The Maxwell Award has been given to the top player in college football since 1937. On Monday the Maxwell Football Club announced their preseason watch list, which includes two Arkansas Razorbacks among the 80 early qualifiers.
The Hogs enter the 2015 season with a loaded backfield thanks to the return of two 1,100-yard rushers, senior Jonathan Williams and junior Alex Collins.
Williams and Collins are physical clones of one another matching similar on the field results. Williams is listed at 6-foot, 224 pounds, while Collins comes in at 5-11 and 224. When the 2014 season was finished Williams piled up 1,190 yards on 211 carries with 12 touchdowns and Collins chipped in 1,100 yards on 204 carries with another 12 scores.
Former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney did not throw to the talented backs often, but when he did he turned to Williams to make something happen. Williams delivered on the rare occasions turning 11 receptions into two touchdowns.
Thanks in large part to the Razorbacks' dynamic duo in the backfield and four returning offensive linemen, Arkansas is a dark horse candidate to win the SEC West after a bounce-back 2014 season.
Collins and Williams could benefit from a change in the Razorbacks’ offensive scheme with former Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos now in charge. During spring practices Enos has opened up the offense more, which includes Williams and Collins getting touches on the outside to create one-on-one opportunities against linebackers and safeties in space. Look for the talented running backs to post similar, if not better, numbers in 2015.
The Maxwell Award watch list of 80 will be pared down to the semifinalists on Nov. 2. The winner of the 79th annual Maxwell Award will be announced on Dec. 10 during "The Home Depot College Football Awards Show" on ESPN.
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManinLA.