Vol trio has feel of being watched
Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 6:48 pm
Three Tennessee football players have been tabbed as players to watch for a pair of coveted awards.
Tennessee senior tailback Tauren Poole and sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray have each been selected to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which has annually honored college football’s most outstanding player since 1937.
Meanwhile, Vol defensive back Prentiss Waggner has been chosen as one of 65 preseason candidates for the 2011 Chuck Bednarik Award, which annually honors the nation’s top defensive player in college football.
The Tennessee offensive duo accounts for two of 12 SEC student-athletes on the list, making UT just one of three teams in the conference with multiple names on the 66-player group.
Just 16 teams in the nation feature two or more student-athletes on the list.
Poole, who tied for the SEC lead with six 100-yard rushing games in 2010 en route to just the 16th 1,000-yard season in UT history with 1,024 yards, earned Associated Press All-SEC honorable mention accolades in his first year as the starter.
The Toccoa, Ga., native is one of 27 tailbacks on the Maxwell Award Watch List.
Bray, one of just 11 sophomores recognized, completed 125-of-224 pass attempts for 1,849 passing yards and 18 touchdowns in 2010 to set UT freshman records in each category.
In five starts, Bray earned three SEC Freshman of the Week awards and was one of just two quarterbacks in the league to record four 300-yard passing performances last season.
Peyton Manning is the only Vol to earn the Maxwell Award, doing so as a senior in 1997.
Waggner is one of eight SEC defensive backs featured on the list.
He was also listed on the watch list for the Lott award in April. The Lott Trophy also recognizes the top collegiate defensive player in the country.
Waggner, who earned Associated Press second team All-SEC and Scout.com second team All-America honors in 2010, broke the UT season record for interceptions returned for touchdowns, taking an NCAA FBS-leading three to the end zone.
The Clinton, La., native tied for seventh in the FBS and first in the SEC with three recovered fumbles last season, while also tying for the team lead with five INTs.
His eight total takeaways were the most by a Vol since Deon Grant picked off nine passes in 1999.
Additionally, Waggner recorded 57 tackles, to rank fifth on the squad, along with nine passes defended, which was second among the Vols.
Semifinalists for both awards will be announced Oct. 31 and the three finalists will be unveiled on Nov. 21.
The winners of both honors will be announced as part of the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 8. The awards will be given to the winners next March at a formal ceremony.