lists for the 81st annual Maxwell Award and the 23rd annual Chuck Bednarik Award today. Quarterback Jake Bentley and wide receiver Deebo Samuel were named to the Maxwell list, while linebacker Skai Moore represents South Carolina on the Bednarik list.
The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell, has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell’s contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official. The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995. Chuck Bednarik, former standout at Penn and with the Philadelphia Eagles, is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of ’69 and the NFL Hall of Fame’s Class of ’67.
Bentley, a 6-3, 220-pound sophomore from Opelika, Ala., is the incumbent at quarterback after starting each of the final seven games of the 2016 campaign. After one season, he ranks first on the Carolina list for career completion percentage at 65.8 (125-for-190) while throwing for 1,420 yards and nine touchdowns. Named the Joe Morrison Offensive Player in the Spring, Bentley owns a 4-3 record as a starting quarterback.
Samuel, a 6-0, 215-pound junior from Inman, S.C., was named preseason first-team All-SEC as an all-purpose back and second-team as a kick returner by Athlon. The top returning receiver on the squad with 71 career catches for 944 yards, Samuel has scored nine career touchdowns – six on the ground, two receiving and one via kickoff return. He tied the school’s single-game record with 14 receptions and set Birmingham Bowl records with 14 catches for 190 yards against USF.
Moore, a 6-2, 218-pound senior from Cooper City, Fla., returned to the field in the spring after taking a redshirt year in 2016 due to a neck injury. The most decorated returning player on the roster, Moore was named preseason second-team All-SEC by Athlon. He was a second-team All-SEC selection in 2015 by both the AP and the league’s coaches. Moore has tallied 260 career tackles, needing 47 to move into the school’s all-time top-10. He led the team in tackles for three-consecutive seasons from 2013-15, becoming the first player to do so since Tony Watkins from 1992-94, and could become the first Gamecock to lead the team in tackles in four seasons, a feat that has been done just 14 times in NCAA Division I history. Moore also owns 11 career interceptions, tying for third on the all-time list and just three shy of Bo Davies’ school record of 14.
The watch lists will once again incorporate a broad spectrum of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs and conferences from coast to coast. Returning Maxwell Award winner Lamar Jackson (Louisville) headlines the way for the 2017 watch list class. The Chuck Bednarik Award watch list features fresh faces, as 2016 finalists Jonathan Allen (Alabama), Myles Garrett (Texas A&M), and Jabril Peppers (Michigan) have all moved on to the NFL.