July 9, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The first two of 15 college football preseason watch lists were released Monday morning and a combined four Florida State football players are early candidates for the Bednarik and Maxwell awards.
The Bednarik Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top defensive player, features FSU standouts Brandon Jenkins, Lamarcus Joyner and Xavier Rhodes. Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel is also on the the Maxwell Award Watch List, which goes to college football’s player of the year each season.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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In its 17-season existence, no Florida State player has ever won the Bednarik Award.
Jenkins has the chance to change that trend as he enters his senior season as one of the nation’s top defensive ends on one of college football’s best defenses. The Tallahassee native has led FSU in sacks and tackles-for-loss in each of the last two seasons and is expected to be utilized in even more ways — both in the down position and standing up to rush and drop into coverage — in 2012.
While Jenkins was already a known commodity in 2011, Joyner had yet to prove himself on a national level before bursting on to the scene as a first-time starter at safety last year. By season’s end, Joyner was Florida State’s team-leader in interceptions with four and the team’s fourth-leading tackler with 54 stops.
After a four-interception season as a redshirt freshman in 2010, Rhodes registered just one takeaway last season but that had more to do with opposing quarterbacks shying away from his side of the field. He capped off his sophomore season with a strong showing in the Champs Sports Bowl against Notre Dame wide receiver and eventual NFL first-round draft pick Michael Floyd before being sidelined with an injury.
As for Manuel, FSU’s Maxwell Award candidate enters his fifth season at FSU with three bowl victories, a 13-4 record as the team’s starting quarterback and a current streak of 121 pass completions without an interception under his belt.
The Seminoles’ field general also gets to compete with one of the country’s deepest wide receiver corps, a young but talented group of running backs and an improved offensive line in 2012.
Charlie Ward (1993) is the lone FSU player to ever claim the Maxwell Award.
Preseason watch lists will continue to be released every day until July 20. Florida State players report for fall camp Aug. 5 and then the ‘Noles’ season opener is Sept. 1 at home against Murray State.